Why Do Cats Like Fish?

Why Do Cats Like Fish?

If ever I went into the larder to retrieve a can of food, whatever it was, my cat Chika would go crazy; jumping up, meowing as loud as she could, pawing at the can until I could open the contents and of course hoping that it was her favourite tuna treat! So it got me asking, ‘why do cats like fish’? 

Cats hate water, right? So they can’t be natural fish hunters, surely..then again, are domesticated cats even hunters at all these days?

My gut instinct tells me that cats like fish because it smells good to them. It’s strong, and the ‘fishy’ flavour must appeal. 

I thought I’d go on a little mission to find out why cats enjoy fish, and whether it is the purrfect thing for them to be eating.


Is Fish Good for Cats?

Cats are what we call ‘obligate carnivores’, which means they rely on meat to survive. This is unlike dogs who are omnivores and can quite easily tolerate cereals and vegetables in their diet.

Cats’ nutrient requirements therefore include a high protein diet, and specifically some essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), which cats cannot produce for themselves.

The two most important essential amino acids cats need are taurine and arginine. These are found in meat and fish, as these are good sources of proteins. Therefore fish is good for cats, although beware:

  1. A complete cat food (wet or dry) will contain the correct amount of essential amino acids and other nutrients that your cat needs daily, whereas a tin of tuna for example, may not on its own, so feeding fish alone will not meet all their needs.
  2. Certain fish such as tuna contain higher levels or mercury. Again, this is another reason not to feed it to cats on a regular basis, but as an occasional treat in small portions.


Do Cats Hunt Fish?

I’ve never known a cat of mine enjoy the water. That said, certain breeds of cat may enjoy it more than others. The Maine Coon, traditional ships cats from New England, and the Manx cat from the Isle of Man, UK, are two breeds who may be partial to getting their paws wet. 

However, cats don’t tend to naturally hunt fish as such. In fact, cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, and realistically they feed as and when the opportunity arises. 

Chika, my favourite cat growing up, would hunt regularly for mice, birds, and even small bunnies. But she did also spend a lot of time lurking around the pond – has your cat ever caught a fish?!


What Fish Should My Cat Eat?

Lets try and keep this simple with a few points:

  • Feed ALL fish in moderation, as a treat complimentary to your cat’s balanced complete cat food.
  • Canned fish should be in water rather than brine or oil. Tuna in spring water is my preferred choice of fishy treat. 
  • Cook fish simply without adding oil or additives – such as grilling
  • Don’t give your cat fish which has been smoked or cured, or processed fish products like fish fingers. Plain fish is key. 
  • Ensure all bones are removed before feeding.


Final Thoughts

Cats love fish because cats are carnivores, and are instinctively attracted to the smell and flavour it offers. 

Cats can eat plain cooked or canned fish as a treat in moderation, but alone, eating fish will not provide all of their dietary needs.

Remember to feed your cat a complete and balanced cat food as their main diet, to ensure that they get the essentials they need at all times, with plenty of fresh water. 


Does your cat like fish? Let us know!