Can Cats Eat Sardines? (Raw, Canned, Smoked, Pickled)

Sardines are small, oily, soft-boned salt-water fish that are super delicious and cats love them. They are highly nutritious to both humans and pets, but are they safe for cats to eat?

Can Cats Eat Sardines? Yes, your cat can eat sardines whether raw, canned, smoked, or pickled. Very well, but don’t stop there. The other vital question you need to ask yourself is whether this seafood is nutritionally fit for your cat or not. And also, what are the potential dangers of feeding your cat with it?

Can Cats Eat Sardines? (Raw, Canned, Smoked, Pickled)

Sardine can be good and sometimes harmful to your cat, especially if administered the wrong way. As such, you need to take some precautions if you decide to add it to your feline’s diet. Keep reading to find out the benefits and safety precautions to take when handling this delicious seafood.

Are Sardines Good for My Cat?

Most, if not all, cats love fish! And sardines are not an exception. However, sardines and other fish are not a natural part of a cat’s diet.

Giving your cat sardines from time to time is essential and highly recommended. These fish have tons of nutrients to support the optimal growth, development, and wellbeing of your cat.

Sardines are rich sources of:

  • Proteins
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B2, B3, and B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Choline
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous
  • Magnesium
  • Iodine
  • Copper
  • Selenium

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Sardines to Cats?

1.  According to research, the omega 3 fatty acids in sardines help promote kidney health. They avert the decline of kidney function at the onset of the disease.

2.  They are perfect for bone-building and strengthening

3.  Sardines help combat anxiety

4.  The vitamin B12 present in this fish helps promote your cat’s cardiovascular well-being

5.  They help fight inflammation, a leading cause of many diseases in cats

6.  Another study by the Cambridge University Press indicates that the fish oils in sardines help reduce brain aging and its effects in older cats.

7.  The omega 3s in sardines also help prevent cancer

From the above benefits, it is certain that giving your cat sardines could help extend their lifespan.

What are the Negative Effects of Giving My Cat Sardines?

Although sardines are perfectly safe and healthy for cats, you should never replace your cat’s normal diet for this fish.

Note: We are talking of sardines in human fish diets and not the ones included in commercial fish cat foods.

When giving your cat sardines, moderation is key. You can make it a snack or just add a small part in their food (except if you are giving them commercial food with this fish).

You should avoid feeding your cat too many sardines because:

1.  They have too many proteins which could lead to allergies

2.  A study by JSAP shows that cats fed on a large fish-based diet are likely to have vitamin K deficiency.

3.  Sardines are very oily and if consumed in excess they could cause obesity/ unnecessary weight gain.

Also, too much oil in a cat’s diet could cause diarrhea.

4.  They lack some vital nutrients that cats obtain from a well-balanced diet

5.  Sardines are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which may lead to depletion of vitamin E in your cat’s body.

6.  There is a possibility that your cat will get mercury poisoning. However, the risk of mercury poisoning with sardines is lower as compared to other seafood like tuna.

Mercury affects the cat’s internal organs. If a pregnant cat ingests it, it is likely to harm the development of the unborn kitten.

The above reasons justify why you should never give your cat sardines every day or make it a part of their main diet.

How Should I Give My Cat Sardines?

Often, sardines are sold raw (fresh or frozen) or canned (cooked or smoked). Many cat owners always wonder – which is the best way to administer sardines?

Raw or Cooked?

Sardines are highly perishable and the best way to preserve them when raw is by freezing. Freezing is great in killing parasites and keeping bacteria away, but it does not kill germs. Therefore, it is not recommendable to give your cat raw fish.

Also, raw fish has thiaminase, a component that degrades and deteriorates vitamin B1/ thiamine in your cat’s body. As a result, your feline may develop thiamine deficiency symptoms such as lethargy, drooling, and anorexia.

The cat may also develop some neurological symptoms like seizure, circling, incoordination, and dilated pupils.

Therefore, cooked sardines are the best to feed your cat. Before cooking, ensure that you remove all the scales and while serving, remove any bones and cut the fish into small pieces.

