Can Cats Eat Live Goldfish?

Can Cats Eat Live Goldfish?

If you have ever had cats and fish together in the same house, you’ve probably been kind of worried about your fish (unless they are in a completely enclosed tank).

Most cats are quite fascinated by fish and will watch them for a long time – and if they are able to, they might bat at the water! Do you have to worry that your cat will eat your fish and if they do, worry about what will happen next?

Can cats eat live goldfish?

Short answer: Technically they could; however, aside from the horror of losing your fish, there are a few reasons why you would want to strongly discourage your cat from doing so. And you can also feel relieved that most cats probably wouldn’t actually go for your fish unless they have displayed ‘fishing’ behaviors before.

Watching goldfish is basically like watching a really interesting television show for us: fascinating, but most cats aren’t going to take it much farther than staring in rapt attention for long periods of time.

Do Cats Like Eating Live Goldfish?

Your cat may look like it’s ready to eat your goldfish, but actually, most cats won’t eat them. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Most cats are not natural ‘fishers’ and would rather avoid water
  • Most cats don’t actually eat fish as part of their natural diet and would rather eat their own cat food

That being said, there are plenty of stories of cat owners losing goldfish to their cat, so it’s certainly not unheard of, just not as common as you might think.

Do Cats Hate Eating Live Goldfish?

Most cats probably wouldn’t bother with live goldfish. Why get your paws wet going after something slippery when there’s perfectly good cat food to be had?

A cat that is hungry though is more likely to do it than a cat that is well-fed, and feral or undomesticated cats have been known to go after fish when they can get it. And some cats will fish and be good at it, depending on their breeds and their temperament.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that cats hate eating live goldfish – if they are hungry enough, they will likely eat them just fine. But if there’s an easier alternative (like food that isn’t in water and moving around), most cats will go for it instead.

Will My Cat Die from Eating Live Goldfish?

If your cat did eat your goldfish, you may be worrying that your cat may have gotten itself into more trouble than just from you. And this is a viable concern, though unless you are very unlucky, your cat probably won’t die from eating a live goldfish.

There are a few things though that may be cause for concern.

  • The small bones found in fish can be a choking hazard or can at least scratch up the inside of a cat’s mouth and throat or even perforate their digestive system, causing a lot of discomfort, internal bleeding, and yes, even death. Goldfish aren’t very big, but they have lots of tiny bones that can cause a cat difficulty.
  • Goldfish are also carriers of tapeworms which can then be passed to your cat when they eat the fish. Tapeworms can cause all manner of problems for cats, though malnutrition is one of the biggest ones.
  • Goldfish can be contaminated with heavy metals or poisons, depending on their source, which will then be passed along to your cat.
  • Raw fish can carry bacteria that can make a cat sick.

Now, it could be that your cat eats a goldfish and is perfectly fine afterward, but it’s really not worth the risk. Plus, then you’ve lost your goldfish in a rather awful way!Can Cats Eat Live Goldfish?

You should also not bother to buy goldfish with the intent of letting your cat eat them. Not only are you risking your cat’s health, but most cats won’t be all that interested in them anyway.

Fish aren’t really a key part of a cat’s diet, even in the wild, and most cats won’t be willing to get their paws wet chasing something they don’t really care about. Goldfish are also just not that enticing for cats to think about eating – they’re fairly small, fast, and related to bottom-feeding fish which makes them not too terribly tasty. Stick to regular cat food for cats!

How Many Live Goldfish are Safe for My Cat?

Any goldfish can have parasites, bacteria, or just make cats run the risk of choking or injury, so it’s really not worth feeding your cat any goldfish.

While goldfish do have some good protein and omega-3 fatty acids, you’re far better off giving your cat canned fish cat food rather than having them hunt their own fish.

It’s a lot safer and more nutritionally complete, plus it’s more likely that your cat will actually eat it. Furthermore, it’s just kind of cruel to feed a live goldfish to a cat and it’s not even very entertaining for the cat for very long.

We wouldn’t recommend feeding your cat live goldfish at all. Instead, give them canned cat food made from fish or some well-cooked fish. This gives them the same nutritional benefits, without all of the risks.

How Do I Keep My Cat Away from My Goldfish?

So, since we don’t particularly want our cats eating our goldfish, the next obvious question is how to prevent it from happening.

There are a few things you can do:

  • Use a heavy, strong fish tank that won’t easily fall or break
  • Cover the fish tank properly. If your cat cannot reach the fish, they won’t bother trying
  • Put the aquarium somewhere high and away from climbable things like curtains.
  • Don’t put lights or other moving things in the tank as this will also attract your cat
  • Keep your cat well fed and then they won’t bother trying to catch the fish
  • Make sure your cat has its own toys and sources of entertainment (including plenty of attention from you)
  • Use spray bottles to dissuade your cat from going after the fish

But also understand that goldfish are fun for cats to watch, and you may not be able to keep your cat completely away. You can, however, keep your fish safe with a heavy lid, a solid tank, and plenty of proper food for your cat so that they don’t feel the need to eat fish.


Although it may seem like cats should eat goldfish and may even benefit from it, the truth is that most cats cannot be bothered to hunt them and even if they could, they really shouldn’t.

Goldfish have too many health risks for cats and not enough benefits that couldn’t have been derived from their usual food. Goldfish are best left as something fun for cats to watch and protected with a solid tank and enough food for the cat that the fish won’t be tempting.

Has your cat ever eaten a goldfish?