If you’re making a roast chicken for dinner, you can be sure that at least one cat will be sniffing the air curiously as the day progresses and there will certainly be demands for a share of the meat once you’re carving it!
In fact, probably most cat owners can attest to the fact that chicken is not safe to have around cats if you expect it to go unchewed, because most cats adore it! Is chicken safe to feed cats? What about raw chicken and the bones or even just the breast?
Cats can absolutely eat chicken breast and it’s definitely up there as a feline favorite. Chicken is a great source of protein and cats require a lot of protein to stay healthy. It’s also a lean meat, low in fat and calories, and is gentle on the stomachs of cats that are older or have stomach issues. All around, it’s generally a good thing to give to your cat.
That being said, there are some things to keep in mind. You don’t want to feed your cat chicken in an unsafe manner and there are certainly some ‘best practices’ to keep in mind.
Do Cats Like Chicken?
By and large, yes they do. This is evidenced not only by the plaintive meowing you’ll hear as you carve your dinner but also by the fact that most cat food has chicken flavor in it. Cats are hardwired to go after sources of meat and chicken is a common and popular one. As a result, most cats will really like chicken and will happily eat whatever you give them, for better or worse.
Do Cats Hate Chicken?
My geriatric cat is not a fan of chicken (she’s very particular). In theory, she will beg for her share, but if I give her any, she ignores it. She’ll only have chicken flavored treats and her kibble cannot be pure chicken. And forget chicken canned food; she turns her nose up at it every time. So, while it seems weird, there are cats – well, at least one – that don’t care for chicken.
Can Chicken Kill Cats?
While chicken is generally safe and healthy for cats to eat, there are some things to keep in mind that can cause problems for cats and can even lead to their death if things go very badly.
First of all, any chicken you give to a cat should be plain and boneless. Cooked chicken bones splinter far too easily which can cause damage to the stomach and be a choking hazard. If you are going to let your cat chew on bones, they should be raw and sturdy such as the neck bones. However, this brings us to our next potential hazard: raw chicken.
While birds in the wild will of course eat raw birds, raw chicken can be problematic. This is because farmed raw chicken can contain salmonella and e. Coli bacteria which can cause diseases in cats.
It can also cause toxoplasmosis. Salmonella in cats can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and stomach discomfort and if a cat is ill like this for too long, these things can cause organ damage or even death. If you do want to feed your cat raw chicken, make sure it comes from a reputable butcher and talk to your vet about the best ways to manage a raw diet.
Any chicken given to cats should also be unseasoned. In particular, cats should avoid garlic and onions as these things can be quite toxic. You also don’t want to give cats salt since they can’t handle nearly as much of it as humans can.
How Much Chicken is Safe for Cats to Have?
While chicken is something that is safe enough for cats to have, they shouldn’t be living on it alone as chicken won’t provide all of the nutrition they need.
When feeding your cat chicken, you only want to do a small amount; part of a thigh or chicken breast (dark meat is better than white because it has more taurine, but breast meat is fine too) and only a couple of times a week. It’s not meant to be a total meal replacement, but it does make for a good meal supplement.
Plain boiled chicken is the best thing to give cats. It should have no skin and the boiling strips away the fat so that you are left with good, lean protein.
Chicken is also a good way to entice a cat who’s been ill to eat. Bland chicken and rice is as good for cats as it is for humans after a bout of diarrhea or vomiting that has left a cat weak and disinterested in food.
Senior cats may also benefit from eating this on occasion as it gives them a boost of energy and fiber. Again though, it’s not something you want to make cats live on as they will grow bored of the flavor and that much fiber can cause other stomach issues.
The Health Benefits of Chicken for Cats
Chicken has a ton of benefits for cats. These benefits are not only found in the meat, but also in the bones (especially when rendered down to a broth so that you don’t have to worry about choking). Benefits of chicken for cats include:
- Plenty of lean protein
- Taurine, a mineral that cats need in order to stay healthy. The darker the meat, the more taurine there is in it
- Chicken bone broth is good for the liver, digestion, immune system, joints, bones, hydration, and as an aid to weight loss or maintaining good weight. It’s popular to give to older or weakened cats since it’s easy for them to eat and packs a good punch of nutrition. You want to make sure that it’s as low/no sodium as possible and it’s best if you make it yourself since then you’ll know exactly what is in it.
- Chicken is low in calories, making it a good treat
Chicken is also gentle on cat stomachs and generally well-liked.
If you are looking for a great treat or even a bit of a meal supplement, chicken is definitely near the top of the list. It’s high in taurine and protein, low in calories, generally well-received by cats, and easy to prepare.
It’s a good way to entice old or ill cats to eat and the bone broth is full of nutrients. All around, chicken tends to be a winner!
Unless you have a fifteen-year-old, geriatric calico like mine who prefers beef, thank you very much.
Does your cat love chicken? How do you give it to them?