Can Cats Eat Tilapia? (Hint: Yes, But Limited Amounts)

While eating tilapia, if you notice that your cat is showing interest in the fish, you might want to give a bite or two. But before that, do you know if the fish is safe for cats or not?

Yes, cats can eat tilapia but only in limited amounts. Tilapia is inexpensive and flavorful with plenty of nutrients such as vitamins, proteins, minerals, and more. It is a lean fish with low amounts of fat and is an excellent source of protein. But tilapia has less content of omega-3 fatty acids than other alternatives.

Due to this, cat owners assume that it is safe for cats to feed tilapia. Before feeding tilapia to your pet, there is some crucial information you need to be aware of.

What Is Tilapia? Is It Healthy For Cats? 

Can Cats Eat Tilapia? (Hint: Yes, But Limited Amounts)

Tilapia is one of the famous fish in the US. It took the fourth slot on the list of most consumed fishes back in 2016. Growing and farming tilapia is easy and quick. Besides that, it is affordable than other nutrient-rich fish. Tilapia does not produce any strong fishy smell or flavor.

As for the nutrition side, tilapia is a fantastic source of protein and contains low levels of fat content. Tilapia has small amounts of sodium, and it is healthy for cats. Remember, excessive levels of salt are toxic for cats and cause severe health risks.

Plus, tilapia does not have fatal nitrates, which cause cancer. However, one aspect which makes tilapia a bit unsafe is that it has a high ratio of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3.

Many types of fish, such as salmon, sardines, trout, and albacore tuna, have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. To be precise, in every 100-grams of salmon, there is 2,500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are safe fats and decrease inflammation. Besides that, they help in reducing the risks of heart disease.

Coming to tilapia fish, it has only 240 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in every serving. The tilapia fish has more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. Compared to omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6s are less healthy. Consuming excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids might be dangerous and causes inflammation.

Can Cats Eat Tilapia Fish? 

Yes, cats can eat tilapia but only in moderation. Like other fish, tilapia also have some great nutritional value. Tilapia does not have any sharp fishy smell, and because of this, cats show incredible interest in them.

One crucial aspect of tilapia is it has low amounts of mercury. Fish with high mercury levels are dangerous to the health of your cat. You should NEVER replace regular cat food with tilapia because cats need balanced nutrition to survive. The primary part of your cat’s diet is filled with protein from different kinds of meat.

As per nutrients, tilapia is an excellent source to get plenty of essential nutrition. Some commercial food such as Tiki Cat Luau Grain-Free, Low-Carbohydrate Wet Food Tilapia is a fantastic option for offering a well-balanced diet. Plus, they contain tuna mackerel, salmon, salmon chicken, and tuna chicken.

There are a few cats that show allergic reactions to fish. If your cat is one of them, never feed tilapia to the cat because it can lead to many health risks. Remember, though your cat enjoys tilapia, it is neither their typical diet nor gives complete nutrition.

Nutritional Value Of Tilapia 

Tilapia is one of the best sources of protein. Besides that, this fish has plenty of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for cats. Tilapia has enough amounts of vitamin B12, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and niacin.

Below is the list of nutrients in a 3.5-ounce serving of tilapia:  

  • Protein – 26 grams
  • Calories – 128
  • Fats – 3 grams
  • Vitamin B12 – 31% of the RDI
  • Selenium – 78% of the RDI
  • Niacin – 24% of the RDI
  • Potassium – 20% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus – 20% of the RDI
  • Carbs – 0 grams

How To Feed Tilapia To The Cats? 

Cooked 

It is better to feed the cooked tilapia to your cat. You can also give grilled, pan-cooked, and boiled tilapia to the feline. But make sure not to use other ingredients, flavors, or seasonings while cooking the tilapia.

NEVER feed the fish to your cat that has onion or garlic because it is dangerous. Also, avoid giving smoked, canned, and salted tilapia to the cats. After cooking the fish, take your time to remove the bones before feeding it to your pet.

Raw 

The raw tilapia might carry deadly parasites or germs. Due to this, you should not feed raw fish to your cat. Freezing the tilapia below -20 degrees Celsius for seven days can only kill parasites but not bacteria and germs.

