Due to their high price and limited availability, many people view scallops as a luxury food. Also, they have so much flavor your cat might start staring at you and begging for a bite.
But can you safely feed your cat scallops from your plate? Can a cat eat scallops? What follows is a comprehensive guide to feeding scallops to your feline friend.
Can Cats Eat Scallops?
It’s true that cats can safely eat scallops because they’re not poisonous.
However, scallops should never be served raw to a cat.
Salmonella and other unpleasant things, like parasites, are common in raw scallops. Make sure the scallops you give your cat are fresh and fully cooked.
You should think twice before giving them to your cat if you don’t like the way they smell, even if you’re not going to eat them yourself.
Are Scallops Good for Cats?
Scallops, when provided in moderation, can be a very beneficial part of your cat’s diet. Protein and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in abundance in scallops.
Vitamin B12, potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, copper, iodine, and choline are all found in adequate amounts in these. Cooked scallops provide these, an essential nutrient for cats.
Thiaminase, an enzyme found in raw scallops, can break down thiamine (vitamin B1) and prevent it from being absorbed by the body, leading to a thiamine deficiency.
Seizures and convulsions are just two of the potentially fatal symptoms of thiamine deficiency in felines.
Food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E. coli can also be contracted from eating raw scallops.
While it has been reported that raw scallops are safe for human consumption, the safety of this dish depends greatly on the scallops’ origin and preparation.
Avoid giving your cat any raw scallops if you care about its health.
Bivalve mollusks like scallops have shells and meat that can be easily removed before cooking. The meat is an adductor muscle encased in a membrane that is removed from the shell and cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, baking, frying, boiling, and so on.
When cooked properly, scallops have a sweet flavor and a tender texture that appeal to many diners.
The health benefits of scallops are numerous as well. In only three ounces, scallops provide:
- Calories: 94
- 0 carbs
- Exactly 2g of fat
- Protein, 5 grams’ worth
- 333 milligrams of omega-3s
- Cobalamin (B12)
Cats can also benefit from these low-fat, high-protein foods, but they likely already get everything they need from their regular diet.
Cats can benefit from eating a scallop now and then because it is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
It’s probably not a big deal if you want to feed your cat plain scallops or if your cat helps itself to some. Keep a close eye on your cat while feeding it scallops to see how it reacts.
Precautions for Feeding Scallops to Cats
Cats can eat scallops, but there are a few precautions you should take. Never feed your cat raw scallops because they may be contaminated with salmonella and other harmful bacteria.
In addition, scallops are best when prepared simply, without any additional seasonings, sauces, or coatings.
Baked or broiled scallops are preferable to fried ones because the latter can give your cat an unhealthy amount of fat that can cause gastrointestinal distress.
The high levels of cadmium, mercury, lead, and arsenic found in scallops are a major cause for alarm.
Arsenic is toxic to humans in large doses and has been linked to cancer and organ damage.
Since cats are much smaller than humans, they can tolerate much higher concentrations of heavy metals in scallops than humans can.
Last but not least, an allergy could develop. For cats with a history of seafood allergies, scallops should be avoided at all costs. Start with a small amount and see how your cat reacts before increasing the serving size.
Allergic reactions in cats can show themselves in a variety of ways.
- Red, watery eyes
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Bruised paws
- Licking too much
- Dry or irritated skin
When a cat is re-exposed to an allergen to which it has already developed an immunity, a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can occur. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal. The following are examples of symptoms:
- Challenges in breathing
- Involuntary bowel movement
- Inability to control urination
Keep an eye on your cat after introducing something new, like scallops, because anaphylaxis can develop quickly.
How Many Scallops Can I Give My Cat?
Scallops are high in protein, but you shouldn’t feed them to your cat more than once or twice a week. Despite their high nutrient density, there are better options for your cat’s diet that provide all the nutrients your cat needs.
Your cat only needs a few small scallop meat pieces. Remember that cats are considerably smaller than humans, and therefore have much lower calorie needs.
About 10% or more of a typical cat’s daily calorie requirement can be met by a single scallop.
It’s also worth noting that scallops, despite their diminutive size, filter through a surprisingly large volume of water every day in order to eat.
Because of this, heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and even arsenic may accumulate in their tissues.
Heavy metals can accumulate in the body and cause serious health problems or even death if consumed in high enough quantities over an extended period of time. The risk of heavy metal accumulation in farmed scallops is lower than in wild-caught scallops.
What Other Seafood Can Cats Eat?
Most seafood is safe for cats to eat, but the same precautions should be taken as with scallops: make sure it’s plain, fully cooked, free of spices and herbs, and monitored for any signs of allergy or digestive upset.
You can supplement your cat’s diet with occasional small servings of the following plain seafood:
- Boneless, skinless fish
Your cat will benefit from the extra protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and trace minerals that can be found in these seafood options. Your cat could get very sick if you fed it raw meat.
Use caution when feeding seafood for the first time, as there may be similar risks associated with heavy metals and allergies.
Once you’ve established that your cat is fine with seafood, you can treat it occasionally instead of its regular diet.
Your cat may enjoy a tasty treat of scallops. You shouldn’t feed them to your cat regularly as a source of protein, but rather as a special treat.
The only way to make sure the scallops are safe for your cat is to cook them. If you feed your cat raw scallops, he or she may develop a thiamine deficiency or become ill.
Your cat’s brain, eyes, skin, coat, muscles, and joints will all benefit from their high nutrient and omega fatty acid content.
They are tasty and will keep your cat coming back for more, and they contain many nutrients that are important to its health.
However, you should only feed your cat scallops once or twice a week, and only in very small amounts. Discuss your cat’s dietary needs with your veterinarian.
You can use this information to figure out how many calories your cat can safely consume in treats every day.
You should give your cat a variety of treats, and scallops could be a great addition to that. Considering how rare and expensive scallops are, it’s best to only give them to your cat occasionally as part of a larger variety of treats.
Additionally, there is always a chance that your cat’s stomach will not agree with a new food, leading to GI distress such as vomiting and diarrhea.