Although not necessarily the most common type of fish that people regularly have on their dinner table, sardines are extremely nutritious and healthy. We know that some cats love fish, in general, and appear to be weirdly attracted to the scent of sardines, in particular.
But are sardines something that cats should normally have in their diet? Are there any risks involved with you giving them sardines as a snack? What benefits are they likely to enjoy if you do? Find out all the answers below!
What types of sardines are best for cats?
Before we move on to the rest of the article, we have to answer the main question and say that yes, cats can eat sardines. But just like any other protein source that should compose their diet, there are some things that you should consider.
The best types of sardines for cats are those that are completely fresh. If you have the opportunity to buy them locally and you know that they were harvested recently and they haven’t been processed in any way, they are healthy for cats.
However, canned sardines aren’t just as good for your feline friend. For one, they have added salt and sometimes even sugar, which means that they are not species-appropriate in any way.
On top of that, canned sardines do not contain taurine or thiamine, and that’s because they are simply not specifically designed to address a cat’s dietary needs.
If, according to the label, your canned sardine variety is clean, meaning free of added salt, sugar, preservatives, artificial colors, or taste enhancers, a small piece could make for a good snack for your cat on occasion – but not more.
Are sardines good for cats?
Fresh sardines can indeed provide your pet with some health benefits, mainly because of their nutrients.
For example, sardines have a fairly good amount of protein, which, as you probably know, if you’ve been a cat guardian for a while, is the main thing that cats are supposed to have.
Then, there’s the fact that sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a number of positive effects on both human and animal health. By supplying your cat with these fatty acids, you’re potentially preventing heart and brain conditions and also ensuring their mobility when they become a senior.
This type of fish is naturally rich in vitamin D, and some studies suggest that this nutrient may be able to prevent cancer to some extent. It’s not the universal cure for cancer as there are environmental and genetic factors at play, too, but it could be capable of preventing this condition.
And because of the omega-fatty acids that we just mentioned, sardines may also be a natural antidepressant. As you know, all beings’ brains survive on fat because it is the most fat-rich tissue that’s present in animal and human bodies.
So, if your cat has recently undergone something stressful like surgery or moving homes, giving them sardines as a snack may prevent them from becoming depressed.
Some of the other nutrients that can be found in sardines range from minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, and selenium to vitamins B3, B2, and B12.
Can sardines be bad for cats?
Whenever you buy fresh fish, whether sardines or not, you have to ensure that you cook it properly before being able to give it to your cat. While some people might think that raw fish retains its nutrients better, it’s just not worth the risk.
Cats can get food poisoning just like people do, and in some cases, it can be fatal. There’s no point in risking your pet’s health. High cooking temperatures are the only way to kill potentially dangerous bacteria.
This is a quite interesting fact because fish aren’t as commonly looked at as food that can actually be a vector of dangerous parasites. But did you know that the reason animals and people get tapeworms is actually eating inappropriately processed fish?
Sardines can additionally carry some of the larvae, whether inside or on the outside of their bodies, so your cat can easily become a victim of Diphyllobothrium latum. This risk is, of course, eliminated by properly cooking your sardines.
Not only are sardines lacking in vitamin B1, which is an essential nutrient for cats, but raw fish is also rich in an enzyme called thiaminase. Cooked sardines do not contain it because it gets degraded when exposed to high temperatures.
Some symptoms of thiamine deficiency range from drooling and lethargy to anorexia and more severe signs that the cat’s nervous system was affected (such as circling, head tilting, nystagmus, or seizures).
So, can cats eat sardines? Yes, but they should be cooked properly. Most canned sardine varieties do not make good options for cats, especially if they contain salt, oil, and other added ingredients.
If you are caring for a kitten or a senior, refrain from giving them canned sardines at any time. These two categories, along with pregnant cats, have a much higher risk of developing severe symptoms of any condition compared to their healthy adult counterparts.