Salmon contains numerous vitamins, omega 3 acids, proteins, and minerals, which is why it’s considered really healthy for human consumption. This tasty and nutritious brain food is also recommended to people battling depression, stress, and those who are diabetic. But does all this nutritional value apply to our feline friends? Well, cats seem to like all kinds of fish. The smell of salmon alone is enough to drive your cat into a frenzy of excitement. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should feed salmon to your cat. First, because your cat might become addicted to the point it won’t eat anything else, which, in turn, causes undernourishment. Also, it can become harmful in the long-run.
Can cats have smoked salmon? Technically yes, as they love the smell. However, it may not be the healthiest food for your cat. That’s because it’s prepared with a lot of salt, with every 100 grams of smoked salmon containing 700-800 mg of salt. This makes it rather inedible; not to mention excessive salt/sodium can also lead to sodium ion poisoning in your cat.
Cats are most likely to dig in when offered smoked salmon. And, while it’s true that eating salmon can benefit cats nutritionally, it may not be the safest option for them. There are actually a few problems with smoked salmon, which is why it’s best not to feed it to your cat. If you choose to do so, you ought to be careful with the quantity. The good news is salmon is one of the most frequently used ingredients in cat foods. You can advantage of these treats so your cat can get the nutrients found in salmon without the risks associated with smoked salmon. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this topic, so you can make an informed decision about adding smoked salmon into your cat’s diet:
Can Cats Eat Smoked Salmon
Although cats may enjoy smoked salmon, it has undesirable risks for felines and should be limited or eliminated completely from their diet. Here are some of the potential problems associated with feeding smoked salmon to cats:
Salmon is generally cured with salt and even rubbed with herbs and spices before smoking. It contains excessive amounts of sodium, usually between 700-800 mg of sodium per 100 grams of smoked salmon, which is way too much for your cat’s kidneys to handle. Excessive consumption of sodium can lead to hypernatremia in cats. If left untreated, this health condition can put your cat in a coma or even cause death. Cats need a lot less salt than humans do and can easily get sodium ion poisoning from consuming smoked salmon. Take sodium poisoning serious as it can result in signs of diarrhoea, dehydration, vomiting, lethargy, depression, elevated body temperature, excessive thirst/urination, disorientation, and decreased appetite. In severe cases, it can cause seizures, permanent organ damage, tremors, coma, or even death.
Cats usually become dehydrated faster than humans. Unlike humans, they dislike drinking from a dish or cat bowl. Most of them prefer fresh, moving water from the faucet or a cat water fountain. Cats derive most of the water they need from their prey. Therefore, the best way to up your cat’s water intake is by feeding him/her wet foods. Unfortunately, smoked salmon lacks moisture content. As mentioned earlier, salmon is cured in a brine solution before it’s smoked. The curing process can take up to 8 hours, which is enough time to remove the natural moisture from the salmon. More moisture is removed during the smoking process.
Being an oily fish, smoked salmon is relatively high in fat. Feeding cats smoked salmon that’s high in fats and sodium can lead to obesity –an accumulation of excess body fat. Obesity negatively affects a cat’s health and longevity. Your cat will develop an increased risk of life-threatening issues such as urinary bladder stones, osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, many types of cancer, and so on.
Taurine is one of the essential amino acids in felines. They need it to maintain the proper functioning of the immune system, digestive tract, visual system, and heart muscle. Taurine also ensures normal fetal development and healthy pregnancy in felines. Salmon contains a small amount of taurine, which is mostly destroyed during the smoking process. Feeding your cat with smoked salmon regularly can lead to taurine deficiency, which, in turn, results in severe health issues such as blindness, the decay of the teeth, digestive problems, heart failure, etc. A lack of taurine can be fatal to cats. If you have to serve smoked salmon to your cat, don’t make it their primary food, rather an occasional treat.
Read Also: Do Cats Get Cold Indoors?
Other Potential Risks of Feeding Smoked Salmon to Your Cat
Seeing that smoked salmon is a preparation of the salmon fish, it only makes sense that I cover other potential risks you cat faces by consuming salmon in general. This includes:
Histamines, toxins, and heavy metals
Like most fish, salmons contain a lot of histamines. These compounds are released by white blood cells to prevent inflammation, but they can potentially cause an allergic reaction to occur. Keep in mind that cats react differently to histamines. Secondly, salmons swim in polluted water bodies and pick up serious toxins on the way. When your cat consumes salmon, these toxins build up to cause serious health problems. Lastly, as a predatory fish at the top of the food chain, salmon may contain very high levels of heavy metals. Cats have tiny livers and kidneys, which accumulate these metals faster than humans and cause neurological effects.
