Why Do Cats Like Fish? (The Fact May Surprise You)

We all know that our cats love fish but did you ever wonder why? Definitely, the fish has a good taste; otherwise, the cat will not eat it. But still, it must be something else behind that simple answer, which we will try to answer here.

Reasons Why Do Cats Like Fish

As you may know, cats have a hunter instinct to reptiles, birds, rats, mice, etc, has been always part of their menu, always talking about wild cats, leaving aside the fish (in case they have to fish it themselves). So if they usually do not fish, why fish can be part of their diet?

To know the answer, we have to go 10, 000 years back when the man started domesticating cats for their own profit: to hunt rats in their homes. Nowadays, the actual cat has adapted to its life at home –including its feeding- but without losing its hunting nature.

Do not forget that the cat is a carnivore and in this concept, not only beef, pork or chicken are included, but also fish. Meat is the main source of protein of optimum quality and is the basis of the diet of felines (before carbohydrates or fats).

In addition, fish is one of the foods with the most intense and recognizable smell. If it smells to you (even if it is very fresh), imagine what your cat can perceive with its very fine nose. They detect the proximity of a good piece of fish as if they had radar.

Some theories suggest, surely with good reason, that the instinct of cats has a lot to do with this predilection. In its origins and in the wild, it was (and is) common to see them hunt fish, with infinite patience, on the banks of rivers and even on those of the seas.

Finally, we must not forget that fish is food with extraordinary properties that especially benefit the organism of these animals. They probably don’t know “scientifically” but their instincts work wonders.

Fish is rich in protein and healthy essential oils, such as omega 3 and 6, which contribute to the cardiovascular health of the cat. In addition, it is also a source of taurine, an amino acid that the feline’s body is not capable of producing and that is essential for its neurological development, for the proper functioning of its immune system, and keeping its magnificent sense of sight in perfect condition. They are probably unaware of all this, but the cat’s intuition is never wrong. We will see its benefits more in detail later.

Fish in Cat Food History

We are used to the idea that the cat will eat what it can find in nature thanks to its wonderful hunting skills. Therefore, it will not be difficult for us to imagine that the cat could sometimes even fish.

It is obvious that even from a feeding point of view, feline habits also changed depending on what humans gave them after their domestication. In short, if its human had gotten fish or milk for himself and his family, then it was for sure that the same food would have been given to their house cat as well.

From the testimonies of the historian Diodorus Siculus, it seems that in Egypt, cats ate raw fish as early as the 1st century BC, from weaning: therefore, catching fish by swimming in the Nile was an irresistible activity for cats. But also in Turkey, in the areas around Lake Van, it seems that the local feline breed (the Turkish Van) was specialized in fishing.

Benefits of Fish in Cats

In addition to the taste, there are also proven benefits that a serving of fish provides to the feline body: Omega 3 in fact contains it improves the appearance of the hair; it is useful for the visual, renal, and cerebral apparatus of the cat. This does not mean that red and white meats should be eliminated from your diet, but that it is possible to alternate them.

Fish contains proteins, very useful in the cat’s diet, so much that it is often included as an alternative to kibble for dogs. In addition to protein, fish is also low in fat, making it especially suitable for obese felines and very easy to digest – think that a 100-gram serving of fish contains about 120 calories!

In addition to protein and being low in fat, as mentioned at the beginning, the fish also contains taurine, an essential amino acid for the well-being of our favorite feline. What is taurine used for? It helps the proper functioning of the digestive, visual and cardiac systems. Although it is fundamental in the body of cats, cats do not produce it independently or naturally and therefore need to obtain it from the food that they are given.

The Risks of Eating Fish in Cats

Although it will not be difficult to give this type of food to our cats because they have a sweet tooth, we have to clarify the risks associated with it. First of all, a diet based solely on fish is very harmful because shellfish contain mercury which, if eaten in large quantities, can also lead to serious poisoning.

It is good to avoid feeding the cat raw fish: it could contain a harmful element, the parasite Anisakis, in its intestine. It is better to always cook the fish and preferably boil it.

On the other hand, you should take into account that some fish does not permit the correct absorption of the B complex vitamin and at the same time, some fish provide vitamin K, a great ally to avoid blood clotting in veins.

And then there are types of fish that are best-paid attention to and not provided to the cat excessively:

  • Herring: they contain enzymes that destroy the thiamine that the cat needs, in addition to having many spines and bones.
  • Shrimp: Cats like them very much but, being alkalizing foods, they can inflame the cat’s urinary tract.
  • Tuna: best avoided due to the amount of mercury it could ingest. If we really can’t give it anything else, let’s at least choose natural tuna.
  • Mackerel, mullet: pay attention to thorns but also additive residues. If you really want to give it to your cat, be sure to rinse it well with water and cook it – the same goes for squid.

Do we want to include fish in the cat’s diet (without obviously never giving up meat)? All right, choose the best one for him. Whitefish, such as sole or cod, are usually preferred. They are low-fat and low-calorie fish. In any case, they do not contain calcium, so they can be included in the cat’s diet but without exaggeration. It could be appreciated especially in summer, perhaps combined with some vegetables, obviously to choose between fruits and vegetables for the cat.

So, after knowing all this, feel free to provide fish to your cat but it should not be its primary food. Also, thyroid problems can appear after eating a lot of fish as nutrition deficiencies so the cat must eat it with precaution.

What Fish Are Not Good For The Cat?

If you ask a veterinarian doctor, he or she will say that any fish will be good but as mentioned before, it should not be the primary food. In addition, your cat should avoid:

  • Fish with salt included the smoked ones. It’s better not to add salt.
  • Fish in cans. It’s better to rinse it and avoid giving it directly from the can.
  • Fish with spices or marinated.

How to Give Fish to a Cat?

Veterinarians advise against giving your cat raw fish due to the transmission of parasites, however, you can give it a few small servings of raw fish per week. Raw fish must be fresh, that is, it must be caught at the moment, you can find it in the market, then you must place it in the freezer so that the low temperature can kill any internal parasite that the fish may have.

When the cat eats raw fish, it will take more advantage of the nutrients such as proteins but you should not give it daily, just give it as a treat since it can also prevent the absorption of vitamin B1. If you cannot get the fresh fish, after being frozen, you can cook it but you should not cook it too much because it will also lose nutrients. Just cook it at a medium finish and without adding salt or any other ingredient, it is best to boil it a little.

The recommended dose is to offer fish as a ‘reward’ sporadically, at most once a week, although the idea is to do it less frequently and in quantity.

The best way to take care of your cat is to eat cat food that you get in pet stores since they are prepared with fish. These products, whether they are high-end or veterinary lines, are suitable for our kittens on daily basis.

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