Feeding

Can cats eat raw chicken?

Raw chicken

Can cats eat raw chicken? Is raw chicken safe for cats to eat? What’s the best way to feed cats raw chicken? Or are you panicking because your cat ate raw chicken?!

Maybe your cat is clawing at your legs when you’re preparing raw chicken, or you’ve run out of cat food. Our guide answers the benefits and risks of cats eating raw chicken, but also gives you tips to ensure that your cat stays healthy and safe.

Can cats eat raw chicken?

In the wild, cats are predators and catch their own food. You may have seen your own furry friend hunting for animals such as birds and mice and bring them home to you as presents… or their feast. So is eating raw chicken any different?

Cats are strict carnivores in their natural habitats, meaning that they can eat raw meat. Therefore, it is safe for cats to eat fresh raw chicken. You simply have to be sure that the meat is fresh and salmonella free. Read on for information about different types of raw chicken.

Their natural diet when eating raw meat is high in protein, moderate in fat and also includes a small number of carbohydrates. Thus, cats are adapted to eat raw meat, organs and even bones from animals they catch.

When a cat catches a bird or small rodent, they pretty much eat the whole thing! Their digestive tract is short and acidic, meaning that raw meat can be digested in around 12 hours, not giving bacteria enough time to grow. Thus, preventing food poisoning.

Here’s a video of a cat eating a whole raw chicken. Skip to the end to see how much raw chicken this little black cat managed to swallow up!

Health considerations

There’s more to it than just saying make sure it’s fresh raw chicken. For example, domestic cats have adapted over time, making commercial diets a preferred and more ideal source of protein and nutrients.

There are many health benefits and risks associated with cats eating raw chicken. We’ve summarised the risks and precautions you should take before giving your feline friend a piece of your poultry.

Health benefits of raw chicken

Are there benefits of cats eating raw chicken?

Cheap commercial diets can contain a lot of filler ingredients that no sane person has ever heard of. Whereas, with raw food, you can avoid preservatives and additives that pet companies add to make some extra dollars because you know exactly what you’re feeding your cat.

Cats need amino acids to stay healthy, and there are plenty of those in animal protein contained in raw chicken. Further to this, raw chicken is low in carbs (unlike plant-based food), meaning that it won’t cause weight gain or digestive problems for your cats.

Vets also say that cats eating raw chicken may also see improved hydration, as raw chicken contains more fluids than dry cat food. Aside from hydration, a well researched and prepared raw diet can also ensure that your cat will consume well-balanced meals with the right quantities of micronutrients required for a healthy cat diet.

Raw foods have also been proven to improve cats’ immunity from diseases and result in much more predictable behavior. Who would have thought that some raw chicken would be the solution to a crazy cat?!

On the other hand, feeding a cat raw chicken or other raw meat also comes with many drawbacks…

Health risks of raw chicken

Every cat owner wants to ensure that their cat is healthy and well-fed. Chicken isn’t as bad as some other foods that cats typically don’t consume, such as chocolate or grapes. However, it’s also not the best source of protein.

Although cats are carnivores and raw chicken is safe for cats to consume, it’s strongly unrecommended to feed your cat raw chicken on a daily basis.

In fact, numerous studies warn that raw chicken is the source of many bacterial infections. One such study, even showed that one cat died from salmonella as a result of consuming raw chicken. A more recent study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded that 3.8% of young chicken samples that the USDA tested were contaminated by salmonella.

Although farmers and companies have been taking extensive measures to reduce the occurrence of salmonella in raw chicken, the risk is still there.

Amino acids in chicken

Cats require taurine, arginine, methionine, and cysteine for their bodies to function properly.

Raw chicken isn’t as nutrient and vitamin-rich as high-quality cat food. It lacks an amino acid called taurine, which cats need to keep them healthy from various problems such as hair loss and reproductive issues.

Salmonella

Contrary to earlier advice, cats can actually develop food poisoning from eating raw chicken. Despite a shorter digestive tract and strong acids, this doesn’t make all cats 100% immune from pathogens such as salmonella. For example, salmonellosis in cats is an infection that can be caused by cats eating raw chicken.

Symptoms of salmonellosis include:

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • vomiting

Your furry friend is also likely to come across as tired and may show signs of rapid weight loss. If this happens, you should consult a local vet immediately.

Salmonellosis in kittens and older cats

Kittens and older cats are at increased risk of salmonellosis as a result of their undeveloped or poorer immune systems.

Listeria

Other diseases that may occur as a result of a cat eating raw meat include listeria.

Listeria is an infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes (a bacterium) and is often found in cattle and poultry meat, as well as water and soil.

