Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Cats Eat Salmon? What You Need To Know!

salmon for cats

Salmon is a high-quality protein source for cats – so yes, cats can eat salmon. It is also high in omega fatty acids, which are essential for your cat’s skin and coat. It isn’t odd to find salmon listed as the main ingredient in cat food or even suggested by your vet due to the health benefits.

However, your cat thrives most off of a varied diet that contains many different meat sources. While salmon is a high-quality option, your cat cannot live eating salmon alone. Some cats may benefit from a salmon food more than others.divider-cat

Can Cats Eat Raw Salmon?

Credit: PakulinSergei, Shutterstock

While salmon is an excellent option for felines, cats should never be given raw fish. Fish is commonly contaminated with food-borne pathogens that can make your cat sick. While many cats may be able to fight off these pathogens, it just takes one infection for your cat to become seriously ill.

Furthermore, they can pass on the infection to other cats and people through their feces. Since you’re likely scooping out their litterbox, you’ll probably come into contact with the pathogen more likely than not.

There are also enzymes in raw fish that can destroy B vitamins, which your cat needs in their diet. The fish may very well block the vitamins your cat needs to thrive.

Can Cats Eat Canned Salmon?

Some canned salmon is okay for cats. However, many canned salmon brands contain added sodium to help preserve the fish. While this sodium is at low enough levels for most people, it is incredibly high for our much-smaller cats. Therefore, it is essential to read the label before purchasing any canned salmon. Or, you can skip on the canned salmon altogether.

Too much salty salmon can lead to hypernatremia, which affects a cat’s ability to regulate the water in their body. This can lead to seizures and permanent brain damage.

Can Cats Eat Smoked Salmon?

Smoked salmon is often cured with salt, which leads us back to the same problem we had with canned salmon. It is simply too high in sodium for our cats to handle. Too much smoked salmon can lead to far too much sodium in your cat’s bloodstream, which can cause serious problems.

For this reason, we don’t recommend smoked salmon for your feline.

Can Cats Eat Salmon Skin?

No, not necessarily. It isn’t that salmon skin is bad for them. There just aren’t any nutritional benefits for eating the skin. It can also be a choking hazard in some cases.

salmon skin-pixabay
Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay


Is Salmon Good for Cats?

Salmon can be beneficial for cats in the right amounts. You don’t want to give your feline too much salmon, as it doesn’t contain all the vitamins and minerals your cat needs. It can be a very nutritious part of their overall diet, though.

Salmon is very high in omega 3 fatty acids, which have a range of benefits. This type of fatty acid helps protect your feline from skin and coat problems. It may also support your cat’s immune system and brain health.

Salmon is also high in potassium, B vitamins, selenium, and niacin. Your cat needs all of these vitamins to thrive, and salmon contains plenty of them.

cat after eating food from a plate
Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

What About Mercury?

There is some controversy overfeeding your cat a food that contains mostly fish. After all, fish is relatively high in mercury. This wasn’t always the case, but it does seem that fish have slowly become more mercury-ridden since the industrial revolution. It is likely a matter of pollution – not simply the way fish have evolved.

If your cat eats fish, they will consume some of this mercury. The mercury content of fish is not all the same, though. All fish receive some mercury from their environment. However, predatory fish that eat other fish are usually more mercury-rich than fish lower on the food chain. This is because they are also getting mercury in their diet. Therefore, fish that eat plants are much lower in mercury than those that eat other fish. Salmon happens to be lower on the food chain. They also don’t spend their whole lifespan in the ocean, so they are quite low in mercury.

Other Possible Problems with Salmon

There are some other possible issues with salmon as well. Not all the proposed issues have scientific backing, though.

Some claim that the bones in salmon are high in phosphorus and magnesium, which can cause kidney problems. However, there likely isn’t enough to bother most cats. You only really need to worry if your cat has a history of kidney or urinary tract problems. We didn’t find any scientific evidence to link a primarily fish diet with urinary problems.

Some cats may be allergic to fish, just like they may be allergic to any other type of protein. However, this isn’t necessarily a reason to avoid fish. Cat allergies are rarely severe and usually take the form of skin irritation. If you notice these symptoms in your feline, you can switch their food to clear them up without much difficulty. You can’t avoid all risks of allergies when it comes to feeding your feline.

The most common food allergens for cats are beef, fish, and chicken.

Vitamin K synthesis may be a problem for felines that consume a diet of mostly fish. Studies have found that kittens and nursing cats may become deficient if fed a diet containing mostly fish. However, most diets contain added vitamin K. The study suggests that cats should be supplemented at least 60 μg of vitamin K in their cat food if it contains mainly fish. Many cat food companies do this today, so check the label before purchasing anything.

For some reason, a diet high in fish has been linked to hyperthyroidism in cats. Other flavors have as well, including liver and giblet.

Some cats prefer fish a little too much. They may refuse to eat anything else and demand only their favorite fish-flavored food instead. Generally, we do recommend switching out your cat’s food often, as felines typically do best when they are regularly given a wide variety of different foods. Switching out foods can be difficult if your cat refuses to eat anything that isn’t salmon.

You should always measure your cat’s food- not just allow free-feeding. This is especially true for salmon, as many felines may consume too much. It’s just that tasty. We generally recommend feeding your cat twice a day and keeping track of health to ensure they’re getting just the right amount of food.

salmon skinpixabay
Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay



Salmon is a high-quality protein option for cats in many circumstances. It includes high levels of omega fatty acids, which can help with everything from skin and coat health to brain development. Fish oil is often included in most cat foods for this reason. Omega fatty acids are just that important for cats.

With that said, salmon can cause a few problems. For instance, it isn’t suitable for cats with kidney disease as it may be a bit too high in potassium. Some cats are allergic to salmon and therefore shouldn’t consume it.

Cats have a tendency to like salmon a lot. This may be useful if you’re having a hard time encouraging your feline to eat. However, it can also cause your cat to eat a little too much, so we generally recommend carefully measuring out your cat’s food to avoid obesity.

Featured image credit: rjunqueira, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets