Why Do Cats Like Fish? Everything You Need To Know

Most cats seem to love fish and it is something we often see depicted in films, books and cartoons but why do cats like fish so much?

We all know cats hate water so there is little chance of them going out and catching their own fish meaning it is unlikely to be part of their natural diet.

There’s a common story that cats love fish because Ancient Egyptians used to lure cats into their homes using fish but in reality, the love of fish is simply because cats are opportunistic feeders.

cat looking at fish on plate

Fish are a great source of protein, are nutritious and they have a strong smell making it more appealing.

However, there are some important things to know if you are going to feed fish to your cat. 

Not Ancestoral 

As cats don’t fish themselves their love of fish has not come from their ancestors.

Domestic cats hunt birds and small mammals and the majority of cats hate water.

Due to this, fish does not seem to be a natural fit in their diet, yet they love them. 

Opportunistic Feeders

Cats take advantage of the situation they are in and when they are offered food, they will take it. As cats have been around humans for thousands of years they will have been eating scraps of fish throughout that time too.

Eating fish from humans is an easy food source that allows cats to save energy by not going hunting.

Fish are often loved by cats but should only be given to them in moderation. 

What Makes Fish Appealing? 

The strong smell of fish may also play a role in attracting cats.

Cats need protein, oil and fat in their diet, fish is a good source of these nutrients.

why do cats like fish

Cats are obligate carnivores so they need to eat primarily meat, fish falls under this category and offers a good source of taurine as well as amino acids.

However, it is important to know that fish does lack certain vitamins and minerals and it contains high levels of toxins such as mercury. This is why it is important to only offer your cat small amounts of fish. 

What Type of Fish Can I Feed My Cat? 

Tuna and salmon are often popular choices, these fish are a good source of Omega-3 but they are high levels of mercury. Smaller fish such as halibut, cod and flounder are a better option.

If you offer your cat tinned fish, make sure the fish has not been stored in oil. 

It is advised that you avoid feeding your cat raw fish as there can be health issues when feeding raw fish and there is also an increased risk of parasites.

cat looking at goldfish in bowl

Do not offer your cat fried or smoked fish or fish that has been cooked using oil or additives. You should also never feed them fish-products such as breaded fish or fish fingers.

When it comes to feeding your cat fish, keep it simple. Boil or grill the fish or offer tinned fish that is preserved in water rather than oil. 

Moderation is Key 

While cats may love fish, it is a food that should only be offered in small portions and as a special treat. It is recommended that you do not offer your cat fish more than a couple of times a week. 

Cats can be very demanding and can even crave fish but make sure you don’t allow them to overindulge. If your cat eats too much fish it can lead to a thiamine deficiency which can damage their nervous system.

Too much fish consumption can also increase the risk of your cat developing a urinary tract infection or hyperthyroidism. 

Signs of a Fish Allergy 

Some cats are allergic to fish, if your cat is allergic you will often see skin and digestive issues occur. The following symptoms are often associated with food allergies:

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Skin inflammation 
  • Hair loss 
  • Scratching 
  • Sneezing and coughing 
  • Wheezing 

If you think your cat may be having an allergic reaction it is important to contact a vet immediately.

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If you notice this kind of reaction to fish, all fish needs to be removed from your cat’s diet to keep them in good health. 

Feeding Cats Fish 

Feeding your cat fish certainly has its advantages but it is important not to go overboard with the amount you offer and how often you offer it.

The high protein levels, strong smell and easy meal option all likely contribute to your cat’s love of fish. It’s a popular treat but make sure your cat is not allergic.

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