The truth about feeding canned chicken to cats

Providing the best available cat foods to our beloved furry ball is a permanent wish for almost any cat parent. Sometimes, there are exceptional times we try to test other food choices. During these thoughts, canned chicken can be a considerable choice in your mind. Well is it really okay?

Can cats eat canned chicken? Yes, they can. But, not as a daily meal similar to your specially designed cat food items in the kitchen.

Are there any precautions?

The most important question is, Is it safe to eat canned chicken?

Based on the finding (through other cat parents, research journals, forums, and vets..etc) that I have done in previous days, it turns out to be safe for most cats.

I have mentioned it as most cats. Right?

Ah, that means there is a catch. Well, yes, it is not suitable for some cats. There can be side effects or allergies.

Some canned chicken tends to use sodium to increase water content, hence increasing the weight. Mostly, you can have an idea about the sodium amount by reading the label of the chicken can. It is better if you can avoid these type canned chickens.

What happened if you overfeed canned chicken to your cat?

Definitely, there are problems with overfeeding canned chicken to your cat. Remember, canned chicken is not designed for cats. It’s for humans.

Reduced moisture amount

Canned chicken lacks moisture content, and it can be a concerning matter if you tend to feed them as a meal.

Cats or kittens are famous not to drink much water. Usually, they take water through their food.  Feeding wet cat food is the best way to keep them hydrated.

So, providing only canned chicken or any other canned food without much moisture content can trigger the following health issues.

Dehydration can be caused due to many reasons. Body overheating, lack of clean water, underline illness. So, providing only canned chicken can accelerate any of the above issues too. 

The health specialists say that a cat needs 3.4 – 4.5 ounce of water per 5 pounds of body weight. This is only for a day. As I mentioned earlier, the problem is, cats do not drink much on their own.

According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, one of the best ways to produce this moisture requirement is through wet cat foods (it’s about 70-80% water). (best way to provide wet cat food while away)So do not forget that canned food cannot produce this moisture requirement. 

Can cats eat canned meat?

Well, it appears, you can give canned meat to your cat. Here, I’m not refereeing to canned meat, which is specially designed to give cats. That’s obvious; there are good to give.

I’m talking about the canned meat that designed for the usage of humans.

Since cats are carnivores, there isn’t any problem with the meat products. It’s really good for their protein needs. So giving canned meat is a good option.

However, you need to be careful about raw meat

Raw meat is kind of a tricky option. It could trigger several health issues if they have harmful bacterial like E. coli, salmonella, or listeria.

Canned meat has an advantage over the raw meat. Since it is already gone through a well-cleaned process before packing, the ability to get sick from bacterial is minimum.

raw chicken from can

But, do not forget to check the expiring date before serving your cat. Expired food can hurt your cat more than raw meat.

Canned chicken compounds?

Chicken has a quality nutrition profile. Mostly it is enriched with protein. A great ingredient to make your cat fat and fluffy.

The following table was derived from the data of USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Nutrient Profile Whole Chicken (meat only) Whole Chicken, (meat and skin)
Calories 119 215
Protein (grams) 21.4 18.7
Total fat (grams) 3.1 15.1
Saturated fat (grams) 0.8 4.3
Monounsaturated fat (grams) 0.9 6.2
Polyunsaturated fat (grams) 0.8 3.2
Cholesterol (milligrams) 70 75
Sodium (milligrams) 77 75
Iron (milligrams) 0.9 0.9

The above values are for uncooked chicken only. Those values could be changed if you cook your canned chicken.

Different types of canned chicken available in the market

There are several types of canned chickens available in the market. I think it is better to have a clear idea about these types and their properties too.

