Cats are often depicted as fish-loving felines. However, not all fish are safe for cats to eat, and it’s important to know which species and varieties aren’t harmful to cats. When it comes to sardines, cat owners must be selective of the kinds of sardines they feed their cats. In general, fresh sardines and sardines canned in water are safe for cats to eat. It’s best to avoid sardines stored with oil, brine, or tomato sauce.
Nutritional Benefits of Sardines
Sardines are small fish belonging to the herring family, and they’re known for their soft and oily meat. Most cats enjoy the taste of sardines, and there are some nutritional benefits to feeding sardines to your cat. First, sardines are an excellent source of protein, which is great for a cat’s carnivorous diet. They’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve and support skin and coat health, cognitive functioning, and kidney health. Omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe some pain in arthritic joints.
In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and vitamin D. Due to their small size, sardines also tend to have low mercury levels, making them low-risk fish for cats to eat.
How to Safely Feed Sardines to Your Cat
While sardines alone can’t meet a cat’s daily nutritional requirements, they’re certainly a tasty snack they can enjoy. However, if your cat has any specific health issues or is on a special diet, make sure to consult your veterinarian before you start feeding your cat some sardines.
One of the best ways to feed your cat sardines is to purchase them fresh and cook them thoroughly. According to the FDA, fish cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145°F is safe to eat. The fish can be left out at room temperature for up to 2 hours before becoming at risk of bacterial contamination. It’s not recommended to feed cats raw or partially cooked sardines due to the risk of food poisoning.
Cats can also safely enjoy canned sardines as long as the sardines are packed in water. Sardines packed in oil can be too fatty for cats, and the oil also often contains herbs and spices that can be harmful to cats. Sardines packed with brine are also not recommended because of their high salt content.
In some cases, sardines are packed in tomato sauce. This form of sardines should also be avoided because the tomato sauce often contains added sugar, and some may include artificial colors and flavors. While it’s unlikely that your cat will get sick from having a bite of this form of canned sardines, it’s still not beneficial for their health. Prolonged feeding may also lead to certain health complications, including digestive issues and excessive weight gain.
When feeding your cat any form of sardines, make sure to check the fish for bones and remove any that you see. The bones can be a choking hazard and can also irritate the throat if swallowed improperly. Fortunately sardine bones are quite small and less of a choking hazard than other types of bones.
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Overall, fresh sardines that have been cooked thoroughly and sardines canned in water are safe snacks that most cats can enjoy every once in a while. While it’s not recommended to feed sardines to your cat regularly, your cat can experience some nutritional benefits from eating sardines. Just keep in mind that if your cat’s on a special diet or has a specific health condition, it’s best to get clearance from your veterinarian before feeding sardines to your cat.
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