“Hmm, can cats eat chicken bones?” You’re looking over at your curious creature as she’s making an attempt to climb on the kitchen counter and snatch some leftover chicken. You’re pretty sure a bite or two won’t cause her harm.
But, someone’s gotta make sure her voraciousness doesn’t end on a bad note. How can you tell her off when she gives you that look!? She just wants to munch on a chicken wing, maybe spice things up with a drumstick or two… “Oh, there’s even a chicken neck!”
You have to draw the line somewhere before she singlehandedly destroys her entire digestive system. You didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on carefully crafted cat food to have her spend the rest of the day in her litter box because she accidentally ate something she shouldn’t have.
Don’t worry, you made the right call when you decided to hop online and look up whether cats can eat chicken bones. According to our friends over at the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), chicken bones aren’t toxic to cats.
They’re a great source of calcium, an essential nutrient in your cat’s diet. And they’re a great ally in keeping your cat’s bones, skin, and fur happy and healthy.
But, before you and your furry friend head out to KFC for a bucket of celebratory chicken wings, there are a couple of things you should consider. Let’s just say that your question requires a better explanation than a simple yes or no.
So, put your cat’s meows of desperation aside and keep on reading to learn everything you need to know on this matter. Can cats eat cooked chicken bones? Can cats eat raw chicken bones? What are the health benefits of feeding chicken bones to your cat?
So, can cats eat chicken bones?
As a pet parent, you’ve probably heard the famous “cats are obligate carnivores” line a million times before. You’re aware that cats require a specific diet that consists of meat, animal protein, and animal-sourced nutrients to survive.
They come from an ancient line of hunters and it’s only natural that they get most of their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from other animals. They’re completely safe feeding off of different types of meat, but they do have their favorites… We’re talking about birds, of course!
You might be thinking “but, only wild cats do such things.” Wild cats are those typically associated with hunting and scoffing down every single part of their prey, leaving just a couple of feathers behind. But, domesticated cats have the same instincts.
Don’t tell me that Ms. McFluffer has never left dead birds at your doorstep as a token of her appreciation!? Bones, feathers, guts, and other seemingly life-threatening parts of other animals don’t seem to bother her as much as you would think.
But, there’s one big difference between eating the bones of the freshly caught prey and eating the bones of leftover chicken. Cats can eat raw chicken bones with pretty much no repercussions, but we can’t say the same for cooked chicken bones.
What’s the deal with cooked chicken bones?
You weren’t expecting this answer to your “can cats eat chicken bones” question, now were you? Most pet parents assume their furry friends are much better off eating cat food, cat treat, and an occasional properly cooked meat treat.
We’re putting the emphasis on properly cooked because it’s incredibly important to underline the risks of feeding raw foods (specifically raw meat) to your cat. Bacteria and parasites, nausea and bloatedness, digestive problems… None of that sounds fun.
But, cooked chicken bones are much more dangerous for your cat than raw chicken bones. Oh, the irony! As it turns out, cooked chicken bones become brittle and can cause blockages in your cat’s mouth and esophagus. And, they can contain traces of toxic seasonings and additives.
Cooked chicken bones aren’t the worst things your furry friend can put into her mouth. But, they might make you wonder whether cats can or even should eat chicken bones. Well, there’s nothing left to do but to figure out the answer to that question together.
1. They can become a choking hazard
What’s so bad about cooked chicken bones? Shouldn’t they be better for our furry friends? Unfortunately, chicken bones tend to change their composition when they go through the cooking process.
They become soft, brittle, and easily lodged in between your cat’s teeth. They easily snap and break off into sharp pieces and splinters that can cause blockages in your cat’s throat and esophagus.
And, let’s not forget about the fact that they can also easily cause cuts and irritations once they go through your cat’s digestive tract and arrive in your cat’s stomach.
It’s safe to say that these crunchy chicken treats aren’t the best choice for your curious creature. It’s better to stay on the safe side and stick to “the ultimate bribe” – commercially available chicken treats.
2. They can contain harmful ingredients
Let’s say you’re making mouth-watering rotisserie chicken for lunch. Your four-legged friend doesn’t want to stop meowing and begging until you agree to let her have a taste. You’re forced to tell her no because you know she isn’t allowed to consume garlic, olive oil, and other seasonings.
