Cats are obligate carnivores – needing real meat in their diet. But can we feed them just meat alone?
Many cats are big fans of canned tuna, chicken – even the mysterious potted meat. People often ask us if it’s OK to feed their cat these canned foods instead of regular cat canned foods. Canned tuna and chicken is made for human consumption, so it’s got to be ‘healthier’ for cats, right?
Likewise, because cats are true carnivores, can’t we just feed human-grade raw meat to cats for their daily meals?
The answer to both questions is a hard no. We cannot feed meat alone – long-term.
Why We Can’t Feed Cats Just Meat
Cat require more than just meat in their diet. The meat they would eat in the wild isn’t a chicken breast or tuna filet. Cats would eat the whole animal. Organs, bone, feathers, the animal’s stomach contents – in addition to the meaty parts. This wholeness to their diet in the wild provides the essential nutrients cats need to be healthy. Proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins. Feeding only meat long-term will result in dangerous nutritional deficiencies.
Can cats safely have canned tuna, chicken, or raw meat from the market? Yes. But only in moderation – not as meal replacements. Further, it’s important to note that canned tuna and other fish also contain some dangerous contaminants. It’s our opinion that all primarily fish foods should be fed in moderation for this and other reasons. If your kitty is a fish addict, consider treating your cat with smaller fish – like sardines (in water) or freshwater minnows.
We know some cats can’t imagine life without tuna. We have one of those cats. We also know that tuna is a big fish that can cause big problems. For this reason, we hold tuna as a very rare, high value treat. And when it’s time for this special treat, our Jack cat gets a few flakes of tuna (only in water, never oil). Not the whole can. Even if he’s being super cute and polite. All good things in moderation.