The tale of cats and tuna is as old as time. Yet the debate around whether cats should drink tuna water stirs up a storm in a teacup.
Can this ‘tuna juice’ provide health benefits or is it a potential Pandora’s box of issues?
Tuna water is the liquid byproduct produced when tuna is canned in water. For cats, it can serve as an appetizing hydration source or meal enhancer. But make sure to only give your cat in moderation due to potential health concerns.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into what makes up tuna water, explore its safety for your cat and touch on the potential benefits.
Why Do Cats Like Tuna?
If there’s a cat being fed on the big screen, chances are it will be given either milk or fish.
The media has somehow thought that all cats are dairy and seafood eaters.
We will leave the pitfalls of feeding your cat too much dairy products for another day.
But many cats are drawn to tuna or should I say, the smell of tuna.
The way to a cat’s stomach is through its nose.
Cats have a very powerful sense of smell which they use to decide if something is delicious or not.
It is hard to find a cat that won’t be attracted to the strong, savory aroma of tuna.
As obligate carnivores, tuna’s high protein content aligns with its carnivorous nature.
My cat knows when it’s time for a tuna treat and will appear faster than you can say “Greedy cat”.
Is Tuna Water Good For Cats?
Tuna water itself is not a nutritionally rich substance.
It primarily contains water and traces of tuna meat. It lacks the multitude of nutrients found in the tuna itself like Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and proteins.
Somewhat similar to drinking fruit juice rather than eating the fruit itself.
Tuna water might just be seen as a liquid byproduct when you buy canned tuna but it has some beneficial uses for your cat.
Helps To Whip Up Your Cat’s Appetite
I have been using tuna water can be a secret weapon when it comes to increasing my cat’s appetite.
This can be especially useful if your cat is:
- A picky eater
- Not feeling well
- Recovering from a procedure
The stinky aroma of tuna water can stimulate your cat’s senses, prompting it to eat when it might otherwise turn up its nose.
I have to admit that tuna water has been a real lifesaver for both me and my cat.
There were times when my cat just didn’t have much of an appetite due to being sick or recovering from an operation.
By adding a few teaspoons of canned tuna juice to his food, he does feel more tempted to take a couple of bites.
If you need to mask the taste of medication in your cat’s food, adding some tuna water might do the trick. It can be stinky enough to ‘fool’ your cat.
Every cat parent knows how difficult it can be when it comes to feeding our difficult cats medication. It feels like you are wrestling with an oily alligator who is trying to bite your head off!
Helps To Hydrate Your Cat
Your cat, my cat and all the other cats out there have a bad habit, which is that they don’t drink enough water.
It isn’t because they don’t want to but having evolved as desert dwellers, they naturally have a low thirst drive.
Back when cats were living in the desert, most of a cat’s water comes from its food and not often from a water source.
If you live in the desert, finding fresh water is like string gold.
The good thing is that our feline babies have all the fresh water they need now but they are still not drinking enough.
The lack of hydration in your cat can lead to kidney and urinary issues.
This problem is made worse if you are feeding dry cat food which contains no moisture at all.
To get your cat to drink more water, you can add some tuna water to the cat food on a regular basis.
You can also do the same even if your cat is on a wet diet or raw meat diet.
The extra hydration will be good for your cat in the long run.
We at Petsbeam.com firmly believe that a good natural diet for your cat can help resolve many health problems over its lifetime.
Is Tuna Juice Ok For Cats With Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease is unfortunately common amongst our feline friends.
This is often attributed to our cats not drinking or having enough water throughout their lives.
This puts unnecessary stress on their kidney and makes them malfunction eventually.
In fact, 1 out of 3 cats will get chronic kidney disease (CKD).
My cat was diagnosed with kidney problems when he was 10 and he needs to be on daily meds. I also make sure to provide him with as much fresh water as possible.
If your cat is cool drinking from a water bowl, adding some ice cubes or using a pet water fountain can encourage them to drink even more.
It’s important to note that while tuna water can be helpful, other beverages like Gatorade are not recommended for cats despite their hydration benefits for humans.
Some ingredients in Gatorade may not be suitable or safe for feline consumption.
How To Choose The Right Tuna Water?
Not all canned tunas are made equal. It is important that you know what you are buying before you feed it to your cat.
Here are some tips you can use when choosing the right type of tuna to make tuna-flavored water.
Read The Ingredients Label
It is fine for cat lovers to feed their cats human-grade tuna or tuna juice from the supermarket.
But please read the ingredients label before deciding which canned tuna to get for your cat.
You only want to get tuna in water or mineral water. This makes it easy for you to drain off the tuna water or juice for your cat.
Avoid any canned tuna that comes in sauces, chili, oil or preservatives.
All these additional ingredients can cause a bad reaction like diarrhea or vomiting when consumed by your cat.
Any canned tuna fish that contains artificial flavoring is also a big no-no for cats.
