Can cats eat tilapia or is this freshwater fish something your furry friend should stay away from?
You know for a fact that cats adore fish. Once you pop one in the oven or onto the barbeque, you know that she’ll make a beeline for you.
Licking her whickers seems to be the first sign that she’s excited for the food that’s going to be brought to the table. There she is, with her watchful eyes, watching your every move.
She’s trying really hard to catch your attention with her little meows. It’s like she’s screaming “Give me some, mom, please!”
How are you supposed to deny her anything? However, you know that a cat’s tummy is sensitive. Even though she’s an obligate carnivore, you’re wondering if she could still have issues with tilapia.
Good for you that your cat isn’t in much danger here. In this article, we’ll help you understand the pros and cons of your cat eating this particular type of fish.
Can cats eat tilapia?
Long story short: Yes! You can give your cat tilapia and she won’t have any problems with it.
Fish isn’t a carnivore’s main source of nutrients and it should never be the main portion of her meal. But popular fish like tuna, sardines, salmon, and others, are more than welcome in a cat’s diet.
One thing you should definitely pay attention to is whether or not the tilapia comes from clean waters. You also need to be careful to not give her too much, because more than twice a week can create digestive issues for your little hunter.
First off, always cook it. It doesn’t matter if you do it in a pan, grill it, or boil it. Tilapia will be much safer for your cat in this form.
This is an important step because raw tilapia could be filled with parasites, bacteria, salmonella, and other germs. Even if it was kept in the freezer, it still doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat raw.
A fish that’s frozen for over a week at -20 degrees celsius can only be cured of parasites, but not bacteria. Also, raw fish contains fish oil that has thiaminase, which destroys thiamine and vitamin B1. So cooking it before giving it to your cat is a must.
Another thing you need to beware of is not to add any harmful ingredients to the fish. Don’t use any salt or seasoning on it, especially not garlic and onions.
At the end of the day, you definitely need to consult your vet if you notice any behavioral changes after the intake of tilapia. Your cat can eat homemade food, but if that’s the case, you need to know exactly what you’re doing (in other words, you need to follow the advice of professionals).
How much tilapia can cats eat?
Your cat doesn’t understand portions. Just like my cats don’t understand that one bowl of food is more than enough!
They always want more, so they keep meowing until I comply. When it comes to commercial foods for cats, it’s easier because you know that it’s specifically made for them.
On the other hand, home cooked meals aren’t always the safest option out there. You need to make sure that the food is always prepared in a way that’s okay for your furry feline to eat.
So if you’re asking yourself if cats can eat tilapia in large quantities, well, they can’t. They need the appropriate meat in their diet to function properly.
You can always take a small piece of the fish and put it in front of your cat. But even if she seems okay and wants more, be mindful about how much you give her. Once you give her too much and she starts showing serious health issues, it’ll be too late.
You also need to make sure that there are no bones in her portion! Small fish bones could be highly detrimental to your cat.
I know what you’re thinking right now. “Cats usually munch through the bones, so why should I remove them from the fish?” But bear in mind that this only goes for big bones.
Small bones are a choking hazard as they can easily get stuck in her throat. Sometimes, small bones can even get stuck in their digestive system and be fatal.
The bottom line is that tilapia should be nothing more than a tasty little treat that you give her twice a week, at most. More than that could cause serious issues.
Nutritional benefits of tilapia for cats
If we’re talking about whether or not cats can eat tilapia, then we should also address the nutritional benefits. In smaller amounts, it could definitely have its perks.
To start off, tilapia is an amazing source of proteins, fats, vitamin B12, selenium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, and even potassium. Together with other minerals and vitamins, this makes it a near perfect treat for your cat.
Even with all those supplements that you’re giving her, this type of fish could be just as good for her. In the long run, giving her tilapia every once in a while can help her body become even stronger.
There are studies that show that large doses of omega-6 and omega-3, which can be found in tilapia, can cause inflammation in humans. Good thing is that there’s no sign of any of that in felines.
If you cook it thoroughly, it should be more than okay for your cat to eat.
How can tilapia be bad for cats?
We already said that uncooked tilapia isn’t safe for your cat to eat. Take the extra precautionary step and cook it for her.
But the truth stands that you need to be careful about where you get it. If you have a suspicion that it’s going bad or that it’s been a while since it’s been out of the water without being frozen, then it’s better if you choose against giving it to your cat.
The taste and texture of tilapia may differ depending on the batch, so it may be difficult for your cat to eat it. Unless your furchild is enthusiastic about munching on it, then you should probably find something that she would enjoy much more.
There are so many other fish with the same benefits out there, that there’s no reason for you to force your cat to eat tilapia.