Cats can and will get into human food if given the opportunity which can have serious consequences if they eat the wrong food. Raw chicken left out to defrost is an appealing snack to most cats while humans naturally baulk at the idea.
Can cats eat raw chicken?
Most cats can eat raw chicken, however, as raw meat contains pathogens, consuming it can come with risks. The main consideration for cats eating raw chicken is the risk of pathogens (disease-causing organisms) are salmonella and campylobacter. Cats are better able to tolerate raw meat than people because they have a shorter gastrointestinal tract; which means meat passes through the cat faster. Cats also secrete high levels of stomach acid which breaks down protein and kills bacteria.
Salmonellosis is uncommon in healthy cats, young cats, seniors, stressed and sick cats with weakened immune systems are most at risk. It is possible for a cat to be subclinical, which means the cat is infected and can shed the bacteria in its stools or saliva. Campylobacter is much the same, most cats will remain asymptomatic.
While chicken contains a number of nutrients including protein and amino acids, a large amount of raw chicken is not nutritionally complete or balanced and therefore is not recommended as a major part of the cat’s diet. A commercially prepared cat food that meets AAFCO standards is recommended for all cats.
What should you do if your cat eats raw chicken?
In most cases, a small amount of fresh, raw chicken won’t harm your cat and therefore a wait and see approach is indicated. Observe the cat over the next few hours and days for common symptoms associated with foodborne illness including diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. If the cat displays any of the symptoms listed, consult your veterinarian.
If you are concerned the cat may have a subclinical infection and potentially infect members of the household, a veterinarian can perform a culture on a fecal sample to look for the presence of bacteria.
While many cat owners feed raw chicken meat and necks to cats, not everybody is comfortable with their cat eating raw meat, especially chicken.
Defrost frozen chicken in the fridge, not only does this eliminate the chances of a cat accessing it, but it is also safer than defrosting at room temperature.
Throw away food scraps in the outside garbage.
Pack away shopping as soon as you arrive home.
Keep a close eye on food that is cooking, some cats can and will steal food from c0untertops and pans.
Frequently asked questions
Can cats eat cooked chicken?
Yes, cats can safely eat cooked chicken as a treat, however, it is not complete and balanced and therefore should not be the main food source as it is not complete and balanced.
Can cats eat raw chicken bones?
There is a lot of differing opinion regarding feeding chicken bones. One thing everyone agrees on is that cooked bones are too brittle and can cause gastrointestinal trauma so should not be given to cats.
Some veterinarians recommend chicken necks or raw bones once or twice a week for dental hygiene. This is a conversation you should have with your own veterinarian.
Can cats eat cooked chicken?
Cats can safely eat cooked chicken as long as it has not passed its use-by date and remove bones that can splinter and cause damage to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.
Which part of the raw chicken can cats eat?
Cats can eat the breast, wings, drumsticks, liver, heart and necks.
What should I do if my cat has eaten cooked chicken bones?
Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Can cats eat chicken nuggets?
Chicken nuggets aren’t an ideal food for cats as they contain high levels of seasoning and fat which can cause GI upset. If the cat pinches a nugget, it’s unlikely to harm the cat, but there are safer foods to feed a cat than chicken nuggets.
Can I give my cat chicken every day?
All cats require complete and balanced cat food, if the chicken is a part of that diet then it is safe to feed it daily. However, some cats can become bored with the same type of food daily.
Can a cat live on chicken alone?
No, chicken alone is not complete and balanced.
Are chicken hearts good for cats?
Chicken hearts contain folate, iron, zinc, B2, B6, B12 and selenium and are a healthy snack for cats, but in moderation.
At what age is chicken safe for cats?
Cats can eat a small amount of cooked chicken from the time they wean.
Related: Chicken liver for cats?