A study has shown that artificial flavoring in cat food can cause hyperthyroidism
A cat that has hyperthyroidism can show the following systems:
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Increased thirst and urination
- Poor grooming
Always be sure to know what is in the tuna juice before feeding it to your precious cat.
Sodium Levels In Tuna Water
Having sodium in our food isn’t a bad thing. It plays a part in helping to maintain a healthy body in both humans and cats.
Sodium itself helps ensure proper nerve and muscle cell functions and the key is to ensure that the sodium level in your cat is balanced out with other nutrients and minerals.
Don’t forget that your cat is already getting a fair level of sodium from its regular diet.
If your cat is on a good and proper diet like raw meat diet or wet food, chances are it is already getting the required sodium levels.
Buying tuna juice that is high in sodium won’t be too good for your cat.
Too much sodium in a cat’s diet can cause high salt poisoning and even kidney failure.
To err on the safe side, get tuna that is lower in sodium levels.
BPA stands for bisphenol and it is a chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins for industrial use.
BPA is commonly found in plastic packaging for our food and water. It is also found in epoxy resin that is used in the production of food cans.
Why BPA is bad for us because there is a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
BPA can also damage the liver, kidneys and reproduction organs in both humans and animals.
If possible, get canned tuna or tuna water that is stored in BPA-free packaging.
Is Too Much Tuna Juice Bad For Cats?
If you are giving your cat tuna water from canned tuna other than soaked in water, the sodium level can be excessively high for cats.
Cats need a much lower sodium intake compared to humans.
Too much sodium can lead to sodium poisoning with symptoms such as dehydration, hypertension and even kdney failure.
Tuna contains a high amount of mercury in its body.
Feeding your cat tuna in small amounts isn’t much of an issue.
But tuna should not be part of your cats’ main diet as the build-up of mercury can become toxic and lead to mercury poisoning.
This can have serious, even fatal consequences for your pet.
Some cats can get addicted to tuna. Just like how some cats can get addicted to catnip.
It is ok to give your cat a couple of tablespoons of tuna water every now and then but don’t overdo it.
You don’t want your cat to ignore its regular food and just drink tuna water which hardly contains any nutrients.
How Do You Make Tuna Juice For Cats?
I will be sharing with you two very simple ways that I use to make tuna water or tuna broth for my cat.
It is fast, simple and can last a long time.
- Can get a can of tuna in water or fresh tuna and empty the contents into a small bowl or pot
- Mash up the tuna into smaller pieces
- Pour 3-4 cups of hot water into the tuna
- You can also heat up the mixture over a small flame and let it simmer for a few minutes
- Once cooled, drain the tuna water away from the tuna meat
- Store the tuna water in an air-tight container in the fridge
One method I use that can really maintain the freshness of the tuna water is to freeze it into ice cubes.
Just pour the cooled tuna water into an ice cube tray and melt one or two cubes when you want to feed your cat.
The next method that I use is pretty similar to the first. But instead of using canned tuna, I will use dried bonito flakes.
It is possible to get a packet of flakes from your pet store that is grain-free and also without any sodium or preservatives.
It’s basically dried skipjack tuna which I like as it has the lowest level of mercury among all the tuna varieties.
Just add a handful of dried bonito flakes to a boiling pot of water and let it cook for a few minutes.
Once cooled you can also freeze it up as cubes for later use.
Can Cats Eat Tuna?
It is ok to feed your cat tuna fish as a treat occasionally.
A little fish treat for your cat every now and then helps to add some variety to their diet and provides some healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
It is better to choose fatty fishes that are high in monosaturated fat like salmon, tuna, sardine or mackerel.
Feeding your cat tuna steaks that have been marinated with lemon pepper is a big no-no due to the dangers of toxicity.
Do not use cooked tuna meat as staple meat for your cat as it still contains some levels of mercury in its flesh.
Mercury is an element that doesn’t break down and is found in rocks, water and soil.
This element finds its way into wildlife when they eat plants and animals that already contain mercury.
The higher up the food chain the animal is, the higher the mercury levels in the body.
Tuna is high in the aquatic food chain hence it is known to have higher levels of mercury than most fishes.
Too much tuna in your cat’s diet can lead to mercury poisoning if ingested in large quantities.
Do Not Feed Raw Tuna
One thing to note is that the tuna that is given to your cat must not be raw.
Even though we are advocates for a raw food diet for cats, raw tuna can be bad for cats.
Raw fish contains an enzyme (Thiaminase) that interferes with the absorption of Vitamin B in your cat.
This is a very essential vitamin for your cat as it supports the following health functions:
- Immune system
- Nervous system
- Digestive tract
Cats that are suffering from a vitamin B deficiency will show signs of weight loss, lethargicness, diarrhea, etc.
The kind of ailments we don’t ever want our cats to suffer from.
Ensure that the tuna is properly cooked before feeding some to your cat.