Can Cats Eat Fish Bones? 9 Facts You Can’t Deny

Cats can only survive by eating meat. In the wild, they would feast on a wide variety of small prey, selecting the most nutritious parts and then devouring the rest.

Cats that go on fishing expeditions often eat what they catch, including the fish bones.

However, domestic cats differ greatly from their wild ancestors, so not only is feeding them too much fish unhealthy, but so is feeding them fish bones, which can cause choking and other issues.

Do not give your cat any part of a fish that has been cooked if you plan on feeding it fish bones. You should begin with smaller fish, and your cat should never be left alone with a bone.

Is It Safe For Cats To Eat Fish Bones?

Cats shouldn’t eat fish bones because they aren’t safe, despite the fact that they don’t contain anything toxic.

To begin with, they may pose a choking hazard. Since domestic cats aren’t naturally adapted to consuming fish, they may not know how to properly chew on a fish bone and end up swallowing it whole.

Fish bones, if not properly chewed, pose a choking hazard and, depending on their sharpness, can also scratch your cat’s throat.

Even after cooking, fish bones can cause abrasions and gastrointestinal distress.

Raw fish bone is another potentially dangerous item to give your cat. Raw seafood shouldn’t be left out for more than 2 hours, or more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Salmonella and other harmful bacteria can survive in raw fish if it is kept at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Domestic cats are susceptible to the same symptoms of food poisoning in humans as humans are. Since there are plenty of tasty alternatives that are much safer for your cat to eat, it’s best to avoid giving it raw fish and fish bones.

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silver fish on a plate

The Dangers of Cooked Fish Bones

Fish bones become harder and more brittle when exposed to oxygen, especially during cooking. This increases the likelihood that they will break or shatter as your cat chews on them.

A broken bone can become stuck in the throat and difficult for your cat to move on its own because of its rigidity. As a result, you shouldn’t give your cat any cooked bones.

Raw Fish Have Softer Bones

Your cat will have an easier time chewing on raw bones than cooked ones. A cat should be able to easily and safely regurgitate a bone if it becomes stuck, eliminating any risk of choking.

If you insist on feeding your cat fish bones, make sure they are raw and uncooked.

Small Fish First

Fish bones range in size according to the fish’s actual body mass. The large bones of predatory fish pose a significant choking hazard.

Pick a fish that’s about the same size as your cat, and especially at first, stick to smaller fish.

Smaller fish bones, like those in sardines and mackerel, should be easier for them to digest than those in tuna.


Dinner Supervision

You should always supervise your cat’s first taste of anything new and raw. This is especially important to remember when serving bone-in meats or fish.

The possibility, however slight, exists that a bone could break, become stuck, and lead to choking.

What To Do If Your Cat Ate Fish Bones

Keep an eye on your cat for the next couple of days if you suspect they have ingested fish bones.

It’s possible that cats can eat fish and not have any problems with digestion or passing the bones. However, it’s also possible for them to experience tummy trouble, so keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to eat
  • Feeling sick or licking your lips constantly

Blood in your cat’s stool may also point to an infection or damage to the intestinal lining. Call your vet immediately if you find any blood or mucus in your cat’s feces, whether it’s red or black.

The veterinarian’s recommended course of action for your cat will be based on the severity of his or her condition.

In order to give your cat’s digestive system a break, you may need to feed it a bland diet for a few days. To treat diarrhea, your vet may run tests or prescribe antibiotics.

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Cats can get irritated when fish bones get stuck in their throats or mouths. Some or all of the following signs may indicate that your cat has an obstruction in its throat:

  • Retching
  • Gagging
  • Energy dissipation
  • Inability to eat
  • Excessive licking of lips
  • Regurgitation
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Issues with breathing
  • Constant swallowing
  • Gently licking their lips

Get in touch with your vet if your cat exhibits any of these symptoms. Having your veterinarian remove the blockage may require an appointment.

veterinarian checks mouth of the maine coon cat

What to Do If Your Cat Is Choking

Determine if there is a blockage and try to remove it if your cat is choking.

You can tell if your cat is choking on a fishbone by gently opening its mouth.

To locate an obstruction, move your index finger around the mouth gently without forcing anything further down the throat.

If you’re unable to clear the obstruction, you may need to use the “Heimlich maneuver for cats.” Place your cat’s back against your chest while holding it. Gently but firmly prod the belly button upward.

Repeat that quickly five times. Hold your cat up by the hips and tap against its back before sweeping its mouth again if this doesn’t budge the bone.

After the bone or other obstruction has been removed, you should rush your cat to an emergency vet.

cat is choking

Feeding Fish to Your Cats

Whether or not wild cats would have eaten fish, the modern domestic cat is very different from its ancestors. Due to these factors, it’s not always recommended that you give your cat fish.

Cats have a strong reputation for being fish eaters. However, in reality, they shouldn’t be given fish every day. Loss of appetite, weakness, and even death can result from a thiamine deficiency.

There are a few main reasons why you shouldn’t give your cat an excessive amount of fish:

  • Dye is fed to fish like salmon to enhance their natural salmon color. Antibiotics are also given to them to stop the spread of disease. You risk making your cat sick by giving it these.
  • Mercury levels in the blood of tuna and other large fish are naturally quite low. They also increase these numbers through their diet of smaller fish. Larger fish tend to have higher concentrations of pesticides and other harmful toxins due to their feeding habits, which may explain why tuna is notorious for having high mercury levels.
  • Tuna can cause severe addiction in felines, which is a further problem with feeding it to them. Your cat may only eat twice or three times before she stops eating altogether.
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Safe Alternatives for Fish Bones

While it’s true that giving your cat fishbones is risky, there are other options that are much safer. These substitutes have a similar taste to fish bones or a similar texture.

Freeze-Dried Fish Treats

Cats really enjoy and benefit from freeze-dried fish treats. Freeze-drying causes the bones in some small fish to become brittle and easy to break. Therefore, cats need not worry about them.

a tabby cat being fed a cat treat by hand

Jerky Treats

Jerky treats made from fish bones are a tasty and entertaining option for cats that enjoy nibbling on food.

These snacks are much less likely to harm your cat’s digestive tract.

Be mindful of the size of the treats you give your cat, particularly if it is a fast eater.

Dental Chews

Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-recommended dental chews are both healthy for their teeth and fun to crunch on.

Fish Broth

One of the safest ways to introduce your cat to the flavor of fish is through fish broth. When introducing a new brand of cat food, it’s important to do so gradually to prevent stomach upset.

Fish broth is a tasty way to increase your cat’s water intake and make mealtimes more enjoyable.

Cute cat eating food from bowl

Conclusion: Can Cats Eat Fish Bones?

We all know that fish is loaded with healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6, both of which are crucial for kitties.

However, there are risks associated with feeding fish to cats, and limiting the amount of fish that you give your feline friend is the best and possibly the only way to avoid these risks.

If you choose to feed your cat fish, it’s best to serve it raw or remove the bones from cooked fish.

While most cats can easily digest and regurgitate fish bones, cooked bones are more likely to shatter and become lodged in the throat if the animal accidentally swallows one.

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