Can Cats Eat Canned Chicken + How Often Should They Eat It

If you’re short on your cat’s usual complete and balanced foods, you may reach for the kitchen cupboard for alternatives. But hold off – that canned chicken comes with some advantages and disadvantages. So, can cats eat canned chicken? What makes it unsuitable as a long-term meal replacement? And why is it not suitable for cats with kidney disease? We answer all of these questions here.

Because canned chicken contains some potentially harmful ingredients, it’s important to read up on how to best serve it to your feline friend. Not only is it high in sodium, but it’s also high in fats too. Can cats have canned chicken? They can indeed, but with some quick and easy adjustments on your part. Ready to find out more? Read on with us today for how to serve your cat the best canned chicken meal!

Can Cats Have Canned Chicken?

Canned chicken breast is a great source of lean protein, vitamins B and D, calcium, iron, and zinc. These nutritional values support the body’s energy production, muscle growth, and immune system considerably. So what’s the catch? On the other hand, canned chicken is often highly processed to avoid bacterial growth. Meat processing and sterilization deter from its nutritional value and flavor. As well as this, many canned types of meat are high in sodium, as sodium acts as a preservative. By draining the liquid from the can and then rinsing the meat, you can reduce the sodium content by up to 40%. But what does this mean for your feline friend?

Generally speaking, canned chicken is safe for your cat to eat. However, it should only serve as an occasional treat or supplement to their complete and balanced diet. The sodium content of canned chicken is the main point of concern when canned chicken is fed to cats in excess. When fed canned chicken for several days, your cat may struggle with kidney problems due to its high sodium content. And, because of this, cats with pre-existing kidney issues should avoid canned chicken.

How Often Should Cats Eat Canned Chicken?

Because of its high sodium content, the canned chicken should only serve as an occasional treat or temporary meal until you can get your cat a complete and balanced diet. If you feed your cat canned chicken every day, you risk contributing to kidney problems as well as obesity. So, stick to only serving it as a treat every few days where possible. This is for your cat’s health and well-being. Canned chicken is not a suitable long-term meal for any cat as it does not provide all of the nutrients they need. So, no matter how much your feline friend begs for more, hold off on the extra portions!

On average, canned chicken (a 5oz can) provides the following nutritional value based on a human 2,000-calorie diet:

  • Total fat: 10g (15%)
  • Protein: 32g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.1g (0%)
  • Cholesterol: 63mg (21%)
  • Sodium: 603mg (25%)
  • Potassium: 191mg (5%)
  • Vitamin A: 4.4%
  • Vitamin C: 0%
  • Calcium: 1.3%
  • Iron: 9%

What Else Do Cats Need In Their Diet?

It is important to note that canned meats do not make for a complete diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, so they rely on nutrients that come from animal products. However, canned chicken alone does not provide all the nutrition they need. It does not provide enough carbohydrates or vitamins to keep them healthy and happy. Always be sure to provide your feline friend with a complete, high-quality diet. By doing so, you ensure that their body has the nutrients it needs for growth, maintenance, and coat condition. So, what do they really need to be in top form?

According to AAFCO, your cat needs a minimum of 26% crude protein in their diet on a dry matter basis. However, more protein is better – just not when it’s overdone. Similarly, AAFCO cat food must contain 9% fat on a dry matter basis. They also need 10% of their calories from carbohydrates. Lastly, cats need a wide range of vitamins in their food. These are vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, and choline. Taurine is also essential for your cat. As you can already see, canned chicken misses several of these essential nutrients.

Can Cats Eat Uncooked Canned Chicken?

Because canned chicken is already fully cooked, it’s perfectly safe to give it to your cat straight out of the can. However, it’s always best to drain the liquid and rinse the chicken well before serving it to your feline friend. You can cook canned chicken though, especially if you intend to incorporate it into a recipe for your cat. Do note that canned chicken is stored in water, so cooking it will make your cat’s dish more watery. If your cat struggles with diarrhea, this may not be the best option for them. You can, however, warm canned chicken in a sauté pan first to help remove the excess liquid.

