You want to give your feline friend all the tasty treats in the world.
There is nothing wrong with that!
Even so, you know that a cat’s digestive system is very different from a human’s, and there are foods we love that are not good for a cat.
As a responsible pet owner who is careful with your cat’s diet, you have come to the right place.
Here we will answer the question: can cats eat shrimp?
If so, what kinds of shrimp can they eat, how much can you give them, and how can it be prepared safely for your cat?
Can Cats Eat Shrimp?
To make a long story short: yes, cats can eat shrimp.
However, don’t be so quick to toss your cat some of your deep-fried jumbo prawns.
Other restrictions apply to feeding a cat shrimp that depends on the cat’s dietary needs and the preparation of the shrimp.
Can Cats Eat Raw Shrimp?
In theory, yes, as an occasional treat. In practice?
Feeding raw shrimp or raw fish to a cat is not the best idea.
Cooking shrimp rids the chemicals it may have been treated with during processing.
Certain fungicides or antibiotics in pre-packaged or processed shrimp are toxic to cats.
Can Cats Eat Shrimp Shells?
Yes, so long as the shrimp shell has been prepared properly.
Your cat will appreciate the crispy, crunchy shrimp tail as a snack.
Cats can also technically eat shrimp heads, shrimp tails, and legs under the same conditions.
However, some vets recommend that since you should serve shrimp to cats as bland as possible, you should only give your cat the cleaned, cooked, and deveined torso of the shrimp.
Be aware, however, that shrimp shells can be high in sodium, which can cause heart problems and dehydration in your cat.
So never soak in brine shrimp shells you intend to feed your cat.
Shrimp shells can also be a choking hazard.
Observe your cat while it eats.
Know how to respond if it begins to choke.
Can Cats Eat Home Cooked Shrimp?
Yes, plain, cleaned, cooked shrimp is the healthiest for your cat.
Wild-caught shrimp is also best for your cat since fresh shrimp is not chemically treated.
In addition, avoid adding salt, oil, spices, or other seasonings to the shrimp you intend to feed your cat.
Can Cats Be Allergic To Shrimp?
Yes. Allergens for both humans and animals are everywhere.
Shrimp is not a common food allergen for cats (the most common are dairy, beef, and chicken), but it is something to be aware of.
Typical symptoms of allergic reactions to food to watch your cat for include coughing or wheezing, excessive scratching/itchy skin, runny nose, watery eyes, scratching or chewing the base of the tail, diarrhea, vomiting, harsh or rough meowing, snoring, and excessive paw chewing.
Is Processed Shrimp Good For Your Cat?
No. Frozen shrimp, pre-packaged shrimp, and dried shrimp are not healthy since they are all preserved with high amounts of sodium.
High amounts of sodium in your cat’s blood (a condition known as hypernatremia) can lead to dehydration/increased thirst, confusion or disorientation, seizures, coma or death, and other severe symptoms.
Where Can You Buy Shrimp To Feed To Your Cat?
Since fresh caught and plain cooked shrimp are the safest to feed your cat, the best place to buy shrimp to share with your cat.
Your average pet store is not likely to have fresh seafood but may have shrimp-flavored treats or canned food.
Is Shrimp Good For Cats?
Shrimp as an occasional small treat has many health benefits for your cat.
However, it should not replace your cat food.
Make sure to only give it to your cat in moderation.
Eating shrimp is not only a welcome snack for obligate carnivores like your cat but an extremely nutritious one.
It contains considerable amounts of protein, vitamins (specifically B12 and E, which benefit your cat’s digestion, immune system, and nervous system), and omega-3s, which boost your cat’s heart health.
Good For Brain Health
In addition to the omega-3s, shrimp contains omega-6 fatty acids and the essential nutrient choline, which benefit your cat’s skin, heart, and brain functions.
Choline greatly benefits your cat’s cognitive function, and some studies suggest it can prevent feline Alzheimer’s disease in older cats.
Good For Bone Health
Shrimp also contains the essential nutrients phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium, all of which strengthen bones and prevent the degradation of bones in aging cats.
Good For Weight Management
Shrimp are not only high in protein but extremely low in calories.
So if you only feed your cat shrimp in moderation, it can be a great healthy treat!
Half a shrimp to one whole shrimp are a suitable serving size for a cat.
However, as with feeding your cat excessive amounts of any food, too much shrimp can cause health issues such as bloat, lethargy, high cholesterol, and harmful weight gain.
Health Risks of Shrimp For Cats
Despite all its nutritional components, shrimp also poses health risks to your cat.
For instance, shrimp can inhibit the production of vitamin K, the protein necessary for healthy blood clotting.
A vitamin K deficiency in your cat can cause excessive bleeding even from minor cuts, internal bleeding, spontaneous bruising, and even death by blood loss.
As previously mentioned, shrimp shells can be a choking hazard for cats, so consider that before you decide to feed the shells to your cat.
Shrimp should only ever be given to your cat in small amounts as an occasional treat and should never be considered an adequate replacement for a full and balanced meal.
If your cats diet is too heavy on seafood or fish can cause low levels of thiamine (vitamin B1), it can lead to feline anorexia, vomiting, and several severe neurological conditions such as:
- Impaired vision and dilated pupils
- Impaired coordination caused by nerve, brain, or muscle damage (ataxia)
- Other vestibular signs such as poor balance
How To Safely Prepare Shrimp For Your Cat
Before you feed fresh caught or plain cooked shrimp to your cat, you must prepare it to be healthy and safe for felines to consume.
You should always devein shrimp and remove its digestive system before feeding it to your cat.
The best way to cook shrimp for your cat is to boil, bake, or steam it and then serve it plain.
Do not serve your cat seasoned shrimp that has been heavily salted, breaded or fried, or dressed/dipped in any sauce.
Many ingredients in these additives can cause your cat stomach distress or other severe health issues.
Shrimp can be a safe and tasty snack for your pet cat, so long as you give it fresh or plain cooked shrimp with nothing added.
Shells are nontoxic but can present a choking hazard.
Feed your cat only bland shrimp in small amounts and only once in a while.
Though shrimp has many health benefits for your cat, it can cause considerable health problems if consumed excessively.
Therefore, always use caution when feeding your cat human food.
It is best to stick with cat food.
If you have questions or concerns about how to safely feed your cat shrimp or other human foods, please feel free to comment below!