And that’s the same reason you should refuse her when she starts begging you for a chicken bone. I know sharing is caring, but not in this case.
Cooked chicken bones can contain ingredients that can cause digestive issues, stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and even constipation.
Sure, nibbling on smaller bones that haven’t been cooked with a bunch of other ingredients shouldn’t send your furry friend to the emergency animal center. But, it’s better to steer clear of the culprit altogether.
What to do when your cat eats a cooked chicken bone?
“My cat ate chicken bones! I feed my cat the best cat food and cat treats but she’s always hungry for more. She managed to sneak into the kitchen and snatch a couple of cooked chicken bones that were supposed to go into my chicken broth. What should I do!?”
Don’t worry, you’re not the first pet parent to go through something similar. When your feline friend decides to go against what’s right and get herself in trouble, it’s your responsibility to stay calm and collected, and take care of the situation.
First things first, make sure she doesn’t have any bone chunks or splinters stuck inside of her mouth. You can gently run your finger across the inside of her mouth or open her mouth wide enough to get a clear assessment of what’s going on.
After you’ve made sure she isn’t choking, contact your vet and keep him up to date with the situation in case of complications.
Last but not least, observe her behavior for the next couple of days. Make sure that the bone chunks and splinters aren’t causing her harm as they’re moving through her gastrointestinal tract.
Look for symptoms such as bloating, bloody stool, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea. And, you guessed it, keep those cooked chicken bones away from your cat’s reach in the future!
And how about raw chicken bones?
Let’s move away from the “your cat might die if she eats this” topics, shall we? Raw chicken bones are an excellent cat treat because they’re packed with vitamins and minerals, and they bring heaps of nutritional and health benefits to the table.
You might not be able to go to KFC with your furry friend. But, the two of you might want to hit the nearest butcher and ask for some raw chicken bones. Before you take off, though, take a look at some of the benefits of feeding raw chicken bones to your cat.
1. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals
Calcium, calcium, and more calcium! You can’t argue with the fact that your feline friend gets the most benefits from this marvelous mineral. But, raw chicken bones don’t come without a bunch of other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Minerals play an essential role in your cat’s immune system, digestive system, and nervous system. Without them, your cat’s metabolism wouldn’t be able to function properly.
Additionally, the bone marrow that’s contained within the raw chicken bone provides your cat with vitamins A, B2, and B12. Most of these nutrients lose their power when they go through the cooking process. That’s another reason you should opt for raw chicken bones instead of cooked ones.
2. They’re packed with nutritional and health benefits
When you decided to look up whether cats can eat chicken bones, you didn’t think you’d end up reading about the nutritional and health benefits of raw chicken bones, did you?
While these tasty treats might gross you out, they’re incredibly important in your cat’s diet. Eating a raw chicken bone or two can help your furry friend maintain the health of her own bones, muscles, and fur.
They’re great for her dental health and dental hygiene (contrary to popular belief). The more she chews on raw chicken bones, the more she strengthens the top coat of her teeth. And gets rid of any food residue or plaque buildup.
Who doesn’t love a good win-win situation?
What to look out for when feeding raw chicken bones to your cat
Your four-legged friend can’t seem to have the good without the bad, can she? Cats can eat raw chicken bones without any repercussions, but…
That doesn’t mean that you should just sit back and let her scoff down any raw chicken bones she can get her paws on. First things first, raw chicken bones can contain parasites and bacteria (salmonella or campylobacter) that can cause serious harm to your cat.
Cats with sensitive digestive systems are more prone to getting these sorts of infections, but it’s better to err on the safe side. Use only reputable meat suppliers, consult with your vet, and keep a close eye on your cat whenever you’re feeding her raw chicken bones or any other type of raw foods.
Also, make sure to check for bone shards and splinters after she visits her litter box. And of course, be on the lookout for any signs of digestive problems.
Cats can eat chicken bones, but…
That doesn’t mean that they should. If you’re planning on sharing a plate of chicken with a side of chicken bones with your furry friend, make sure to consult with your vet beforehand.
Cooked chicken bones don’t make for the best cat treat because they can break and splinter, becoming a choking hazard. But don’t worry, raw chicken bones are the way to go!
They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, and they bring a bunch of nutritional and health benefits to your cat’s table. More importantly, they’re much more gentle on your cat’s mouth and throat.