Why do cats like fish?

In general, cats like to eat fish. In fact, at one time domestic felines ate more fish in the world than humans. Cats are carnivores! Meat should make up almost all of their diet, and that is the case for wild and feral felines. Fish is meat. So it makes sense that cats love fish. Keep in mind that every cat is unique and tastes vary. Many cat owners will tell you that their kittens prefer beef or poultry, while others run out of tuna faster than they can buy it. If cats could talk, maybe fish lovers would say the same thing as sushi lovers: fish tastes good!

The nutritional benefits of fish for cats

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, veterinary nutritionists say high-meat, low-grain diets are ideal for cats. Adult felines actually need two to three times more meat and protein than adult dogs, in part because they need specific amino acids found only in animal protein.

Fish protein specifically provides cats with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid essential for proper brain development and healthy skin. For this reason, Hill’s Pet Nutrition supplements its kitten food formulas with DHA to ensure as healthy an early development as possible.

What type of fish can I feed my cat?

Never give raw fish to your cat! Domestic cats can easily contract E. coli or salmonella infections from raw fish. Cooked fish is the only way to go, as long as you don’t use fancy dressings, thick oils, or herbs. Ideally, grill or bake the fish, cut it into bite-size pieces and remove all the bones.

Now, because fish oil (DHA) is so crucial for the healthy development of the kitten, it is better to serve fatty fish to your cat than white fish. Fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. Whitefish, like cod and haddock, isn’t bad for your cat, it just doesn’t provide many nutrients.

As someone who has resorted to canned tuna in the past when our wet food supply unexpectedly ran out, I am happy to say that canned tuna is acceptable for feeding cats in small amounts. However, Hill’s Pet Nutrition notes that tuna doesn’t provide many nutrients, and canned versions for humans often contain additives, like salt, that aren’t good for cats in high amounts. In fact, tuna in general should not make up the majority of a cat’s protein intake. Studies have shown that eating commercial tuna can make cats more lethargic, and its high mercury content can negatively impact mobility and overall health. Be sure to mix up the type of protein you feed your cat!

Why do cats like to eat fish?

Wild and feral cats do not trip over each other to eat fish. They feed mainly on land animals, not sea dwellers. So why do some cats like fish? It may be the strong smell that alerts them to a high-protein snack or meal. Maybe it’s their carnivorous instinct that kicks in when they can’t find other sources of protein. It could be life alongside humans who ate fish. Some cats like it for a little while, then change their mind. To be honest, every cat is unique and we don’t really know why cats like to eat fish.

There is a species of wild cat, nicknamed The Fishing Cat, known to feed on fish. Native to South and Southeast Asia, these cats like to swim (gasp!) and eat small mammals, birds, and fish. They may have developed a taste for fish simply due to their habitat’s proximity to water. Cats are often opportunistic eaters and will eat all available protein. A habit worth noting: fishing cats like to play with their food and have been observed throwing it back in the water to catch it.

Why do cats like to watch fish?

It’s likely that fishing cats and other felines enjoy watching fish swim by simply because the swimming motions are erratic and entertaining. The same thing happens when they watch the birds through the window. Keeping an eye out for these little critters is one way to pass a curious cat’s time. For some kittens, a move like this triggers their hunting instinct, so it’s wise to keep a tight lid on all aquariums.

Signs of Fish Allergies in Cats

Food is the third most common allergen in cats. VCA Hospitals states: “The allergy most often develops in response to the protein component of the food.” This definitely includes fish! A big indication that your cat is allergic to something in their food is itchy, inflamed skin. Watch for excessive scratches on the face, ears and stomach. Too much grooming or licking on the paws, legs, or armpits — which sometimes causes bald patches — can also indicate an allergy.

Of course, another way to detect a fish or food allergy is through vomit or gastrointestinal issues. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on what your cat is eating and what happens in their litter box afterward.

RELATED: The 11 Best Pet Fish to Start Your Freshwater Aquarium

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