Can Cats Eat Shrimp?

Cooked shrimp
credit: nixki/iStock/GettyImages

It's not outrageous to assume that cats would love shrimp because of their association with eating fish. Cats may enjoy the taste of shrimp and fish, but does that mean it's okay for them to eat?

The answer is yes! Shrimp is okay for cats to eat, but there are some details to consider.

When is shrimp safe for cats?

Shrimp is a flavorful, low-calorie snack that is high in protein. Not only can cats safely eat shrimp, many respond well to both its scent and flavor. While it does contain nutrients and antioxidants like selenium, B12, and omega-3, shrimp is not a recommended meal substitute. Shrimp is just an occasional, delicious treat because it's high in sodium and cholesterol, which can both lead to weight gain, bloat, and other health issues for your furry friend.

Is raw or cooked shrimp best?

We recommend serving your cat wild-caught shrimp that has been cooked without any seasonings, fat, or oil. Raw shrimp can be safe for cats to eat, but according to Seafood Watch, farm-raised shrimp is frequently fraudulently sold as wild. Shrimp farms often use antibiotics, fungicides, and other potentially-toxic chemicals that are typically destroyed when cooked.

On the other hand, spices and oils used during the cooking process can also cause health problems for your cat. So be sure to plainly cook any shrimp you serve to your cat (or use high-quality raw shrimp).

How should I serve shrimp to my cat?

When serving shrimp to your cat, you want to make sure that you only give them a small portion, according to their size. A large breed of house cat (around 12-15 pounds) may be able to fully digest a single jumbo-sized shrimp, but small and mid-sized breeds (5-10 pounds) should stick to a half or a single regular-sized shrimp.

Remove the vein, head, and tail before thoroughly washing and cooking the shrimp for your cat. The digestive tract of the shrimp contains whatever the shrimp has consumed before it was caught — and it's best to avoid any potentially hazardous chemicals that may be present. The easiest way to clean the digestive tract is to butterfly the shrimp. You can also rip it out wholly.

Conclusion

Shrimp is a protein-rich, occasional treat for your cat. We recommend serving your cat plain-cooked shrimp or fresh, wild-caught raw shrimp. Shrimp should aways be cleaned before serving, and never feed your cat too much shrimp (about half a piece) in a single serving.