Can Cats Eat Chicken? Safety Guidelines for Your Kitty - Public Goods

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Can Cats Eat Chicken? Safety Guidelines for Your Kitty

Does your feline friend love to help you cook? Maybe she jumps up on the counter while you chop raw chicken, or meows incessantly while it cooks.

black and white cat leaning on wooden table and staring at camera

You might even find her nibbling the other end of your sandwich.

Even the most persnickety kitties love chicken. As a responsible pet owner, you probably landed here because you were wondering, “Can cats eat chicken? Is it safe?

Let’s take the mystery out of whether or not your pet can eat this flavorful meat.

Can Cats Eat Chicken?

Yes, cats can eat chicken. Chicken is used in many high-quality cat foods including Public Goods’ Organic Dry Cat Food.

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But you’ll need to take a few precautions before adding this tasty treat to your feline’s diet.

First of all, you shouldn’t give your cat table scraps. Your chicken is likely seasoned to perfection—for a human tongue and digestive system.

While cats are obligate carnivores, they don’t do well with spices or oils. Their sensitive tummies prefer lean, unseasoned, cooked animal protein. That’s why you should be feeding them primarily cat food.

One safe way to prepare chicken for your cat is to boil it. We’ll get into other ways of feeding chicken to your pet below.

Health Benefits of Chicken for Cats

cooked chicken on a grill

Not surprisingly, chicken is good for domestic cats.

Dr. Hyunmin Kim, DVM, Director of Community Medicine, ASPCA, tells us that all cats require taurine, an amino acid that is important for normal heart function, vision, and reproduction.

Since taurine is found only in animal-based protein, all cats need to be eating meat-based diets to meet their nutritional requirements.

“Cats need to eat meat because they need to obtain some vitamins such as vitamin A and certain amino acids in their preformed state,” says Dr. Kim. “Chicken itself does not provide any specific health benefits.”

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

You might see your kitten forego her “cat cereal” (commercial cat food) for your human-grade uncooked chicken meat on the cutting board.

Stop those paws! Even though cats are known to feast on birds, you should never give your cat raw chicken. Raw chicken may upset your kitty’s stomach. Dr. Kim adds that your cat is just as at risk to get Salmonella or E. Coli poisoning as you are.

You may have heard of the increasingly popular raw food diet for cats. The motivation behind a raw diet is that it’s closer to your cat’s natural diet than cooked or dry pet food.

In fact, a large, structured survey conducted in the U.S. in 2016 showed that 4% of cat owners reported purchasing raw pet food.

A 2019 review of the data on raw feeding domestic companion animals documented these risks:

  • Malnutrition due to poorly formulated food, even in commercial raw pet food
  • Microbiological hazards (including but not limited to Salmonella and E. Coli)
  • Infections and parasites that could affect cats and household members (such as toxoplasmosis)

Long study short, the risks of feeding your cat raw meat of any kind far outweigh the perceived benefits.

Can Cats Eat Chicken Bones?

hand scratching the neck of a white cat

It’s fun to picture your little hunter as a wild apex predator picking the flesh off the bones of her kill (even if it’s chicken you prepared for her).

However, cooked chicken bones are small and splinter easily. They are a choking hazard for your fluffy friend and can even be sharp enough to puncture her throat, stomach and intestines.

Raw chicken bones don’t splinter as easily, but they’re still small enough to pose a health risk. Plus, too many raw bones can lead to constipation.

Lastly, there are no nutritional benefits to chicken bones, but they might aid in cleaning your cat’s teeth.

So do many cat treats. Opt for a softer, safer treat instead.

How to Cook Chicken for Your Cat: 3 Methods

Start by purchasing boneless chicken. Any cut will do, be it breast or thigh. Just be sure to cut off the fat as trimmings can lead to pancreatitis.

Boiling Chicken

While it might not sound appetizing to you, your kitty will come running toward the smell of boiling chicken.

Start by boiling water in a medium saucepan. Add the chicken. Maintain a rolling boil for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through. If you’re not sure, cut the thickest section of chicken and make sure it’s firm and white, not gelatinous and pink.

Once thoroughly cooked, remove the chicken from the water and set it aside or in the refrigerator for an hour to completely cool.

Dice into small pieces to help your cat eat and digest her food easily. Serve her half an ounce to an ounce of chicken on special occasions.

Oven-Baked Chicken

whole grilled chicken on a bed of green in white serving plate

Does your pet kitten love eating a fillet of juicy chicken?

Oven baking consistently makes moist, tender chicken. Best of all, it’s easy and mess-free!

Start by preheating your oven to 400°F.

Place a piece of tin foil over a baking sheet. This will ensure no oils from previous meals get on your feline’s feast.

Once preheated, put your chicken on the tin foil and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly. Again, check to make sure it’s cooked through by slicing the thickest part of the cut.

Set aside until completely cool. Do not season. Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve.

Canned Chicken

The best part about canned chicken is that it’s already cooked. The frustrating part is that some canned chicken contains extra sodium. So, can cats eat canned chicken?

Yes, just be sure to check the sodium content on the label.

If you can find low- or no-sodium canned chicken, your kitty will jump for joy at the sound of the can opener.

Simply open the can, drain the water, and get to chopping. Even though canned chicken is softer than home-cooked chicken, you’ll still want to chop it into small cubes for kitty.

As with the other methods, don’t season this chicken. It already tastes exactly how your cat likes it—extra meaty.

Chicken and Cats: A Love Story

You and your kitty pal can now safely enjoy a romantic chicken dinner together. Just be sure her meal is thoroughly cooked and unseasoned. She’ll stay happy and healthy with a renewed love for her human companion.

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