Did you know that cats don’t actually eat fish when they are in the wild? It’s true! All of their nutritional needs are met through eating red meat, such as rodents and birds. But just about every cat I’ve ever known (barring my Siamese who was allergic) absolutely loved fish.
Cat food that is flavored with things like salmon, tuna, and whitefish abound on grocery store shelves and I’ve never heard any complaints from my pets when they get their dinner.
However, not all fish are created equal – some of them carry heavier amounts of mercury in them for example, and raw fish contains a lot of parasites that can harm your pet. Therefore, it’s important to think about the best kinds of fish to eat and mackerel is at the top of the list.
So, can cats eat mackerel?
Absolutely, so long as it is done in moderation. Mackerel has some great health benefits and can often entice cats to eat when they’d rather not or to help them clear constipation. But too much mackerel can contain its own problems, so you should only give it to your cat as a treat.
Do Cats Like Mackerel?
Although cats don’t need fish to meet their nutritional needs, they certainly love eating it. Mackerel is generally well-loved by most cats – open up a can of it and see for yourself one day. In fact, there are stories of cats nearly fighting over it when they have to ‘guard’ their share!
Now, of course, there will be variations in taste buds and there probably are cats out there who shrug at fish. In fact, my oldest cat didn’t use to care for seafood at all, though she seems to have come around in the last week or two and now enjoys fish cat food, so she too may go for mackerel given the chance.
Do Cats Hate Mackerel?
Cats have a varied palate just like anything else. There probably are cats who really don’t care about mackerel or might not like it at all. If that happens to be your cat, you don’t really have to worry too much about it – fish is best served as a treat anyway and they aren’t nutritionally sound enough for cats to live on.
In fact, overdoing any fish can cause issues with vitamin E deficiencies since the fish oils actually pull it out of the cat’s body and block absorption.
Can Eating Mackerel Kill My Cat?
Can cats overindulge on mackerel?
Well, sort of. But it probably wouldn’t kill your cat unless it refused to eat anything else. Mackerel may be a fantastic treat, but it doesn’t have all of the nutrients that a cat needs to stay healthy.
For example, it’s lacking in taurine which is only found in high enough quantities in animal flesh and cats need a certain amount to stay healthy. Cats can also eat it to the point of getting sick of it and then you’ll have to find something else for your pet to eat.
Mackerel is also high in fish oil. In small quantities, there’s nothing wrong with that for cats, but in high quantities, it can lead to a depletion in Vitamin E, causing deficiencies. Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include:
- Muscle weaknesses
- Liver hepatitis
- Heart dysfunction
- Colon hemorrhages
- Abdomen sensitivity
- Steatites (yellow fat disease – lumpy fat deposits, loss of appetite, greasy coat, fever, and pain)
Cats need about 2.5 mg of Vitamin E a day which they normally get from their food, so you don’t want to strip that out by feeding them too much mackerel (or any fish really).
Pacific mackerel has a slight risk of containing thiaminase which is an enzyme that destroys B-vitamin in cats and leads to a vitamin B deficiency. This is only an issue if the fish isn’t cooked first, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
If you want a mackerel that is thiaminase-free, go for Atlantic mackerel as it has none.
The other potential issue is that some cats are allergic to seafood, including mackerel. Symptoms of a fish allergy can include:
- Irritated skin
Fish is actually the third most common allergen for cats, after dairy products and beef. My Siamese cross was allergic to all fish in any food, making buying food for her a little more complicated!
How Much Mackerel Can My Cat Eat?
It’s recommended that cats have no more than one serving of mackerel a week. This gives them the optimal benefits of mackerel without the drawbacks and will make your cat very happy!
Mackerel can also be used as a way to entice cats to eat if they are refusing to and the oil from canned mackerel can be used to treat constipation or to pass hairballs.
In order to make mackerel safe for kitty consumption, it should be canned or cooked. Raw mackerel should never be served to a cat as it may contain parasites that can make your pet quite ill.
Mackerel is considered to be one of the safest fish to eat as it usually comes from deep waters which are less polluted and unlikely to be tainted with heavy metals.
Mackerel does have some solid benefits for cats:
- A good source of protein
- Adds variety to your cat’s diet
- Easily digested
- Rich in minerals that are good for cats such as riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and zinc
Again though, it’s important to serve cooked or canned mackerel to your cat, never raw.
Mackerel is probably one of the best fish you can serve your cat. It doesn’t have heavy metals in it, it’s full of good fats and protein, and cats tend to go completely ballistic for it.
Canned mackerel also tends to be quite affordable, so if you’re looking for a cheap treat, you can’t go too far wrong with it. All in all, mackerel is one of the better human food treats out there and your cat will probably thank you for it.
Does your cat go ballistic for mackerel?