Can Cats Eat Crab Meat?

Picture of 3 cooked crabs

Cats are finally beginning to get more attention online. It’s about time! By the numbers, there are more pet cats than dogs in both the U.S. and in Canada. Until recently, however, dogs have gotten most of the attention. There are also more products, web sites, and pet foods for dogs. Let’s have a little love for the kitties! We’ll start by assuming that you may have questions about things that your cat can or can’t eat safely. For example, can cats eat crab meat?

(More households in the U.S. own dogs but there are more individual cats https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-pet-statistics.)

Crab meat nutrition

Crab meat is very high in protein. Blue crab, for example, is 89 percent protein and 11 percent fat, with zero carbs. It’s low in saturated fat. It’s also a good source of folate and potassium and a very good source of phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4164/2?quantity=1.5.

It’s also a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 as well as vitamin E.  Crab meat is also very high in omega-3 fatty acids as are other marine foods.

And, a one-cup serving of cooked blue crab (135 grams) contains only 134 calories.

Crab is high in sodium and very high in cholesterol.

For humans, crab is thought to help heart health. The omega-3 fatty acids may help lower triglycerides and reduce blood clotting. B12 and folate can help prevent anemia which is associated with fatigue and weakness.

Eating seafood, such as crab, may also reduce the risk of dementia https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-crab#1 or Alzheimer’s disease thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids.

There are some potential risks with eating crab meat. Crab is lower in mercury than some other seafood but it can still be a concern depending on where it is caught and how it is prepared.

Brown crab meat can contain high levels of cadmium https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719349149. Cadmium can be toxic if you eat too much. The brown crabs of concern come from Norway, especially northern Norway. If possible, you should try to avoid this crab meat for yourself and your cat. Try to know the origin of any crab meat you eat.

Can cats eat crab meat?

Yes, it’s usually okay to let your cat eat some crab meat as a treat or part of their meal. You should make sure that the crab meat is cooked. Raw seafood, including crabs, always has the risk of carrying bacteria and parasites. Cooking the crab meat will kill any bacteria and parasites that might be hiding inside.

You should not give your cat a steady diet of crab meat, however. Crab meat is high in protein and includes omega-3 fatty acids, as well as some other healthy vitamins and minerals, but it does not contain all of the nutrients your cat needs each day. Your cat won’t have a complete diet if he eats only crab meat.

It’s best to avoid giving your cat the shell and legs of the crab. Some cats may like to eat these parts but they tend to be hard to digest and could be choking hazards. Giving your cat only the crab meat is safest.

Are there risks with giving your cat crab meat?

Yes, along with the risk of parasites and bacteria in raw crab, you should be careful if you buy canned crab meat. Make sure that the canned crab doesn’t contain any added ingredients or flavorings such as garlic, onion, artificial preservatives, and others that might be harmful to your cat.

When cooking crab meat, make sure that you don’t add any ingredients or spices that might be dangerous to your cat.

Crab meat is already high in sodium so even adding salt can be problematic. If your cat has a heart problem or health issues involving his kidneys or liver, you might want to avoid giving him crab meat at all. Eating foods with high sodium levels can increase the fluid retained in your kitty’s body which could cause problems. Talk to your vet.

Some cats are allergic to seafood, including crab meat. You won’t know until your cat has eaten some a couple of times. If your cat is allergic, symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upset, and/or itching. Avoid seafood for your cat in the future.

What about imitation crab meat?

Imitation crab meat contains only a small amount of crab extract. It’s actually made from a fish paste called surimi. Surimi is often made from a white fish such as pollock with fillers and flavors like starch, sugar, egg whites, and crab extract. It’s not very nutritious, compared to real crab. We don’t recommend feeding it to your cat.

How much crab meat can you give your cat?

In general, treat crab meat like a special treat. It shouldn’t make up more than about 10 percent of your cat’s total daily calories.

How often can you give your cat crab meat?

If your cat enjoys crab meat, you could give him a small amount as a treat once or twice per week. If you give it more often, some cats can become demanding about wanting some so it’s best not to give it very often.

Cats and crab meat: conclusion

Crab meat can be a healthy treat for many cats as long as it’s cooked. It’s high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a number of vitamins and minerals. It is not a complete meal so it’s best to give it to your cat as an occasional treat. Cooking the crab meat will kill any parasites or bacteria that may linger inside and make it safe for your cat to eat.

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Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.

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