Be sure to store the canned chicken as per the packaging instructions. When kept in suitable conditions, canned chicken has a shelf life of 3 to 5 years. Once opened, this drops to 5 to 7 days. Always keep opened canned chicken refrigerated and sealed where possible. This will help to prevent bacterial contamination of the meat. Your feline friend can suffer from food poisoning just as you can. If you believe your cat is struggling with food poisoning, be sure to check in with your vet as soon as possible!

Should I Rinse Canned Chicken Before Feeding It to My Cat?

It’s always best to rinse canned chicken before feeding it to your cat. This is because canned chicken contains a lot of sodium. Sodium, in excess, leads to a buildup in the bloodstream that the kidneys cannot extract. This is called hypernatremia, which can go on to cause high blood pressure and puts strain on the kidneys. When untreated, this kidney strain leads to reduced kidney function and then kidney disease. As such, it’s essential to avoid high doses of sodium in your feline friend’s diet. Fortunately, rinsing the meat and draining the water can reduce the amount of sodium in the chicken by up to 40%.

What Ingredients to Avoid in Canned Chicken?

There are several ingredients to be cautious of in canned chicken. Firstly, look out for “unhealthy” oils. Corn oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and can contribute to inflammation if given in excess. For optimal health, your cat should get a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The ideal ratio for your feline friend is 5:1 to 10:1 of omega-6 to omega-3s. So, while omega-6 fatty acids are indeed essential for your cat’s health, it’s important to find the ideal balance to keep them healthy.

Secondly, be wary of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. These ingredients can be harmful to your cat’s health – take BPA for example. According to the Center for Environmental Health, up to 40% of canned goods it has tested contained BPA, a chemical that is linked to health issues in humans and animals alike. According to studies, BPA is a possible cause of feline hyperthyroidism. And, unfortunately, canned foods appear to contain the highest concentrations of it.

Can Cats Eat Canned Chicken: FAQs

Still wondering if cats can eat canned chicken? Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more details. If in doubt about your cat’s diet, it’s always best to ask your local veterinary nutritionist for advice.

How long is canned chicken good for?

Canned chicken that is stored according to the package’s instructions will stay at the best quality for 3 to 5 years. It may, however, still remain safe after this time. Storage times are given for best quality – after this, the chicken’s texture and flavor may change. After opening, canned chicken is safe to use for 5 to 7 days. It must be stored in a refrigerator.

Can I give my cat canned chicken breast?

Canned chicken breast is totally safe for cats to eat in small amounts. Be sure to rinse it well before serving it to your cat though, as it has a high sodium content. And, because of its sodium content, it is best given as a treat every so often rather than every day. Cats can also eat other canned meats, but the same rules apply to each. Also, do note that canned meats do not constitute a complete and balanced diet for your cat.

What canned meat can cats eat?

Several canned types of meat are safe for cats, but only as an occasional treat. These include canned chicken, canned tuna, canned salmon, canned sardines, canned pork, and canned beef/steak. However, because most of these meats will be high in sodium, it’s important to rinse the meat well before serving it to your cat. And, when feeding them canned fish, be careful to check for bones. Bones pose a choking hazard for cats just as they do for humans.

Can I feed my cat canned chicken every day?

It is not advisable to feed your cat canned chicken every day. This is because canned chicken contains large amounts of sodium and may contribute to obesity. It is best given as a treat or temporary meal replacement in a pinch. Please note that canned meats do not constitute a complete diet for your cat. They do not provide all of the nutrition your cat needs to be healthy and happy.

Should I boil canned chicken before serving it to my cat?

Because canned chicken is already cooked, you do not need to boil it before serving it to your cat. However, you can add it to a recipe if you wish. Re-cooking the meat may change its flavor and texture a little, but it will not make it unsafe to eat. Some pet parents will mix canned chicken with their cats’ wet diet to add a little extra protein, which is also acceptable.

Cats can eat canned chicken in small amounts as a treat. But, because it contains a lot of sodium, it’s always best to rinse it well before serving. It is not a replacement for a complete and balanced diet.

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