When we love the animals that live with us, we want the best for them. We want to satisfy their needs and wants as much as our own.
We want them to be happy.
So, when we are eating something we love, we think it is delicious and we want to share it with our animals as well.
Yet human food is not necessarily good for our animal friends. For instance, you love shrimp. It is a delicious source of protein.
However, what about your cat? Can cats eat shrimp? It is important to be discerning when giving your cat human food.
Some human food can’t be digested right. Some might cause allergic reactions and some human food could actually poison your cat.
Perhaps, the most common reaction to your cat eating human food is that the cat learns to like it more than her own food.
Cats are notoriously finicky eaters and if it comes to like your food more than regular cat food, it might refuse to eat its own food.
Will Shrimp Hurt my Cat?
Can cats eat shrimp? Yes, they can. In fact, you will find shrimp in many types of prepared cat food, both wet and dry.
However, that shrimp is processed. It is not the same as the fresh shrimp or fried shrimp you are eating.
So, your cat can eat fresh shrimp, but is it healthy?
It certainly is a delicious type of seafood and cats will think so, just as much as we do.
They can eat it, but should they? Is it good for your cat or can it be dangerous? How much can you give and how often?
It really is alright for cats to eat fresh shrimp. However, it should not replace their regular food and should only be given occasionally and in small amounts.
Potential Issues from Eating Shrimp
There are things in fresh shrimp that are not good for your cat. Shrimp has a lot of cholesterol that could damage heart health.
Shrimp has a lot of sodium, which can affect both heart health and the potential for diabetes.
Though seafood is overall a cat’s favorite type of food, you need to make sure they have it in moderation and not an all shrimp diet.
- High Cholesterol – can cause plaque buildup in arteries and cause blockage of the blood to the heart.
- High Sodium – shrimp contains a high degree of sodium which can cause high blood pressure.
- Choosing shrimp over regular food – based on that knowledge of finicky eaters. Don’t let your cat have as much shrimp as it wants. Cats need a certain amount of protein, minerals, and vitamins that are not in shrimp but are designed into cat food. Shrimp cannot be a substitute for cat food.
How is Shrimp Good for my Cat?
Now you know that the answer to the question, “Can cats eat shrimp?” is yes. Seafood and especially shrimp are safe for your cat to eat. Is it actually good for him?
As a limited treat, it certainly is. Shrimp contains many nutrients that help to keep your cat healthy.
- Vitamin E, Vitamins B6, B3 and B12
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Minerals – Copper, Iodine, Zinc, Phosphorus, and Selenium
- Natural Anti-inflammatory agents’ carotenoid astaxanthin and Antioxidants.
The Omega 3 Fatty Acids are good for the cat’s coat, skin, heart, and brain.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidants help to keep the nervous system and musculoskeletal systems healthy.
The carotenoid astaxanthin also helps prevent diabetes and colon cancer.
In general, shrimp is low in calories and high in protein. That combination can never be wrong.
The minerals are good for your cat as well.
- Copper helps to develop bones, collagen, and connective tissue. Copper is an antioxidant. Cats need 5mg of copper for every 1 kg of food. Not having enough copper can cause anemia in cats.
- Iodine assures that the thyroid works as it should. Hypothyroidism will occur if the cat does not get enough iodine. Cats can become obese, lose fur and be grumpy.
- Zinc is used to keep the cat’s fur and skin healthy, Cats don’t absorb it easily, so the dose is recommended at 75mg per kg of food, which seems high. Zinc assists with the immune system and inflammatory processes.
- Phosphorus is an element that cats really need. They get it in meat and seafood. They need good calcium to phosphorus balance. Too much phosphorous can cause kidney damage.
- Selenium works with Vitamin E to produce an antioxidant agent. Selenium is not very present, yet it has a big job. However, cats do not need much, and they will probably get the 0.1 mg per kg they need from meat in prepared cat food. Be careful not to overdo it with this element, as toxicity causes anemia, hair loss, cirrhosis of the liver and lameness.
How to Serve Shrimp
Since you now know that it is healthy for cats to eat shrimp how would you serve it? Cooked? Raw? Frozen? How much is too much?
Let’s start with the amount of shrimp your cat should eat.
Moderation is the key to answering the question, “can cats eat shrimp?”. Yes, they can in moderation.
Give shrimp to your cat only as a treat and never as a meal. Start giving your cat a very small amount of shrimp and wait to see how cat handles it.
If a cat shows any signs of allergies or sickness, stoop giving the shrimp immediately.
There is no need to remove the tails and heads as cats will gladly eat these. However, you do need to “clean” the shrimp’s digestive tract to protect your animal from whatever the shrimp had eaten.
Give your cat small bites even if it eats shrimp all the time. Too much will affect your cat’s digestive system.
Any sign of bloating or difficulty breathing, and swallowing should indicate that your cat needs to see a vet right away.
Fresh, Cooked, or Frozen?
Make sure the shrimp is fresh no more than a day or two old when you feed it to your cat.
Cats unlike dogs, are not scavengers and can only eat meat and fish that are fresh.
Your cat can eat raw, cooked or frozen shrimp. Reserve frozen shrimp for hot summer months when it would be refreshing for your cat.
You can keep fresh shrimp frozen for several weeks.
Your cat will naturally enjoy raw shrimp more than cooked shrimp. Just as many people prefer fried shrimp, your cat will prefer raw ones.
Just don’t feed your cat the shrimp from a shrimp cocktail as the cocktail sauce can be harmful to your cat.
Wash the shrimp well if it came from your shrimp cocktail appetizer.
If you do cook the shrimp, again, make sure it is fresh, raw shrimp.
Don’t cook it with any flavorings or spices including garlic, onions, or garlic powder and onion powder. So, in addition to having to clean shrimp that comes from the traditional shrimp cocktail appetizer, it’s not really good to feed your cat with any shrimp you bring home from a restaurant.
You might not know what spices it was cooked in.
Can cats eat shrimp? The answer is a resounding yes but with a caveat.
Remember, your goal is to make your cat happy while keeping safe. Make sure the shrimp is fresh and clean. Remove the digestive tract, but there is no need to get rid of the legs, head or feet.
Let’s review what we know when your cat is eating shrimp.
- Your cat will love it, but don’t overfeed. If your cat becomes too accustomed to eating shrimp they may become finicky and turn down their regular food.
- Watch for allergies or an inability to digest the shrimp by giving very small amounts, to begin with.
- Remember, shrimp has a lot of cholesterol and a lot of sodium. Neither is good for the animal’s heart and the high sodium could lead to diabetes.
- Make sure you only give clean shrimp – no spices or sauces. When feeding leftover restaurant shrimp, rinse it thoroughly to rid it of spices used in cooking or serving it.
- There are many benefits to your cat from eating shrimp including anti-inflammatory and antioxidants for the muscles, bones and nervous system. Shrimp can help to keep diabetes and colon cancer at bay.
- Shrimp is full of nutrients and vitamins including Vitamins B23, B6, E, and B12.
- Also, shrimp has Omega 3 fatty acids, essential minerals such as Selenium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Iodine, and Copper.
- Be careful with Selenium as toxicity is reached at lower levels than you might think, and it can cause some serious health issues.
For the most part, it is easy to see that when you ask or are asked, “Can cats eat shrimp?”, with a few exceptions, the answer is a resounding yes.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to feeding shrimp to your cat is moderation.
Victoria Nelson is a lifelong animal lover. She grew up in a small farm with a wide variety of pets that included dogs, cats, cows, fish etc. A published author since 18, she loves writing, and nothing makes her happier than writing about animals and sharing useful animal care tips.