Can cats eat salmon?

Advice on feeding fish

Although our house cats are generally reluctant to get their paws wet in order to pull a tasty fish out of the pond or river themselves, food that comes from the water is very popular with them. Usually the smell of freshly fried fish or the opened tuna can is enough to lure the cat into the kitchen in a matter of seconds. In the case of healthy animals, there is basically nothing wrong with serving a second portion in a bowl. In the long run, fish alone would not meet the cat's need for minerals and trace elements, but a certain proportion of fish in the diet is healthy and digestible.

"Since fish has a lower proportion of connective tissue than meat, it is considered easy to digest and is therefore also suitable for cats with a sensitive digestive system," says veterinarian Silke Hieronymus, who offers nutritional advice for cats, dogs and horses. The omega-3 fatty acids contained in fatty fish protect the heart, are good for the blood and eyes, have an anti-inflammatory effect and can thus help with joint inflammation and rheumatic diseases. Some scientists even suspect that fish fatty acids can prevent tumors from developing. “In barf recipes, fish is often used to a small extent in the daily ration to meet the vitamin D requirement. In addition to vitamin D, cod liver oil obtained from cod also provides plenty of vitamin A, ”says the feeding expert from Hombrechtikon ZH. Fish is also a well-known source of iodine. But since the iodine content fluctuates greatly depending on the type of fish, one or two fish meals a week often do not cover the iodine requirement. If you prepare the cat food yourself, you usually have to add iodine.

The situation is different for four-legged friends who suffer from an overactive thyroid, a so-called hyperthyroidism. “With this disease, care must be taken to ensure that the iodine supply is optimal and not too high. The patients should therefore not be given an unlimited supply of fish, ”says Hieronymus. You should also be careful with animals with a fat digestive disorder, as they can only tolerate fatty fish such as salmon poorly. There are also cats that are allergic to fish.

Better cooked than raw
If there are no health problems against it, the cat is allowed to eat all types of fish that masters and mistresses can also eat. “Trout, saithe, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sprats, sardines, herring, carp, cod, pike and perch are particularly suitable for home-cooked rations. In general, saltwater fish are preferable to freshwater fish, ”says Hieronymus. If you want to do good not only for your velvet paw, but also for the environment, you should make sure when shopping that the fish comes from healthy stocks and has been caught using gentle methods. An overview is provided, for example, in the 2016 fish guide from the environmental organization Greenpeace.

The vet recommends removing the larger bones and boiling or frying the fish before feeding. “In this way you can switch off bacteria, parasites and the enzyme thiaminase. This is found in some species such as herring, carp, mackerel, cod and pike and breaks down thiamine (vitamin B1). As a result, the vitamin, which among other things supports various nerve functions, is no longer available to the body and deficiency symptoms can occur. "

Anyone who decides to feed raw fish frequently, despite the increased risk of infection, should therefore choose thiaminase-free types of fish such as perch, catfish and butterfish. Alternatively, you can counteract the vitamin B deficiency by adding brewer's yeast to your diet.

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