Last Updated on January 1, 2021 by Julia Wilson
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. But, can cats eat raw chicken and what should you do if your cat eats some?
Is raw chicken safe for cats?
Most cats can safely eat raw chicken, however, as raw meat contains pathogens, consuming it can come with risks. The most common pathogens (disease-causing organisms) in raw chicken meat 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 their stools or saliva. Campylobacter is much the same, most cats will remain asymptomatic.
A large amount of raw chicken is not nutritionally complete or balanced and therefore is not recommended. A commercially prepared diet which 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, 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 raw chicken?
Most cats can safely eat raw chicken. It is always recommended you speak to your cat’s veterinarian before feeding raw chicken. With so many conflicting views on raw diets, the cat’s veterinarian, who has your cat’s medical history is the best person to offer advice on the safety of raw meats.
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 chicken bones?
There is a lot of differing opinion regarding feeding chicken bones. One thing everyone agrees on is that cooked chicken bones are a no-no as they are too brittle and can cause gastrointestinal trauma.
Some veterinarians recommend raw chicken wing tips or necks once or twice a week for dental hygene. This is a conversation you should have with your own veterinarian.
What should I do if my cat has eaten cooked chicken bones?
Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Related: Chicken liver for cats?