Shrimp is a popular seafood for humans to eat, found on things like pizza, sandwiches, appetizer platters, sushi, and many other meals and snacks. And if you’re eating shrimp, odds are, attracted by the smell, your cat will start mooching for it too. Can cats eat shrimp safely? How can you make sure that it is something safe for cats to eat?
Shrimp is almost always safe for cats to eat, assuming you either feed your cat plain cooked shrimp or very high-quality, organic, free-range raw shrimp. (Cooking is safer since you can never tell if a seller is telling the truth or not about the source of the shrimp unless you’re getting it fresh off the boat!)
And of course, there are some things to keep in mind when letting your cat indulge in this crustacean. But as long as you treat the shrimp as a snack and a treat rather than a daily occurrence, it’s safe and can be pretty beneficial.
Do Cats Like Shrimp?
Cats are carnivores, shrimp are meat, and they have a smell that attracts most cats. Shrimp is often added to cat food as a replacement for other meat products, along with things like salmon and tuna. It’s a fairly universal ingredient found in many wet and dry foods. And most cats will quite happily eat food with shrimp in it or go after your shrimp!
A couple of my cats have enjoyed shrimp in their wet food, one of my cats hates seafood of all kinds, and one of my cats was allergic to seafood, so the question of whether cats like shrimp can be more difficult to answer than it would seem. It’s likely that the majority of cats enjoy shrimp, but there will always be those cats that do not.
If you’re not sure, try your cat on a little bit of cat food with shrimp in it and see what your pet thinks of it.
Do Cats Hate Shrimp?
Some cats probably do hate shrimp (I’ve had one that did!) Just like humans, the taste preferences that cats hold can vary widely.
Can Shrimp Kill Cats?
Unless your cat is severely allergic to shrimp, it’s pretty unlikely that shrimp will kill your cat. There’s nothing in shrimp that is toxic and as long as it is prepared with no salt, seasonings, or oils, it’s perfectly safe. Even the shrimp shells are safe for cats to eat, as well as their legs and heads!
The one part of the shrimp you’ll want to avoid giving your cat is the digestive tract. This is because the digestive tract will probably have poop in it that contains bits and chemicals of whatever the shrimp ate before it was caught. That could be hazardous to your cat (not to mention not very appetizing!)
Raw shrimp can be problematic for cats, especially farmed shrimp. Raw shrimp can contain things like E.Coli, salmonella, and/or listeria which can cause illness and infection.
This is why, if you’re going to let your cat have raw shrimp, it should be from a fresh, free-range, organic source and even then, we’d strongly recommend cooking it, just to be safe.
Cats can also be allergic to shrimp. If you notice signs like:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive itching or skin infections
Contact your vet and discontinue feeding your pet. Some cats are allergic to shrimp and while it’s not common, it can cause a great deal of discomfort for everyone involved!
How Much Shrimp is Safe for Your Cat?
Cats don’t need to eat a lot of shrimp to be happy. It should be either part of their regular food as an ingredient or fresh shrimp should be a treat. While shrimp is a good source of protein and other healthy minerals and vitamins, it’s also high in cholesterol and for cats, a little goes a long way.
Most small to medium size cats can handle one normal size shrimp or half a jumbo shrimp. Large breeds of cat can probably eat entire jumbo shrimp, no problem.
It’s a good idea to cook shrimp before feeding it to your cat to kill any potentially harmful bacteria and make sure you pull out the digestive tract.
Many people also say that you should pull off the head, shell, legs, and tail, but many cats can handle these parts if they get a hold of a whole shrimp, so don’t worry too much. (The one concern is that the tail or shell can present a choking hazard, but plenty of cats like crunching on these things, so monitor your pet to be safe). Shrimp should also be deveined.
Allowing your cat to gorge on shrimp will probably give them a stomachache and eating it too often can raise their cholesterol, so either go for cat food with shrimp in it or the occasional piece of shrimp as a treat.
The Health Benefits of Shrimp for Cats
Shrimp has a number of health benefits that make it a very good treat to offer your cat:
- Shrimp is a good source of Vitamin E, B3, B6, and B12, all of which are things that cats can make very good use of
- Shrimp contains Omega 3 fatty acid which is good for blood flow and heart and brain functions.
- Antioxidants help the nervous system, decrease the risk of diabetes, and decrease the risk of colon cancer.
- And of course, protein!
Many cats also like the texture of the shells and tails, the moistness of the shrimp itself, and the flavor and smell.
Kittens can benefit from having a bit of shrimp in their diet too! Just make sure to wait until they are fully weaned (so over 12 weeks of age) and have been eating solid food for a week or two and only offer a very small piece. Assuming the kitten eats the shrimp and isn’t allergic, all of those nutritional benefits can really aid its growth.
Shrimp, when it’s served either plain cooked or raw, is generally well-received by cats. It’s full of nutrients, has a flavor most cats enjoy and is safe for cats and kittens to eat.
Just make sure that you either cook the shrimp with no added salt or seasonings or if you’re going to go with raw shrimp, that’s it’s completely organic and free-range to prevent the ingestion of chemicals.
Cats can also usually eat the heads, shells, legs, and tail (though don’t let them get too much or they may get indigestion!), but the shrimp should be deveined, and the intestinal tract removed. Then let your cat enjoy!
Does your cat like shrimp?