Is Tuna Healthy For Cats? When speaking of tuna, most likely, the first thing that pops into your mind is the canned fish. After all, the canned tuna industry is over a century old now. This saltwater fish actually comes in 15 different species. Still, you’ll probably come across just these four: bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, and albacore (white tuna). On a side note, the world’s most expensive bluefin tuna is a whopping $3.1 million!
Well, who doesn’t love tuna? Tuna steaks, especially, are delicious and mouth-watering. However, you’re not the only one who finds the fish appetizing. Cats can go crazy over tuna too. In fact, cats and tuna naturally go together, just like popcorn and movie theater. But having said that, you probably can’t help but wonder if it’s really okay to give tuna to your precious cats.
Is Tuna Healthy For Cats?
Yes, it is. The key here is moderation. Your cats can eat any canned or cooked but raw tuna as long as they’re allowed occasionally. The safest way is by giving them specially formulated wet food for cats. It’s not only because of the digestible protein they contain but also the essential ingredients added such as taurine.
The Health Benefits Of Human-Grade Tuna
1. Promote Proper Growth and Development
Your cats need a lot of protein to generate and maintain their muscles, fur, and other anatomical structures. All protein is composed of 23 different amino acids. 12 of them can be naturally produced by your cat’s own body, hence called the non-essential amino acids. They aren’t necessarily required in your cats’ diet.
On the contrary, the remaining amino acids have to be outsourced from their food. They are:
These essential amino acids promote proper growth of your cats’ muscle and tissue, as well as other organs.
The good news is that your cats’ favorite fish, tuna, is very rich in high-quality protein, even richer than beef or chicken. Also, it’s a great source of the aforementioned essential amino acids, at least 9 of them are found in both raw and canned tuna.
2. Boost Immune System
Tuna also contains a substantial amount of vitamin A which is necessary to keep up your cats’ ability to see in the dark. It helps to avoid cataracts as well as other eye diseases, and protect the mucous membranes, thus reducing susceptibility to infections caused by environmental pollutants.
The high concentration of vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, ensures healthy nervous, immune, and digestive systems for your cats. It also helps to maintain your cats’ cognitive function and stimulates their appetite, a feature that is especially important for anorectic cats.
Besides that, the vitamin C found in tuna can inhibit cancer and viral infections. Adding on, it acts as an excellent antioxidant that cleanses toxins from your cats’ blood and tissues, thus benefiting them from fighting harmful bacteria and deadly viruses.
1. Incomplete Nutrition
Tuna on its own, including canned tuna made for humans, isn’t nutritionally complete for your cats. Moreover, canned tuna in oil or brine should never be given to your cats. As mentioned earlier, the commercial tuna wet cat foods aren’t just straight tuna. They’ve been supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and taurine to compensate for the lack of nutrients and make for wholesome cat food. Therefore, don’t get mixed up between canned tuna that is human-grade and the one formulated for cats.
2. High in Unsaturated Fats
While it’s recommended for us to include unsaturated fats in our diet, too much can affect the well-being of your cats. Feeding them with tuna in excess increases the risk of vitamin E deficiency which, in turn, leads to a painful condition known as nutritional fat necrosis. It’s also called steatitis or yellow fat disease. In simple terms, steatitis is the inflammation of the fatty tissue, and it looks so disgusting that you don’t want to know more about it. Cats can eat tuna or Avocado but not excessively.
3. Mercury Poisoning
Most fish have traces of mercury, and the higher up on the food chain a fish is, the more mercury it contains. As a predatory fish, it’s no surprise that tuna has accumulated more mercury than other fish, which can be easily passed to your cats. Particularly, canned albacore (white tuna) has triple times the mercury level of skipjack tuna (light tuna). To highlight, cats poisoned with mercury will be cognitively deteriorated, showing symptoms like loss of coordination and balance, and difficulty in walking.
4. Dental Problems
Although tuna wet cat foods are the safest option for your cats, they’ll likely affect their oral health. Cats don’t naturally chew their food. They either swallow whole or use their teeth beforehand to tear and shred if the food is too large. So, pieces of wet food can get stuck in their teeth and lead to bad breath, or worse, gum diseases such as gingivitis and stomatitis. In essence, if your cats eat wet food regularly, then they’ll need regular tooth brushing too. Otherwise, they might end up under anesthesia for dental scaling, or worse, extraction.
By the way, have you ever noticed that your cats are more fond of tuna than any other fish?
What Makes Tuna So Inviting To Eat?
The presentation usually is one of the reasons, but not so much for your cats. The real reason is tuna contains more red muscles than other fish which fuel their fast, eternal swim. Like sharks, tuna literally never stops swimming and its highest speed ever recorded is over 74 kilometres per hour! Anyway, these red muscles (blood meat) are the one that makes tuna more flavourful and appealing to cats.
Is Tuna Healthy For Cats? Final Thoughts
In moderation, canned or cooked tuna is a healthy snack for your cats. Cats can eat tuna in a nutshell. However, moderation is key. It provides most of the essential amino acids and contains vitamins that can strengthen your cats’ immune system. Still, tuna on its own isn’t nutritionally complete for your cats. Nevertheless, the best way to feed your cats with tuna is to get the specially formulated wet cat food available in the market.