Can Cats Eat Canned Chicken? Vet-Reviewed facts

Chicken provides the healthy animal protein that cats require. But controversies exist regarding how safe and nutritious canned varieties are for felines long-term due to their high sodium content. So what do experts say about “can cats eat canned chicken?” Let’s review.

Is canned chicken bad for my cat?

Not necessarily. In moderation, canned chicken likely poses little harm. But the canning process significantly reduces natural nutrients compared to raw chicken. And added salt flavors cats love make regular feedings a questionable choice.

Canned chicken offers easy animal protein and moisture, which cats need. But losing out on the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants fresh meats provide makes it nutritionally unbalanced. Prescription cat food formulas specifically made for kidney health restrict sodium below 1.5% for a reason.

So while the occasional scrap falls into the “generally safe” zone, making a steady canned chicken diet a staple risks kidney, heart, and thyroid damage over time.

Fresh boneless chicken or vet-approved commercial raw cat food offer healthier alternatives if switching up proteins routinely.

Can cats eat raw canned chicken?

Technically, yes, but cooking makes it safer. Raw chicken carries bacteria like Salmonella. Canned commercial chicken undergoes thorough cooking to eliminate this hazard.

So for homemade recipes, always cook chicken to safe internal temperatures, reaching 165°F first. Then cool, shred, and store the cooked chicken safely before serving small portions.

And of course, transition slowly by mixing tiny first servings with regular cat food. Watch for digestive upsets. If you see any results, stop feeding until asking your vet.

Should I Rinse Canned Chicken?

Rinsing won’t eliminate all sodium content. But rinsing canned chicken intended for human consumption reduces some excess salt that cats don’t need.

Drain and discard liquid from the can into your sink. Quickly rinse chunks under cool water without soaking to remove traces clinging to the meat. Gently pat dry with paper towels before mixing a tablespoon or less into cat food.

Rinsing makes an occasional spoonful of canned chicken safer. But for everyday meals, stick with low-sodium commercial or cooked cat food instead.

How long does canned chicken last for?

Sealed, commercially sterilized canned chicken stays fresh and bacteria-free for years when untouched. But once opened, toss leftovers not used within 3-5 days maximum.

Refrigeration only delays spoilage briefly since preserving agents disappear upon exposure to air. So err on the safe side by disposing of untasted portions after 2 days.

Don’t attempt to save and reheat old canned chicken. The risks of foodborne illnesses just aren’t worth it. Stick to freshly opened cans only.

Is Canned Chicken Healthy?

Chicken meat alone cannot sustain obligate carnivores like cats long-term, canned or not. Poultry fails to provide all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed to meet standards for complete cat nutrition without supplementation.

This holds true for any sole protein source—chicken, beef, fish, etc. Cats need specific proportions of vitamins A, D, E, K, B complex, fats, omega oils, prebiotics, antioxidants, amino acids, and more.

Both dry and wet cat foods carefully formulate different animal protein blends to cover those needs. No single meat delivers a 100% balanced diet without dangerous deficiencies developing over weeks or months.

So while canned chicken offers a tasty supplemental protein addition, relying on it exclusively risks malnutrition. For overall diet foundations, stick with reputable cat food products meeting AAFCO standards instead.

Canned Chicken and Obesity

Since canned chicken for humans often contains broth or added salt, the moisture content gets categorized incorrectly as higher protein than the fat it turns into.

This leads some cat owners to conclude it’s diet food, which can ironically cause weight gain. Even in tender chunks mixed with low-calorie cat foods, overfeeding canned chicken fattens cats up without their realizing it.

Talk to your vet about your cat’s ideal weight. Calculate your daily caloric intake goals based on that number. Then adjust portion sizes accordingly if mixing canned chicken into meals, even if just once or twice a week.


So, can cats eat canned chicken? In moderation, yes. The verdict lands on “occasionally OK,” according to most experts.

Canned chicken works best as an appetizing protein topping complementing well-balanced cat food, not replacing it.Check labels for sodium content under 1.5% and ingredients known to be toxic to cats.

Ideally, transition gradually by adding a teaspoon or two mixed into meals once or twice a week safely. Rinsing with salty liquid before mixing the chicken lowers excess sodium intake further.

For everyday foundations, though, feed cats a complete commercial formula approved by your vet. Prescription formulas for kidney health prove even more ideal for cats prone to issues.

Then feel free to spoon a little canned chicken over top as a salt-free feline treat on special days for added protein excitement!

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