Can you give cats canned tuna?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you give cats canned tuna?”, and what kind of tuna can cats eat? 

Can you give cats canned tuna?

Yes, you can give cats canned tuna but only as a treat. We understand the appeal of tuna for cats because of the unique flavor and the pleasant fishy smell of canned tuna. But canned tuna is unreasonably high in calories. Therefore, it should only be fed scarcely to your cat.

Between canned and fresh tuna, fresh tuna is a healthier option for your cat. This is because canned tuna(in brine) contains high concentrations of sodium and phosphorus. If you do decide to feed tuna to your cat, opt for the canned tuna that does not contain any added fats, salts, or flavorings.

For a 9lb cat under 14 years of age, ½ ounce of tuna per week is recommended. This is equivalent to 1 tbsp of tuna per week. Only 10% of the daily caloric needs of your cat should come from supplemental treats like tuna.

On a positive note, tuna is a good source of protein, selenium, and some vitamins and minerals. It contains a decent level of moisture. So, you do not have to feel guilty about feeding tuna to your cat as a treat occasionally. 

How can tuna affect cat nutrition? 

The ideal diet of your diet should consist of a balanced amount of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Tuna itself is not nutritionally balanced as it is jam-packed with unsaturated fats and lacks the essential antioxidants and Vitamin E.

Your cat can become sick if given such nutritionally imbalanced foods on a daily basis. So, if your cat does not look well, consider a regular vet checkup to ensure everything is under control.

Not all cats can stomach tuna 

Some cats are allergic to fish and lead to itching, hair loss, red or swollen skin, and red bumps upon consumption. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, fish is one of the most common allergens for cats. 

If your cats show any of the aforementioned allergic symptoms or diarrhea, vomit, or loss of appetite, consult your veterinarian immediately. 

Tuna is high in mercury 

Mercury is a toxic metal for both humans and cats. Tuna, unfortunately, are commonly contaminated with mercury. The most common symptoms of mercury poisoning are dizziness and loss of coordination and balance. 

Among all the tuna varieties, albacore tuna is more likely to be contaminated with high concentrations of mercury. Therefore, pet parents should particularly beware of this type of tuna.

Why do cats eating tuna may gain weight? 

Indoor cats are not very physically active. Therefore, they require fewer calories for maintenance. Your cats can become obese if given more calories than their body demands. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends giving no more than 290 calories per day to a cat that weighs 11 pounds.

Humans are big species and require more calories to function. That is why human food contains a lot of calories. A few ounces of canned tuna in water is sufficient to fulfill more than a third of the daily caloric intake for many cats.

Therefore it is so important to watch out for the caloric intake of your pet cat. Just like humans, obesity in cats also increases the risk of diabetes, urinary disease, arthritis, and inflammation, and other health complications. 

What kind of tuna can cats eat?

Both canned and fresh tuna can be given to your cats occasionally. If you opt for canned tuna, always go with the canned tuna packed in water and not the one that is packed in oil, added salt, and other flavorings.

Since Albacore tuna is high in mercury, you should give Chunk-light tuna to your cat. Make sure that you cook the fresh tuna before treating your cat with it. This is because the fresh tuna may be contaminated with parasites and pathogenic bacteria that may harm your pet cat.

In addition to this, fresh fish is packed with an enzyme called thiaminase. This enzyme functions to break down the essential Vitamin B. When consumed regularly, this can lead to a condition called Thiamine deficiency in your cat. Cooking temperatures are enough to destroy parasites, bacteria, and thiaminase enzymes.

Safe ways to feed tuna to your cat 

Always consult your veterinarian before including certain food in your pet cat’s diet. If the vet gives the green signal, feed your cat with tuna sparingly like you would with any other treat. The ideal diet of your cat should consist of 90% quality, complete-and-balanced cat food and only 10% supplemental treats like tuna.

Other FAQs about Tuna that you may be interested in.

How many times a week can you eat tuna?

What is the difference between albacore and yellowfin tuna?

How much tuna is safe for cats?

Can you eat yellowfin tuna raw?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you give cats canned tuna?”, and what kind of tuna can cats eat?