Can Cats Eat Tuna? – Can I Feed My Cat Tuna?

Can cats eat Tuna -
can my cat eat tuna

Published on April

Tuna is a common flavor that we see on many different forms of feline snacks and diets. We’ve always been told how much our furry friends love the taste of fish, so it’s no wonder so many cat owners ask the same question; Can my cat eat tuna?

In this article we’ll cover the details behind feeding your cat tuna, the reasons why tuna can be harmful to your feline companion, and the safety measures you should take when giving your cat tuna.


So can cats eat tuna? 

The short answer to this question is yes, but in small amounts and not too often. While our cats eagerly come running at the crack of a tuna can, it’s important to understand the potential risks that come along with feeding this tasty treat. 

The safety behind feeding your cat tuna will vary based on how often they eat it, what type of tuna they eat, and how much you offer them at feeding time. In order to help you decide whether this treat is right for your feline BFF, let’s dive into the details!

Can tuna be your cat’s primary diet?

While your cat may love the taste of their favorite tuna treat, it’s important to know that tuna lacks the essential ingredients that your cat needs to thrive. The kibble and canned diets that are sold at our favorite pet stores are made specifically with feline health in mind, and are enriched with taurine and essential vitamins. 

Vitamins and taurine are essential for our cats to carry out their daily metabolic processes. Taurine is needed to keep their heart strong and healthy, while certain vitamins are needed to promote immune support and keep other body systems in tip top shape.

When a cat is only fed tuna each day, they will lack these essential ingredients that help them feel their best. If your cat goes an extended period of time without taurine or other beneficial nutrients, they will begin to experience serious health complications. No matter how much your cat loves tuna, it’s not fitting for a daily diet option. 

How much tuna can your cat eat?

Now that you’re aware of how harmful it can be to feed your cat a tuna only diet, you may be wondering how much tuna you can offer as a treat. While this can vary based on the type of tuna you’re offering your cat, we can give you some guidance!

Veterinarians do warn against tuna as a frequent treat for your cat, but don’t believe it’s harmful if given in small moderation to a healthy cat. A small spoon full of canned tuna in water is safe to give your cat once or twice a week, but no more. You can also consider putting some juice from that can of tuna on one of their meals once a week for an added boost of flavor, but make sure this is not a common practice. 

Cooked tuna or canned tuna in water can be safely used as an infrequent treat, as an incentive to get a sick cat to eat their normal diet, or any other rare situation that may benefit from the addition of tuna. As long as you are not relying on tuna as a staple in your cat’s diet, it should be just fine. 

Can cats eat canned tuna in water?

Canned tuna in water is one of the best options in comparison to other canned fish options. Since canned tuna in water is often lower in fat and contains less salt, this is often a healthier alternative for a rare treat for your feline friend. Just remember that even though this option is better than canned tuna in oil, it still should only be offered in moderation. 

Due to this being a healthier alternative to tuna in oil, many choose to pour tuna water over their cat’s normal meal as a tasty treat, or as an incentive to eat their food. Tuna water is perfectly safe for your furry friend as long as you follow the same rules of moderation. 

Can cats eat canned tuna in oil?

If you want your cat to enjoy a small bite of canned tuna, this is not the healthiest option. Tuna canned in oil is high in fat, high in sodium, and can lead to health complications due to these factors. If you insist on offering your cat a rare treat of canned tuna, it’s best to offer tuna canned in water versus oil. 

Can cats eat raw tuna?

Raw meat of any kind can be extremely dangerous for our feline friends. Though we’ve all seen the photos of cats proudly carrying raw fish in their mouths, it’s important to ignore the propaganda and stick to the facts. 

Just like us, cats can experience food poisoning due to the bacteria that is present in raw fish. This bacteria can cause severe GI upset, can contain bacteria that can affect vital organs, and can even cause fatal symptoms in some cases. Raw food is NEVER a safe option, even if it is tuna!

Potential Risks Of Feeding Tuna

Since tuna is not considered a balanced meal for our furry friends, there are some risks associated with feeding a cat tuna. Tuna can also come in many shapes and forms, so some tuna options can be more risky than others. Some possible risks for your tuna loving cat include:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea due to eating too much tuna, or eating tuna that is high in salt or fat.
  • Lack of essential ingredients in their diet due to eating tuna frequently.
  • Canned tuna can contain high amounts of mercury which can be harmful to cats if they eat it too often. 
  • Eating tuna with a high fat content can lead to weight gain, liver complications, and other forms of health decline. 
  • Eating too much tuna can actually result in a weakened immune system due to the ingredients in tuna that inhibit the production of vitamin B1. 

Healthy Snack Alternatives

Though we’ve discussed how tuna can be safe in moderation, we understand if you’d like a few healthy alternatives to offer your cat instead. Here are a few healthy snack options for your favorite furry friend in place of tuna:

  • Boiled and skinless chicken
  • Boiled and skinless turkey
  • Cooked eggs
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green beans

While these are safe options for a healthy cat, just remember to always offer them in small moderation in comparison to their daily diet.


Tuna can be a tasty treat for your favorite feline as long as you follow a few safety guidelines. Make sure to educate yourself on the tips we mentioned above, and your cat can safely enjoy their favorite fish snack!


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