To ensure the safety and health of all your home-based cat foods, we recommend that you seek advice from a pet veterinarian or nutritionist.

Are Canned Sardines Good for My Cat?

Canned sardines come in oil, water, brine, or sauce. Most food processors use oils such as olive, sunflower, and soybean for canning.  

If you buy sardines canned in freshwater, you can safely feed your cat directly. However, sardines canned in salty water, sauce, or oil need washing to remove the excessive coating. A little bit of oil is not harmful and it helps improve the coat sheen of your cat.

We don’t recommend sardines canned in brine because they have high levels of salt. Nevertheless, if brine sardines are the only available option, you can wash them thoroughly to remove the excess salt.

When buying canned sardines, watch out for harmful ingredients such as onions and garlic.

How Much Sardines is Enough for My Cat?

It’s important to know how many sardines to feed your cat and how often.

If you opt for canned sardines, the recommended quantity is half of the can. For the frequency, once or twice a month is sufficient.

Keep in mind that a 3.75 ounce can contain up to 200 calories. As such, reduce other high-calorie foods for your cat when feeding it with sardines.

If you opt for pre-cooked sardines, one sardine a day is sufficient for your cat.

Note: Always exercise moderation when feeding sardines to your cat.

 Use sardines as a form of a treat for your cat but not as a staple component of the diet.

What are the Risks Associated With Intake of Sardines to My Cat?

Sardines, like any other fish, contain heavy metals such as mercury. They also contain fat-soluble pollutants from water pollution.

Ingesting high amounts of these metals can damage the central nervous system of your cat. Some of these metals also poison the fish, making it unsuitable for your cat.

Also, sardines can contain a bacterial infection called salmonella. This bacteria results in symptoms such as blood in the stool, nausea, and vomiting.

The salt content in sardines can also cause problems for your cat. Sardines have a high salt content, which can cause electrolyte disturbance in your feline friend.

What Kind of Sardines Can My Cats Eat?

Not all sardines are safe for your feline friend.

Sardines from your local supermarket comes in various forms. They are packed in different oils to enhance taste and for preservation.

Some of the oils used to park sardines include brine, olive oil, tomato sauce, soybeans, sunflower oil, chilly, and water.

Each of these oils has an impact on your cat. Let’s discuss each of them below.

Other Related Questions

Can cats eat sardines in sunflower oil?

Yes. Your feline friend can eat sardines in sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is not only non-toxic but can also help the coat of your cat to be shinier and more radiant.

However, sunflower oil also contains laxative properties which could cause vomiting and diarrhea. As such, avoid giving your cat too many sardines in sunflower oil.

Can cats eat sardines in soybean oil?

No. Soybean is among the unsafe foods for your cat. It can lead to effects such as thyroid damage and interference with the hormonal secretion processes.

Consequently, avoid giving your cat sardines in soy oil.

Can Cats Eat Sardines in tomato sauce?

No. Tomato’s spicy nature is not good for your cat’s digestive system. A cat’s digestive system is not developed enough to handle spicy foods.

Giving these kinds of sardines to your cat will only upset its gastrointestinal system.

Can Cats Eat sardines in olive oil?

Yes. Olive oil contains numerous skin-nourishing benefits to your feline friend. As such, it is a suitable addition to your cat’s diet.

Olive oil helps your cat’s coat to be more radiant. It is also an effective cure for hairballs.

However, do not forget to give this in moderation.

Can Cats Eat Sardines in Brine?

No. Brine is a high concentration of salt in water and is not safe for your cat. It may result in food poisoning.

Can Cats Eat Sardines in Water?

Yes. Sardine preserved in water is safe for your cats. They contain no additives or spices.

Can Cats Eat Smoked Sardines?

Avoid smoked sardines by all means! They are high-salted during the smoking process, and these high levels of sodium are not healthy for your cat.

Can My Kittens Have Sardines?

Give sardines to fully weaned kittens only. However, this should only be given as a treat or as a small portion of their diet.

Fully weaned kittens are always in need of much protein, among other nutrients, for development. As such, give only the required amounts of sardines.