Symptoms of listeria are:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • tiredness

If untreated, Listeria can lead to the affected cat’s death.

Tips for safely feeding raw chicken to cats

If you’re worried about any of the above-mentioned risks, such as salmonellosis or listeria when feeding your cat or cats raw chicken, you can always cook the meat first.

Of course, just like humans, different cats prefer different foods. However, cooking raw meat doesn’t only kill potentially lethal bacteria, but also makes the chicken tastier for your cat. You can also add some oil, rice or small quantities of plain cheese if your cat is into that sort of thing.

Overall, we strongly recommend that your cat is fed cooked chicken rather than raw. Not only will this mean that your cat isn’t placed at risk, but it will also mean that as the cat gets older and their immune system gets weaker, you won’t have to remove their favorite meal or treat from their diet.

If you still want to try feeding your cat raw chicken, be sure to take out any smaller or sharp bones. It would also be best if you only made raw chicken a treat, rather than a meal. Keeping to only small portions of raw chicken will help minimize the risks of your cat becoming ill.

You should also remember that chicken sold in commercial stores is intended for cooking. It would have been prepared and washed in chemicals such as water. To keep your cat safe, purchase chicken that’s intended for raw consumption by cats. If you can, look to a local butcher or farm for local fresh poultry – you’ll be getting fresh meat and will support a local business.

Other solutions are to purchase frozen raw chicken diets that are designed and pre-prepared by pet companies. Such meals will be salmonella free and safe for your cat to consume.

Other cat chicken feeding questions

Can cats eat raw chicken bones?

We told you that you can feed a cat raw chicken in small quantities and as long as it’s prepared correctly. However, can you feed cats raw chicken bones?

Many vets and experts recommend that care are allowed to carefully chew breakable bones for dental health and mental stimulation. After all, bones provide some nutritional value and contain a lot of calcium.

Some experts explain that raw bones are better than cooked bones because cooked bones will splinter inside your cat’s digestive system. At this time, there are no digestive studies to confirm this.

Whether you feed your cat cooked or raw bones, observe your cat carefully to make sure that they’re safe, and monitor your cats next bowel movements. If you notice blood or your kitty has trouble with digestion, vomiting, gas or any other issue, consult a local vet and do not feed them bones again.

Can cats eat raw chicken necks?

Chicken necks contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. They’re particularly high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. They’re an ideal treat that your cat can chew on, but please watch your cat and make sure that he or she doesn’t have trouble with chewing or digesting a chicken neck.

Can cats eat raw chicken liver?

Humans eat chicken liver, so can cats eat it too?

Raw chicken liver is high in nutrients; more so than other raw meat. It’s also a great source of protein, calcium vitamin B, iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and other necessary and wanted nutrients.

Keep in mind that you should only feed your cat raw chicken liver in small quantities. Otherwise, you risk giving your cat diarrhea. You have been warned!

Can kittens eat raw chicken?

If the big cats are allowed, is it also safe for kittens to eat raw chicken?

The answer is, yes. It’s ok to feed your kitten raw chicken. However, just like with adult cats, you must feed them in small quantities or even better, cooked.

When feeding your kitten raw chicken, it’s also strongly advisable that you debone the chicken and feed the chicken in smaller pieces than you would an adult cat.

As with the adult cat section of this article, the main concern about feeding cats raw chicken is that they are not rich in the right nutrients for cats, especially kittens.

A kitten will need a well-balanced diet with all of the vitamins and proteins necessary for proper growth and development. Your kitten’s vet can help you come up with a raw diet for your kitten, but it would be advisable to stick with high-quality cat food that contains everything that your kitty needs to grow into a majestic and healthy cat.

My cat ate raw chicken (or licked). What should I do?

Leaving raw chicken unattended can be particularly dangerous for a cat. The meat is not prepared for a cat’s consumption and may be infected with salmonella or another bacterium.

If your cat ate raw chicken, watch your cat for symptoms of sickness, such as:

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting

Salmonellosis, which is caused by salmonella, can be fatal. Salmonellosis can also be passed onto humans, so be sure to consult a vet and doctor as soon as you’re aware that your cat ate raw chicken or other meat.

About the author

Kacper Jednorowicz

Hi, I'm Kacper! I have a four-year-old female Bengal cat, called Coco. She's an active and friendly indoor cat that lives with us in the UK, but also enjoys several hours a day in the garden. Just like any responsible and loving cat owner, I want to ensure that she's a happy and healthy cat! My articles cover guides and reviews based on professional vet advice, our own experiences with Coco and plenty of research!

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