Sardines are small fish from the family Clupeidae. Unfortunately, it isn’t the most precise term that can be found out there. What is and isn’t a sardine can see a fair amount of variation from place to place. Sometimes, sardines are just young pilchards. Other times, sardines and pilchards are separate terms referring to separate species. Whatever the case, sardines are a popular food for a wide range of people in a wide range of places. It is possible to buy fresh sardines. However, most people will be most familiar with the canned version. As such, cat owners might be wondering whether their cats can eat these sardines or not.
Can Cats Eat Sardines?
The answer is a bit complicated. Still, the gist of it is that cats should be able to eat sardines. It isn’t something that cat owners should be feeding their cats day in and day out, but it can be beneficial in more moderate quantities. Be warned that different kinds of sardines can have different effects, so this is one of those cases where interested individuals need to pay even more attention to the specifics than usual.
Speak With Your Veterinarian
Cat owners should always start by consulting their veterinarian whenever they think about feeding their cat something new. There are a couple of main reasons for this. First, they can’t be sure that something that is fine for most cats will be fine for their cat. As a result, it is a good idea to get some advice on the matter from the medical professional who should have the best understanding of their cat’s general condition. Second, just because they know that their cat can eat something, that doesn’t mean that they know how much their cat can eat of that something. As mentioned earlier, different kinds of sardines can be very different from one another, both because the term refers to more than one species and because sardines can be packaged in so many ways. That means that consulting a veterinarian is even more important for them than for other foods.
Don’t Feed Raw Sardines to Cats
Generally speaking, cat owners shouldn’t feed raw fish to their cats. This is because raw fish can contain bacteria that are harmful to cats, meaning that it needs to be cooked for the purpose of eliminating such threats. On top of this, raw fish contains thiaminase which destroys thiamine. Thanks to that, eating too much of the stuff can cause cats to experience a nutritional deficiency because thiamine might be better-known to interested individuals as vitamin B1. Of course, when people cook their sardines before feeding the cooked results to their cat, they should be very careful about their choice of cooking ingredients. Sardines might be safe for cats. However, there is no guarantee that the same will be true for the cooking ingredients that sardines get cooked with. To be safest, interested individuals might want to just cook the sardines on their own with no cooking ingredients whatsoever.
Canned Sardines Tend to Have High Salt
Canning is meant to extend the period of time for which canned foods remain edible. Unsurprisingly, canned sardines tend to be high in salt, which is an issue when cat owners should be very careful about their cats’ salt intake. Simply put, our feline companions need some salt. Unfortunately, if they eat too much salt, they run the risk of salt poisoning. Due to this, interested individuals shouldn’t feed their cat too much canned sardine. Yes, it might be convenient. However, there are less problematic options. For example, some brands have less salt. Similarly, they might want to consider rinsing their canned sardines to remove some of the salt.
Be Careful About Feeding Cats the Substance In Which the Canned Sardines Are Immersed
The various substances in which the canned sardines are immersed aren’t necessarily safe for cats. Tomato sauce shouldn’t be too much of a problem for cats. There are parts of the tomato plant that are straight-up poisonous for cats, but those parts shouldn’t have been used to make tomato sauce. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for tomato sauce to have considerable amounts of salt. Even worse, it is possible for tomato sauce to contain onion and garlic, which should always be kept away from cats because they are poisonous for the latter. Meanwhile, olive oil and sunflower oil aren’t necessarily bad for cats in small amounts. However, when cats eat too much of these oils, they can experience gastrointestinal issues in the short run as well as worse problems in the long run. As for brine, well, suffice to say that brine is literally water with a lot of salt in it. If people want a safe option, they might want to look for canned sardines with spring water. That should have less salt in it. Furthermore, that shouldn’t cause any complications for the cat that consumes it.
Sardines Shouldn’t Contain Too Much Mercury
Cat owners might have been cautioned about feeding too much seafood to their cat because seafood contains mercury. This happens because pollution has caused mercury to enter water sources, with the result that it is absorbed by the fish as well as other aquatic species living in those water sources. It is possible for living beings to flush mercury out of their system. Unfortunately, this happens at such a slow pace that the mercury can build up in their system. Species that are closer to the top of the food chain are more susceptible to this than others because they aren’t just absorbing the mercury from their surroundings but also consuming the mercury absorbed by their prey. Sardines aren’t quite good in this regard when compared with sharks and tuna. They are carnivores, but they are carnivores that feed on zooplankton. As such, sardines are on the low end of things when it comes to their mercury levels.