Can Cats Eat Canned Tuna? Benefits & Potential Health Concerns

Can Cats Eat Canned Tuna

As the owner of three cats, I have believed that my picky eater furry friends know what is the best food for them.

However, it is not always so. Cats will avoid meat that is not fresh but doesn’t seem to have the same criteria for canned tuna.

I don’t have a clue why! So, let’s see if cats can eat canned tuna and stay healthy without gaining addiction.

The Benefits of Tuna for Cats

Cats require a balanced diet full of essential amino acids from dietary proteins, beneficial fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Cats’ daily needs for essential proteins and fats


12.5 g

5.5 g

If you give tuna to your cat in moderation, it is actually a healthy treat containing omega-3 essential fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These substances are highly beneficial since they:

  • Promote overall growth and development
  • Maintain blood pressure
  • Boost eyesight
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Reduce free radicals in the blood
  • Improve immunity
  • Give the cat energy
  • Contribute to the overall health of the cat’s skin and coat
  • Help to heal arthritis
  • Keep the cat well-hydrated
  • Promote weight loss

Cats’ daily needs for essential vitamins

Vitamin A

63 µg
Vitamin D

0.4 µg

Vitamin E

2.5 µg
Vitamin B1

0.33 µg

Vitamin B2

0.27 mg
Vitamin B3

2.5 mg

Vitamin B5

0.4 mg

Vitamin B6

0.16 mg

Vitamin B9

47 µg
Vitamin B12

1.4 µg

Vitamin K

 82 µg

Can Kittens Eat Tuna?

Eating tuna from time to time can be beneficial for kittens. However, always keep in mind that young cats still grow. So, you need to provide a particular dietary for them, which is full of ingredients tuna itself can’t offer.

Specially formulated kitten food provides essential nutrition, and tuna can bring more risks than benefits to your new pet. In fact, the possibility of the occurrence of steatitis, seizures, and mercury poisoning is too high that it is not worth the risk.

Cats’ daily needs for essential minerals


0.33 g

0.18 g


0.16 g

60 mg


42 mg

25 mg


5 mg

4.6 mg


0.3 mg

0.3 mg


88 µg

19 µg

Canned Tuna

Unfortunately, canned tuna contains mercury, which makes it potentially toxic to felines. If your cat occasionally eats only a bit of canned tuna, it is unlikely to have an issue with poisoning.

On the other hand, regular consumption of this food is often problematic, especially if fish is canned with salt and oil or contains artificial flavors. Take care to rinse the fish before offering it to your cat, especially if you want to feed it with the human canned tuna.

Unfortunately, canned tuna for human use doesn’t contain all the essential vitamins and minerals that your cat needs. On the other hand, canned cat food with tuna includes all necessary nutrients, and it is beneficial for your cat health.

Tuna in Oil or Brine

Even though your cat can eat smaller portions of canned tuna for human use occasionally, you should avoid feeding it with oil-packed tuna or the one in brine. The problem is in a high content of salt, which is not recommended for kitties, especially those that suffer from high blood pressure or heart problems.

Also, it would help if you avoided flavored food. It is an acceptable option in small portions when your cat is a picky eater. In such a case, you can pour a little of the brine from the can over regular food.

When you want to eliminate tuna from your cat’s diet, you need to reduce the amount of that sauce over time until the kitty gets rid of the addiction.

Potential Health Concerns

Cats love seafood, including canned tuna and tuna juice. Most owners give this food to their kitties in moderation, as a treat. Giving canned tuna in large amounts can cause addiction to your cat and can’t meet all its nutritional needs.

Other disadvantages of canned tuna include:

  • Vitamin E deficiency – After consuming too much tuna, your cat may suffer from an E vitamin deficiency, which often leads to painful fatty tissue inflammation (steatitis, yellow fat disease).
  • Allergies – Keep in mind that some cats are sensitive or even allergic to tuna. Once you notice any sign of an allergic reaction in your kitty, such as sneezing, swelling, itching, and coughing, you should never offer this food to it again.
  • Unsaturated fats – Unlike humans, cats may react to high amounts of tuna since unsaturated fats it contains are unhealthy for these pets.
  • Mercury – Tuna contains more mercury than other fish. Once your cat consumes it regularly, it can result in poisoning with this particular mineral. Keep in mind that canned white tuna has three times higher level of mercury than light tuna.
  • Salt – Canned tuna contains too much salt, which may cause heart problems, cystitis, and kidneys failure when ingested in high doses.
  • Taurine – This essential amino acid is crucial for the proper functioning of your cat’s heart and eyes. Unfortunately, canned tuna doesn’t contain it, which makes this fish the inadequate food for regular use.
  • Tuna addiction – Since the taste and smell of tuna is highly attractive to cats, some of them can become addicted. As a result, they will refuse to eat other food, which may lead to eating disorders.

Alternative Healthy Snacks

If you include canned tuna in your cat’s diet, it should be a treat, not a meal. So, take care to offer it a portion with 90% of high-quality, balanced cat food with only 10% of tuna as a source of necessary daily calories.

You can also offer some alternative treats to your kitty when trying to avoid overfeeding it with tuna:

  • Cooked beef, chicken, and turkey
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Whole grains, including barley and brown rice
  • Vegetables, such as zucchini, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, broccoli, celery, peas, and green bell peppers

Always keep in mind that treats are not a part of a balanced meal, so they shouldn’t be a significant part of the cat’s daily intake.


Most experts claim that you should avoid feeding your kitty with tuna in larger quantities, but you can offer to your cat this fish rich in proteins as a treat. However, you should be careful and adequately dose canned tuna to keep your furry friend healthy and prosperous.

2 thoughts on “Can Cats Eat Canned Tuna? Benefits & Potential Health Concerns”

  1. Thanks for informing me that I should refrain from giving my cat human canned tuna because it contains mercury, which is unhealthy to be consumed by felines. My boyfriend is planning to purchase a wholesale pack of canned tuna for us and our three pet Persian cats. I’ll tell him what you shared with me so we would only feed them canned tuna occasionally. My boyfriend and I would have to eat the rest of the tunas, but it’s okay since it’s known to be the most nutritious canned food. Thanks again, Maia!

  2. I heard that the kind of vitamin B in the oil that they put in tuna fish with oil can cause muscle deficiencies in the back legs of cats when they are older


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