Can cats eat chicken liver?
Yes, chicken liver is safe for cats to eat in moderation, but must only make up a small percentage of your cat’s diet — 5 % at most per week. Liver contains many nutrients which are essential to good health. However, the liver stores vitamin A and cats who consumes moderate to large amounts are at risk of vitamin A toxicosis. This is a slow and progressive disease which can take months to develop, in some cases, irreversible damage has occurred.
Another risk factor is that liver is highly palatable to cats, and some can quickly become addicted to it and start to refuse other types of food. Aside from the dangers of vitamin A toxicosis, liver is not nutritionally balanced or complete. Cats who stop eating are at risk of hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), a life-threatening disease which occurs when cats (especially those who are overweight) go without food for several days. The body sends fat to the liver as an alternate source, which overwhelms its ability to function.
Benefits of chicken liver for cats
Chicken livers contain several nutrients, which include iron, folic acid, vitamins A, B, C and D, copper and protein.
Raw or cooked chicken liver for cats?
Cats can eat chicken liver either raw or cooked; on its own or mixed in with other meat such as beef chunks.
Cooked chicken livers:
- Wash livers and remove any fat
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the livers
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked
- Drain and place on a plate until the livers have stopped steaming
- Transfer to a suitable container
Cooked chicken livers can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.
What about other chicken pieces?
Cats can eat chicken breast, thighs and necks. The meat can be fed raw or cooked.
Cooked chicken is highly palatable to cats, and I have used it myself to encourage a sick cat to eat.
Veterinarians will sometimes prescribe a bland diet for a cat who is recovering from an illness or surgery, particularly relating to his gastrointestinal tract. Boiled chicken breast is usually recommended as it is bland, easy to digest and most cats love it.
Chicken necks are great for your cat’s dental hygiene. I give my cats necks 2-3 mornings a week. Never give your cat cooked chicken bones, including necks. Cooked chicken bones become very dry and brittle and can easily splinter inside your cat’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract.
Remove uneaten meat after 20 minutes and don’t feed anything that you wouldn’t eat yourself if it’s too old for you, it’s too old for your cat.
How to cook chicken for your cat
Chicken can be boiled, steamed or cooked in the oven. Do not add seasoning or herbs to the meat. Cook the chicken whole or cut up into pieces. Chicken that is whole will take longer to cook than chopped chicken.
Bring a pot of water to the boil (just enough water to cook the chicken), add chicken, reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through. When feeding boiled chicken, you can add a little of the pan water to his food bowl along with the cooked chicken.
Bring a pot of water to the boil, place chicken in a steamer, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked.
Preheat oven to 180-200C, line a baking dish with baking paper, add chicken, bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked.
Once cooked, allow cooling for a few minutes.
I have given my own cats leftovers from a roast chicken, but make sure it isn’t overly seasoned and remove all bones. I don’t recommend feeding your cat fried chicken.
Can I feed other types of liver to my cat?
Yes, you can also feed beef or lamb liver to your cat, but the same rules apply. There appears to be no research which states how much liver is too much, as a rule of thumb, a cat’s diet should be made up of 90-95% nutritionally balanced food and no more than 5-10% other foods.
Frequently asked questions
Is chicken liver good for cats?
Chicken liver is good for cats in small quantities, but too much chicken liver can cause vitamin A toxicosis.
Can cats eat raw chicken liver?
Chicken liver can be raw or cooked.
How much chicken (or other) liver can a cat eat?
The cat’s diet should not contain more than 5-10% liver.
Most cats are fed twice a day, therefore each meal represents 7% of their weekly intake (100% / 14 meals a week = 7%). Therefore feed one meal of liver a maximum of once per week, or feed a smaller amount more often but mixed in with nutritionally balanced and complete cat food.
Chicken liver for cats with kidney disease
Chronic conditions such as kidney disease are often be managed with a prescription diet, any additional types of food may reduce the effectiveness. If your cat has an underlying medical condition, always check with the veterinarian before feeding chicken liver or any other type of food not prescribed by the veterinarian.