  1. Raw Chicken – Some buyers do not like cooked chicken. So, this is a choice for them. These canned chicken are relatively good in quality and freshness. However, they do contain salt, which used to preservation. This can be cause to trigger thirsty of your cat. So, it is better to keep your water bowl fresh and nearby.
  2. Half-Cooked – Since cooking chicken is somewhat take time, these solutions were introduced into the market. Using semi cooked, canned chicken, a person can reduce cooking time.
  3. Fully Cooked – This is the ready-made version. Already fully cooked and you can use it by just heating up. But, be careful to check the inside ingredients. If it contains any oil, garlic.etc, then do not give this to your cat. It’s not just chicken.
  4. Gluten Free Canned Chicken – These days, there is a trend for gluten free canned meat for human. But this one goes for cats too. Gluten is often used as a substitute for high-quality protein source. For obvious reason, saving money. But there are some health problems seems to be associated with it. So, selecting a gluten free canned chicken can be good for both you and your furr ball.

Beneficial of chicken as a meal for cats

Surprisingly, there are tiny amounts of vitamins and minerals in chickens. Further, it is filled with nutrients like selenium, vitamin B6 and phosphorus.

Even though these are small amounts, it can improve your cat’s immune systems and muscle build-up.

Moreover, it is not only good for maintaining weight, but improve the bone and teeth health. 

chicken cooking for cats
image credit: torbakhopper

Other than above mention nutritious, chicken breast has taurine, which helps cats overall health. Taurine is a big player when it comes to cats’ health.

All above-mentioned ingredients and nutritious are really beneficial for cat’s life.

Anyway, I think providing canned chicken it appropriate for adult cats rather than kittens or older cats who do not have strong immune systems.

If you like to check our article about best cat foods which good for older cats who vomit, click here.

The proper way of giving canned chicken to your cat

So, if you are determined to give canned chicken, then its better if you know the proper way to do so.

Most important thing is, giving small amount. Similar to treats.

Remember to give your canned chickens just as it is. That means without any oils or seasoning. These kind of additions can be harmful to your cat.

One of the proper way is boiling chicken parts thoroughly. Remember not to give fat trimmings. It can be lead to pancreatitis.

If you decide to cook them, then DO NOT cook with ONIONS or GARLIC. These ingredients are considered toxic to cats.

By the way, remember, never to feed expired chicken products to your cat.

Canned chicken feeding related common problems

While looking over the problems associated with canned chicken, I have found these questions quite frequently.

Therefore, I like to add a brief answer for them to help your cat knowledge. 

Can I feed my cat chicken everyday ?

No, you cannot. I, strongly advised not to do this. As I mentioned in my earlier explanations, continuous feeding, or else everyday feeding of canned chicken can cause moisture problems.

Not only that, this can cause to limit certain nutritious for your cat. Canned chicken is not a balanced food for your cat. Just use it as a treat or occasional meal.

Can cats eat canned chicken breast?

Yes, cats can eat canned chicken breast. It is a good source of protein and the most enriched part respect to other meat parts.

According to The Nutritional Value of Chicken from National Chicken Council, chicken breast contains ~30 grams of protein in cooked portion size of 3-1/2 oz. Similarly, ~20 grams of protein in cooked portion size of 3-1/2 oz

Can cats eat canned chicken for humans?

Yes, they can—no doubt of that.

But that does not mean that you can provide canned chicken as a usual meal for every day. Since these canned chickens are made for humans, they lack several properties that should be in cat food.

Further, these are not a balanced meal for a cat. Just use it occasionally.

Can cats eat canned chicken broth?

Chicken broth can be salty. Feeding salty food can be a big problem since cats are not good at drinking water regularly. This can be cause to imbalance of electrolyte balance in cat’s body.

Further, commercial chicken broth is not recommended at all. It contains garlic, sodium, onion, and other items that potentially harm your cat.

Final Thoughts

After looking through most of the reports, experience, and recommendations from the experts, it seems that canned chickens are good food for your cat. Anyway, it’s better to use it by knowing the proper way to do so. Therefore, it will reduce any side effects that cat be happened due to overfeeding.

The article is reviewed by our editorial team based on our editorial policy and approved for the publication. 


Amelia Kteylor

Amelia Kteylor, DVM, attended the University of Georgia. She is a cat expert with 20 years of experiences in field. She has a passion as a writer and editor for pet publishing industry too. Amelia contributes to numerous pet magazines in the areas of pet health and groom. Further, she volunteered in cat rescue centers in her leisure time.

Recent Posts