There is a lot of controversy surrounding the benefits of cats feeding on tuna. Some people believe that tuna is among the healthy fish species which help cats grow faster and healthier. However, there are those who believe that tuna can be dangerous due to high levels of mercury in the fish and should be kept to minimum in a cat’s diet. All About Cats did some research in hopes of shedding more light over this issue, and focus on both the good and bad aspects of including tuna in your cat’s diet.
Why is Tuna Good for Cats?
Can cats eat tuna everyday? Well, maybe not every day. However, Tuna just like many other types of fish is rich in many nutrients that may improve a cat’s health. Tuna can be incorporated as part of a balanced cat diet if given in proper portions. Some of the main advantages are:
- Proper Growth & Development: Tuna is rich in proteins and vital amino acids which help cats grow. These nutrients boost muscle and tissue growth, as well as promoting growth of other body organs.
- Boost Immune System: The high concentration of vitamin B12, C, 6, manganese and potassium improves the cat’s immunity, making it harder for disease, bacterial and pathogens to attack the cat.
- Eradicates Free Radicals: Tuna contains lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which help in getting rid of free radicals. The compounds also reduce blood pressure and remove toxins from the cat’s body.
- Improves Energy Levels: Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B complex and Thiamine increase energy levels and make the cat more energetic and lively.
- Enhances Blood Circulation and red blood cell proliferation: Tuna contains a good amount of Iron, niacin, riboflavin, potassium and other nutrients which improve red blood cell proliferation and function, as well as improve blood circulation.
The above are some of the benefits that come with consumption of tuna. However, veterinarians, animal nutritionists and other cat experts advise people to feed their cats tuna occasionally and not regularly. This is because it isn’t a complete or balanced diet by itself, and feeding too much of it will result in excess supply of particular nutrients such as thiaminase, unsaturated fats, mercury or proteins. How much tuna can a cat eat? Tuna should be given as a treat or snack, and not as a complete meal on a regular basis.
Why is Tuna Bad for Cats?
Some veterinarians believe that feeding cats tuna is bad and should be avoided at all costs. They claim that even though adverts, cartoons, animations and other media promote fresh tuna or canned foods containing tuna, feeding your cat with this type of fish comes with the following risks:
- Mercury Poisoning: Tuna, like many other types of fish, contain lots of mercury in their system which is easily passed to cats. Studies showed that cats fed with tuna didn’t really exhibit increased muscle growth, development and better health. However, the tuna-fed cats’ cognitive and mental abilities were negatively affected.
- Steatitis: Cats fed with tuna are more-likely to develop Steatitis, also known as the Yellow Fat disease. This occurs when the cat is deprived of Vitamin E, leading to the inflammation of the fatty cells and tissues in the body.
- Unsaturated Fats: Tuna contains high concentration of unsaturated fats that is quite unhealthy.
- Thiaminase: Too much tuna increases the production of Thiaminase which inhibits the production and distribution of essential Thiamine better known as vitamin B1. This can result in a cat’s immune system to weaken, and it becomes less-effective to defend the body against pathogen attacks and disease.
- Poor body control & seizures: This is caused by low volumes of vitamin B12, B6, and C. The condition becomes worse as the cat ages and the consumption of tuna increases.
Can a Kitten Eat Tuna?
Kittens have not been spared either in the debate on whether cats should eat tuna. Many people provide this diet to their kittens because of the high protein content, amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for proper growth and health. Tuna also contains iron, manganese, potassium, selenium, riboflavin, niacin and more, making it a nutritious food.
However, too much tuna puts the kitten at risk of contracting Steatitis, mercury poisoning, poor cognitive ability and seizures, among other diseases.
Experts recommend that tuna only be fed as a treat and not as a staple diet. Also, you should consider tuna juice and not tuna that is packed in oil. Furthermore, you need to avoid giving the kitten raw tuna. The debate on whether tuna for cats or kittens is good or bad is unlikely to end soon.