Like many other fish species, anchovies are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D, as well as selenium and other animals. But can cats eat anchovies? Can they provide them with any health benefits, or are they just too risky to give to your feline friend?
You can find out the answer to these questions and more below, so keep on reading!
Benefits of anchovies for cats
In a nutshell and if you are in a hurry, yes, cats can eat anchovies, but they need to be cooked, and they shouldn’t be those that you can find in a can, for example, as those can contain too much salt, preservatives, or other additives.
However, anchovies can provide your pet with a series of health benefits, such as improving the way their skin looks, the appearance and the health of their coat, and their mobility.
This is all due to the vitamin and mineral content in anchovies, as well as the fact that they are packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
For instance, vitamin D can help calcium get into the bones of any cat, so it can be particularly helpful for young animals. Vitamin A helps your feline companion benefit from great eye vision, while vitamin B12, another that can be found in this fish species, can prevent diseases of the digestive tract or nervous system.
As for omega 3, it has a myriad of positive health effects, in that it can protect your cat’s heart and brain in the long run (so that they’re less prone to developing cognitive dysfunction in their senior years) and it can also prevent some joint pathologies (mainly osteoarthritis).
Risks of feeding anchovies to your cat
Too much salt
Canned and dried anchovies can sometimes be cured in such a way that the amount of salt that the final product contains is absolutely massive.
And while we, as people, can counterbalance that by either eating anchovies with something unsalted or we can soak them in water to remove some of the salt, your cat cannot do the same.
Salt poisoning is real in pets and can cause a variety of symptoms, such as the following:
- Extreme dehydration
- Lack of appetite for either food or water
- Lack of coordination
- In severe cases, seizures
As we have previously mentioned, some anchovies that you can find at your local store can contain a wide range of chemicals that are added to the recipe in order for it to be shelf-stable for a long period of time.
Needless to say, these additives are not healthy for your cat. In fact, some have been linked with cancer cases in humans in the past. And while people are larger and can therefore better process such chemicals, the same rule does not apply to cats.
If you have any way of getting organic and fresh anchovies, those are by far the best to feed to your cat.
Choking hazards or intestinal obstruction
Given that they are so small, anchovies are usually eaten whole (or their guts are removed in the factory), so some bones remain attached to their body.
Many recipes make it possible for the fish to be processed in such a way so that the bones are very soft, therefore eliminating the risk of them causing an issue. However, even if cats are experts when it comes to eating fish, a bone can still get lodged in their throat or cause an issue later down the line, meaning when it reaches the bowels.
That is a risk you need to take into account each time you decide to give your cat anchovies (or any other fish with bones, for that matter).
How to cook anchovies for cats
Since raw fish can carry parasites and bacteria, it is not a good idea to feed raw anchovies to cats.
You can, however, cook them in multiple ways, such as lightly baking them, grilling them, steaming them, or even boiling them.
Frequently asked questions about cats and anchovies
Can you feed a kitten anchovies?
Ideally, no. Kittens are far more sensitive compared to their adult counterparts, so they should eat whatever your vet recommends.
In the first few months of their life, they should normally receive a baby or kitten diet that’s commercial, just to be on the safe side of things – since they’re much more likely to easily develop gastroenteritis, feeding them ‘human food’ is not recommended.
Can cats eat anchovies in sunflower oil?
Yes. So long as the anchovies are fresh or contain little to no salt and no other preservatives, cats can eat varieties that have sunflower oil.
Can cats eat fresh anchovies?
Yes, but they should be cooked just to eliminate any health risks. Raw fish can be just as dangerous to animals as it can be to people.
Can cats eat dried anchovies?
It depends on how they were dried. If there was no salt involved in the process, then cats can eat dried anchovies – some commercial cat snacks are dried fish, so they’re generally safe.