Besides that, raw fish has connections with fish oil. It contains the thiaminase compound, which destroys vitamin B1 (thiamine) in the cat’s body. Thiamine is crucial for metabolism, and lack of vitamin B leads to cats suffering from severe health risks. It might cause fatigue, weight loss, nervous system, and heart diseases in cats. Because of all these reasons, it is better to give cooked tilapia than raw fish.

How Often And How Much Tilapia Can A Cat Eat? 

In general, it is better to feed small pieces of tilapia to your cat. Though cats have the potential to consume the whole fish, it is dangerous for their health. You have to make sure to give only one or two bites of tilapia.

Before giving the tilapia to your cat, you should remove all the bones from the fish. These tiny fish bones are a threat to the lives of the cats. Cats do not know how to restrain themselves from eating bones. Due to this, cats tend to eat these small bones, and it is harmful to the throat and digestive system of the cats.

So, in summary, it is better to feed up to two small pieces of tilapia to cats once or twice a week. This routine is enough to provide them a little different diet with new nutrients.  

Benefits Of Eating Tilapia To Cats 

Tilapia has enough omega-3 fatty acids to improve the vision, joints, and heart health of cats. These Omega-3s gives support to the cell membranes. Besides that, it has a crucial role in fighting germs.

The Omega-6 fatty acids help in maintaining cholesterol levels. They also support the muscle cells to react to insulin, which is a hormone that breaks down sugar into energy.  

Tilapia has essential amounts of protein and helps in the digestion of food. It also balances the hormones, heals any injured tissue, and assists in supplying oxygen throughout the body. Many tilapia are farm-raised fish, and because of that, they have fewer levels of mercury.

In every serving, tilapia has around 12 milligrams of calcium. It is a crucial mineral that makes the bones stronger and deals with blood clots. Calcium handles the muscle contractions. Tilapia contains around 47 micrograms of selenium, and it boosts the reproductive and immune systems.

Potential Risks Of Feeding Tilapia To Cats 

Eating high omega-6 fatty acids increases the chance of asthma, arthritis, and many inflammatory diseases. The primary danger of tilapia is its farming practices, particularly in China. Reports reveal that the farmed tilapia in China are fed animals feces.

Though it cuts down the production expenses, it is very harmful. The bacteria such as Salmonella from animal feces can pollute the water and has a high chance of foodborne illnesses. Besides that, China exports 73% of farmed tilapia to the United States.

Some tilapia contain toxic chemicals such as dioxins. It happens if the tilapia is farmed in polluted areas and fed contaminated animal feed. Because of this, it is better to check the details of where the tilapia comes from before buying it.

A few tilapia might have dibutylin, which is another harmful chemical. It can result in inflammation and sometimes harm the immune system. This compound might raise the chance of asthma, fish allergies, metabolic disorders, and obesity. 

Healthy Fish Alternatives To Tilapia 

It is better to feed cooked fish to your cat twice or thrice a day and only in small amounts. Cats can eat a wide range of freshwater and saltwater fishes. Offering fish that is free from thiaminase is healthy for cats.

Tilapia is a lean fish but has less omega-3 fatty acids than others. Some other fish with enough omega-3 levels are salmon, sardines, red snapper, cod, mackerel, herring, and trout. Here is a list of the other best fish that have low mercury levels and are safe for cats:

  • Cod
  • Sole
  • Hake
  • Perch
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Black sea bass
  • Freshwater trout
  • Cisco/lake herring

Bottom Line 

Cats can eat tilapia, but make sure to feed only small amounts once or twice a week. They can get essential nutrients, such as vitamins, proteins, selenium, and more.

Though there were few potential dangers of farming practices, tilapia is safe and healthy for cats. Make sure to get fish only from clean and unpolluted water sources because dirty waters can contaminate the fish.  

Tilapia is available at a cheaper rate and offers plenty of nutrition. It is safe and healthy for cats as long as they do not eat more than they should.

References

  • Madelyn Kearns. (2017). NFI’s new top 10 list of America’s favorite seafood species points to upward consumption trend 
  • Trevor A Mori. (2004). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation 
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2017). GLOBEFISH – Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade 
  • Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Advice about Eating Fish