Some of the salmon sold for consumption comes from farms. Farmed salmon is highly contaminated with harmful chemicals and is dangerous for cats’ health.
Salmon also contains high contents of phosphorus, which can be taxing on the cat’s kidneys. Considering cat’s kidneys are already susceptible to chronic failure due to their high-protein diets, it’s best to reduce or eliminate salmon from their diet.
Cats particularly take pleasure in smoked salmon. But it contains bones that can pose a choking hazard to your cat, not to mention the risk of intestinal obstruction. Both of these situations could be life-threatening for your feline friend, so be sure to remove all bones before feeding salmon to your cat.
Salmon Allergy in Cats
Cats never used to eat fish in the wild. This explains why it’s fairly common for cats to be allergic to this fish and other kinds of seafood. Salmon allergy occurs when the cat’s immune system reacts with the protein found in salmon. The feline body can detect a different source of protein, which is different from its usual source. The body regards it as a foreign substance, triggering the immune system to fight it off.
The common symptoms for salmon allergy include vomiting, difficulty breathing, coughing, excessive itching, diarrhoea, or sneezing. Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat are occasionally prevalent. If you notice any of these after feeding salmon to your cat, visit the vet to see what their opinion is. Never ignore any allergic reactions you see in your cat; it’s better to deal with them as soon as possible to prevent any possible accidents.
Since you cannot determine whether your cat is allergic to salmon or not, introduce the fish gradually as you observe your cat’s reaction. If it doesn’t show any adverse signs, then you may consider serving it as an occasional treat. Be sure to monitor your cat’s reaction every time he/she eats salmon as allergic reactions may not manifest immediately, rather over time. When symptoms occur, seek immediate veterinary treatment because it can turn into a life-threatening situation. If the vet determines that your cat is allergic to salmon, you should keep salmon, as well as commercial cat foods containing any seafood off its plate.
Conclusion: Should I Feed Smoked Salmon to My Cat
Eating salmon can benefit cats nutritionally. It’s rich in proteins, which your cat requires for energy and for obtaining certain amino acids to help build a block of muscles and fuel bodily processes. It’s also an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which help your cat’s immune system to function optimally. They also need omega 3 fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory properties, as well as to increase the response to insulin (benefits diabetic cats), prevent obesity, strengthen your cat’s fur to prevent excessive shedding, and much more. Salmon also contains vitamin B-6, B-12, and D, which are also very healthy nutrients for your cat.
With all these nutritional benefits, it’s only natural to assume smoked salmon is healthy food for your cat. But from what we’ve uncovered, it’s evident that there are a few issues with smoked salmon. First off, it won’t give your cat all the nutrients it needs like taurine.
The other biggest issue with smoked salmon is the presence of excessive salt. But if you want your cat to get all the nutritional benefits it offers, then perhaps you should rinse it thoroughly to remove any extra salts and spices. The only problem with this solution is some important nutrients may be washed off in the process. A safer bet would be to make smoked salmon at home. You don’t have to brine salmon or rub spices before smoking. I guess you can just toss it in the smoker, although brining is what usually gives it more flavour.
Once you’ve prepared smoked salmon that safe for cat consumption, remember to remove all bones before serving it to your cat. Despite being a healthy meal, smoked salmon should not be the basis of your cat’s diet. Your cat can become addicted and refuse to eat other nutritious foods, or become obese. These two problems can be solved by serving smoked salmon as an occasional treat.
That being said, smoked salmon is not necessary for your cat’s diet. It’s not the only means by which your cat can get the nutrients I mentioned earlier. After all, cooked meat, raw meat, and meat by-products are all your cat needs to get all the vital and essential amount of nutrients. If you are going to feed your cat smoked salmon, make sure you go the safest route. Do not put your cat in danger!
Article by Barbara Read
Barbara Read is the heart and soul behind CatBeep.com. From her early love for cats to her current trio of feline companions, Barbara's experiences shape her site's tales and tips. While not a vet, her work with shelters offers a unique perspective on cat care and adoption.