Cat parents, do you ever have to sneak into your own house whenever you come home with chicken takeaways? Most likely, the answer is too many times! It seems like your cats can smell chicken from miles away. Also, odds are that you’ve barely had the chance to enjoy every bit of your gourmet fried chicken whenever your cats are around. However, can cats eat chicken? Is it safe for them to eat chicken?
Being obligate carnivores, obviously, the smell of fried chicken makes them come running. And they’ll have a feeding frenzy when the delicious cuisine is just before their very eyes. Since it’s an animal protein, you’ll likely presume that your cats can eat all kinds of chicken without any harm. Guess what? That’s not entirely true! Let’s dig into this.
Is Chicken Safe For Cats?
Yes, chicken is safe for your kittens and adult cats as long as they’re adequately prepared. In fact, their diet should be primarily made up of animal products. Chicken in small quantities is fine, but shouldn’t be a constant meal substitute. Furthermore, it should be cooked as ‘naked’ as possible, without oils or seasonings, as those additives are dangerous to your cats, especially onions and garlic.
The Health Benefits
Very Rich in Protein
Protein should make up at least 35% of your cats’ food. Rest assured that this nutrient is abundantly found in poultry meat. Chicken breast is an excellent source of lean protein and contains low sodium and fat. This will be an advantage to your cats. On the other hand, thighs and wings have a more equal nutrient split between protein and fat. So you might want to offer them sparingly to your cats.
High Concentration of Essential Fatty Acids
High-quality chicken meat is packed full of essential fatty acids, which are grouped into two: Omega-6 and Omega-3. Each of them plays a different role in your cat’s body.
Omega-6 fatty acids help maintain your cats’ healthy skin and coat condition and ensure normal growth. These fatty acids are also crucial for the ideal membrane structure that surrounds every nerve cell responsible for many of the brain’s functions. Additionally, they support the absorption and transport of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
Linoleic acid is the most valuable Omega-6 fatty acid found in chicken meat as it can’t be produced by your cats on their own. It’s needed to make another essential fatty acid, called arachidonic acid, which is vital for the synthesis of various hormones. These hormones then regulate many of your cats’ physiological processes.
Healthy Skin for Cats
Omega-3 fatty acids also ensure healthy skin for your cats. They have anti-inflammatory properties that mostly benefit cats with allergies, dry skin or hotspots. Sufficient Omega-3 fatty acids can improve the overall health of your cats’ hair follicles, ensuring a shiny coat, less shedding, and in turn, fewer hairballs.
Senior cats will benefit from Omega-3 fatty acids too. They soothe inflammation in the joints, especially for those suffering from arthritis, and are good for overall joint health.
Excellent Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Selenium and vitamin B complex are examples of nutrients needed by your cats. The good news is that they can get a high amount of these nutrients from chicken meat. Selenium is used to produce antioxidants that help their bodies combat free radicals and defend against certain cancers. Also, experts believe that selenium can protect your cats against the side effects of mercury, likely by preventing its absorption.
Chicken and Niacin
Chicken is most notable for its niacin (vitamin B3) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) content. Niacin is the key compound in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Unlike other animals, your cats are unable to synthesize niacin on their own. Therefore, it has to come from food. This vitamin is essential to maintain your cats’ healthy skins, bones, and joints. It also ensures the health of mucous membranes (denoted by pink gums and eyelid tissues), as well as the proper function of the digestive and central nervous systems.
Pyridoxine plays a vital role in synthesizing proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells). In simple terms, pyridoxine influences both the physical and mental health of your cats. Some of its primary functions are:
- Balancing the sodium and potassium level
- Regulating water in your cats’ bodies
- Facilitating the fat and protein absorption
- Promoting red cell production
- Helping in cobalamin (vitamin B12) absorption
- Forming antibodies that aid in the immune system’s functioning
- Maintaining a healthy brain function
Remedy for Upset Stomach
Sometimes, your cats can have an upset stomach for several reasons, including switching their food too frequently, intestinal parasites, or any other health problems, and will usually refuse to eat. Prolonged appetite loss potentially leads to other pressing issues. In such a situation, bland food like plain chicken in broth can help to settle their stomachs and stimulate their appetites again. This way, you can encourage their water intake too.
Microorganisms in Raw Chicken
Raw chicken can contain campylobacter, salmonella, and E. coli. These bacteria are harmful not only to you but also to your cats. Eating raw chicken, even an organic one, can also put them at risk of a foodborne illness called toxoplasmosis as well as other infectious diseases. Although cats in the wild eat birds and other raw food, because of these possibly dangerous outcomes, always feed your domestic cats with thoroughly cooked chicken. To emphasize, cats can eat chicken if they are only cooked.
Chicken Bone Being A Choking Hazard
You might anticipate your cats chewing on a bone as their ancestors did. However, fragments and pieces of bone can easily break off, causing choking, airway obstruction, wounds in the mouth, as well as perforations and blockage of the esophagus and digestive tract.
Vitamin A Toxicosis
Organs, especially the liver, contain a high level of vitamin A. Your cats require vitamin A to maintain their superior night vision and healthy skin. The vitamin also benefits their immune system as it carries antioxidant properties, which assist in environmental pollution protection as well as cancer prevention.
However, excessive supplementation of vitamin A is toxic to your cats. New bone formation, commonly in the neck region, is often an indicator of vitamin A toxicosis. Adult cats might recover successfully, except for the bone malformations. On the contrary, kittens can suffer from permanent damage to their long bones (forelimb and hindlimb bones) which raise many other health problems down the road.
Can I Feed My Cat Chicken every day? Final Thoughts
Your cats can definitely benefit from a diet containing plain cooked chicken. In particular, high-quality chicken breast is very rich in lean protein but low in sodium and fat. It also has a high concentration of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and can be a home remedy for your cats’ upset stomach.
Before feeding your cats with this palatable protein, ensure that the meat is deboned and cooked thoroughly. If possible, skip the organs, especially the liver. While chicken is an excellent source of phosphorus, too much of this nutrient can potentially damage the kidney. So, if your cats are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, avoid feeding them chicken, and only maintain a low-protein and low-phosphorus diet.