Salmon is a healthy and nutritious source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids that many people have on a regular basis.
And while most pet owners know that many cats are crazy about fish, specifically their smell or taste, they might not know if salmon is indeed safe for this species or what types are best served to cats. If you want to know the answers to these questions, keep on reading!
Is salmon safe and healthy for cats?
It would be great if the answer would be either yes or no, but the truth is that it all depends on the kind of salmon your cat receives.
Smoked salmon or any variety that hasn’t been cooked fully or that contains too much salt is never a good choice for this species – or for any other mammal, for that matter. We’ll go into more detail on the risks you’re exposing your pet to when giving them these types, but the point is that you should refrain from feeding them to your cat at all times.
On the other hand, fresh and properly cooked salmon is completely safe for cats. Whether you boil it, bake it, or steam it, salmon can provide your feline companion with a number of health benefits they might not get from eating their regular kibble or canned varieties.
Here are a few examples of such benefits in the form of ingredients contained in salmon.
For a fish species, salmon is quite rich in vitamins that may not even show up in various other types of meat. For example, it contains a good amount of vitamin B6, vitamin C, as well as cobalamin (also known as vitamin B12).
All of these nutrients can positively influence your cat’s health, especially if you do not overdo it in terms of salmon amounts or feeding frequency.
Low in saturated fats
We all know that salmon tends to be a little fatter when compared to other fish, especially those that can be found in freshwater instead of saltwater. Even so, the types of fats from salmon aren’t the bad ones that can be found in protein sources such as meat, for example.
Also, depending on how you cook it, you do not run the risk of increasing your pet’s daily caloric content. If you boil, grill, or steam it, you will be able to remove some of the fat and turn it into a nice snack, even for cats that are a little overweight.
Omega 3 fatty acids
This type of ingredient is perhaps the most significant one that your pet can enjoy when you give them salmon. It has a myriad of benefits for health, from keeping your feline friend’s heart health in check to somewhat preventing cognitive dysfunction in their senior years.
In general, omega-3 fatty acids are seen as having anti-inflammatory properties, which is why they might also partially decrease the discomfort that geriatric cats have in their joints.
Add to that the fact that they also influence the quality and health of the skin and coat, and omega-3 fatty acids seem like a fairly important nutrient that cats can get from salmon.
Can cats eat salmon skin?
Depending on the way you prepare the salmon, the skin should be safe enough for cats to have. It’s slightly fatter compared to the rest of the parts, though, so you may need to limit the amount to a minimum, depending on your pet’s health status.
What we do have to note is that the only type of salmon skin that’s appropriate is the unseasoned one, so you should never add salt or spices to your salmon before cooking it if you also intend on feeding it to your cat.
This fish type is relatively easy to debone and doesn’t have nearly as many bones as other species, which is why you’ll be able to get it ready for your cat as easily as possible.
Risks of feeding salmon to your cat
If you have fed your cat a commercial diet for the majority of their life and now you wish to integrate fresh food into it, the best way of going about things would be to do so gradually and with very low amounts.
You have no way of knowing whether your cat is sensitive or even allergic to salmon or other types of fish if you’ve never given them to it in the past.
Other risks that cats can be exposed to when you give them salmon (particularly raw or smoked) are listed below.
Any fish can be contaminated with microorganisms depending on how it is shipped or stored. Some of the ones that can be found in salmon range from the widely known Salmonella species that people fear the most to even more dangerous ones such as Listeria.
When you cook salmon correctly, you’re basically killing all of these germs and making the fish safe to give to your cat.
Raw salmon tends to carry a variety of parasites, including tapeworms or flukes. So, unless you want your cat to develop a parasitosis and you to have to treat them for it (which can sometimes be challenging and add to stress on the body mainly if your pet has a chronic condition), we suggest avoiding raw salmon for cats altogether.
One of the reasons why people tend to buy wild salmon instead of farmed salmon is the number of contaminants that can be found in the second category.
The three types of such dangerous substances that can be found in salmon these days are mercury, dioxins, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). So, while the benefits definitely outweigh the cons, you might still want to skip feeding your cat salmon just to be on the safe side of things.
Frequently asked questions
Can cats eat raw salmon?
No. Raw salmon or any other type of fish or meat can be dangerous because it can carry risky bacteria that can unnecessarily put your pet’s health and, sometimes, even their life, at risk pointlessly. So you should never feed your cat raw salmon.
How much salmon can I give my cat?
While there aren’t any official guidelines for this, an amount such as one tablespoon per week for an adult cat weighing in at 10 pounds can be considered safe.
What happens if a cat eats salmon?
It depends on whether it’s raw or cooked. If it’s cooked, your cat’s likely not to experience any unpleasant symptoms whatsoever, especially if you’ve used no seasonings or spices while preparing it. It’s difficult to predict how your cat’s body would react if you give them raw salmon, but they might experience digestive distress at best (and severe diarrhea and vomiting at worst).
Does salmon give cats diarrhea?
Raw salmon can indeed produce diarrhea in cats if it carries any bacteria such as Salmonella or the parasites that we have previously mentioned. Smoked salmon is not safe either, but fully cooked varieties are usually safe and won’t cause gastrointestinal upsets.
How do I prepare salmon for my cat?
The best way would be to cook the salmon as simply as possible. Using a steamer is the most recommended method as the fish doesn’t get burned, and some of the fat is removed, too.
Can cats eat salmon everyday?
No. As healthy as it might be for them, cats need other nutrients coming from other sources, too. In the wild, cats don’t tend to eat a diet exclusively based on fish, which should give you a clue as to what this obligate carnivore needs to eat. Cooked salmon should be looked at as a treat instead of a main source of food.
Which fish is best for cats?
Salmon is a good example of a safe and healthy fish species for cats. Others range from sardines to tuna, both of which can provide your pet with many of the same benefits.
Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon, Ronald A. Hites et all, Science Magazine: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1091447
Health effects of nutrients and environmental pollutants in Baltic herring and salmon: a quantitative benefit-risk assessment, Jouni T. Tuomisto et al, BMC Public Health: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-8094-1