Tuna has become a common food for humans, whether as a quick, filling snack out of a can or part of a larger meal. As much as cats love fish, they may show an affinity for tuna that outmatches even the hungriest human.
With so many tuna flavored cat foods and treats out there, it’s reasonable to think that giving your cat some tuna would provide a healthy, beneficial meal, but is it really something cats should consume?
Tuna first gained popularity during the First World War, when soldiers overseas required a convenient, portable food that could sustain them during the war. Canned tuna became the food of choice, and by 1954, the United States was the largest tuna market in the world.
Tuna are typically caught in warm water and shipped frozen to factories, where they undergo processing and canning techniques before being sent off to the marketplace.
What Does Tuna Contain?
Most brands of tuna typically add salt, canola oil and vegetable broth to increase the depth of flavor, but all tuna contains the same nutrients. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week, and tuna can help your fish intake and provide several benefits for your body.
Tuna is packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, all of which promote good health and well-being for humans. For cats, it may not be the same.
Things To Consider About Tuna…And Cats
As well all know, cats can be very picky eaters, but they are often drawn to tuna because of their love of fish.
Cat diets can be quite simple, as they don’t require a huge variety of different foods to maintain good health. Just lots of protein-rich, meat-based product. Consuming tuna on a regular basis can help humans, but it provides little nutritional benefit for cats. The additional salt, oil and broth are not things that your cat needs and could also lead to health issues such as steatitis, an inflammation of your cat’s body fat.
Though not harmful to humans, canned tuna also contains mercury that, if built up over time, can eventually lead to mercury poisoning due to your cat’s smaller body size and inability for their body to cope.
Some symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
- Unable to stand or walk
- Lack of appretite
- Poor color
- Abdominal pain
Verdict – Can Cats Eat Tuna?
Cats can eat a small amount of tuna as a treat, but follow recommended guidelines. Feeding tuna to your cat regularly may cause health problems later on.
Keep in mind, tuna-based cat foods and treats are designed for feline consumption. Canned tuna contains fatty oils and nutrients for humans, but tuna-based cat food is created to provide a healthy amount of protein while keeping mercury intake at a safe level. It’s important to vary your cat’s food to achieve the optimum nutritional value and overall meal enjoyment, but tuna-based cat food isn’t harmful.
Just like most food meant for humans, it’s best to be cautious before feeding your cat too much tuna.