Is it Safe for Cats to eat Fish?

cat eating fish

Cats are known for their love of fish, but is it actually good for them?

All cat owners should be aware of their pet’s dietary needs and restrictions.

A Brief History

Cats originally lived in desert regions, which as you probably know aren’t exactly teeming with fish. In fact, these animals mostly ate lizards, birds, and other creatures that were native to the area.

This means that these animals don’t necessarily need to eat fish from a historical perspective.

Nutritional Benefits of Fish

There is no question that fish is packed with nutritional value. This food generally contains lots of protein, which both humans and cats need plenty of.

1. Healthy Fats

A lot of types of fish also have lots of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which can help with maintaining a sharp mind. These fatty acids have even been found to improve mental functions like memory and concentration.

2. Packed with Protein

The high amount of protein in fish will provide your cat with the energy it needs on a daily basis. If your cat isn’t currently getting enough protein in their diet, a little fish serves as a highly effective supplement.

3. Reduced Inflammation

Another reason that a lot of people give their cats fish sometimes is because of its natural anti-inflammatory properties. If your cat has arthritis or another inflammatory condition, giving it a little fish each day can help. This is an effective way to manage your cat’s pain levels without prescription medications.

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4. Treatment for Cancer

While fish itself can’t cure cancer in felines, it can potentially help to slow the growth of tumors. If your cat has been diagnosed with cancer, this is something to consider.

5. Heart Health

There is some evidence that fish can help with minimizing heart problems. If your cat is prone to arrhythmias, adding fish to their diet might help. 

kitten eating fish

Too Much of a Good Thing

It is important that you provide your cat with a well-balanced diet. Giving them too much fish is never a good idea. An excessive amount of fish in a feline’s diet can actually lead to heavy metal poisoning, depending on the type of fish.

Cat Food with Fish

If you are going to buy cat food with fish in it, you’ll need to take a close look at the ingredients. Many of these products contain fish-by products instead of the real thing. It’s crucial that you only give your cat food with high-quality ingredients.

orange cat eating fish

Raw Fish

You should always avoid giving your cat raw fish, as doing so could negatively impact their health in a big way. This could result in your cat contracting all sorts of dangerous infections.

It is also possible for a raw fish diet to lower thiamine and vitamin B levels in their body, which can cause serious problems. A thiamine deficiency could lead to convulsions and other issues that can be fatal.

A lot of fish live in areas with high levels of toxins in the water due to pollution. This is just another reason why giving your pet the raw stuff is not a good idea.

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Always make sure that you feed them skin-on fish if you are going to give them this type of food. This will prevent them from developing a variety of health problems, which can shorten their lifespan significantly. Make sure that the fish you feed your cat doesn’t have any bones that they could choke on.

Fish Oil

A fish oil supplement can do your cat a lot of good. These supplements can give your pet the protein and omega fatty acids it needs to stay healthy.

You can purchase fish oil supplements in the form of capsules or liquid. The latter option might be better, as some cats have issues with swallowing the capsules. You could always cut the capsule open and put the liquid on their regular food each day.

Negative Reactions of Fish

Some cats don’t react particularly well to fish in their diet, especially ones that have a very sensitive stomach.

A few of the potential negative reactions to fish include:

  • Gastrointestinal distress: You’ll want to keep in mind that a fish oil supplement can cause gastrointestinal problems for some cat. You should take notice if your cat becomes especially gassy or begins eating less.
  • Skin problems: There is also a chance that it will cause their skin to flake or become especially oily. If you notice any of these things, you should stop giving them the fish oil completely.
  • Allergic reaction: There is also a chance that your cat could have an allergic reaction to the fish you give it. This is due to all of the histamines that most fish contain. It is important that you look for swelling of the face and hives, as these are both common signs of an allergic reaction to food.
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Talk to Your Veterinarian

It is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian before giving your cat any fish. This can prevent all kinds of serious health problems and negative reactions. Your vet should be able to tell you whether or not this is okay for your pet.


  • While fish don’t necessarily need to eat fish, it can be beneficial to their overall health.
  • Fish contains lots of protein and healthy fats that can help with balancing out your cat’s diet.
  • Make sure that you never give your cat any fish that is raw or has bones in it.
  • Too much fish on a daily basis can cause problems with your pet’s health.
  • You may want to think about giving your cat a fish oil supplement. It can reduce inflammation and enhance their diet.
  • Look for any possible negative reactions when giving your cat fish, including swelling of the face, hives, or gastrointestinal upset.
  • Make an appointment with your veterinarian so you can get an official recommendation from them before giving your cat any fish.