Mmmm… Are you a liver and onions kind of person? I’m not either. But it’s a safe bet that your cat probably loves liver, and that’s why there are so many liver flavored cat food on the store shelves.
But, is liver actually good for cats? Before you go and give your cats fresh liver, let’s look at this question. The answer might surprise you.
In this article we’ll cover the following;
- Cats and Liver, What You Need to Know
- Can Cats Eat Liver?
- Can Kittens Eat Liver?
- Benefits/Drawbacks to Cats Eating Liver
- Healthy Alternatives to Liver
Cats and Liver, What You Need to Know
Generally, when we talk about meat, we’re referring to the muscle tissue of an animal. As liver is an organ, technically it’s not a meat. However, you may hear liver referred to as “organ meat,” especially when talking about it as part of a human diet.
In human diets, it is recognized that liver is rich in B-vitamins, like vitamin B12 and folate, minerals, including iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc, crucial fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K, and is a good source of protein.
On the other hand, there is also concern that liver contains excessive amounts of saturated fats, potentially toxic levels of vitamin A, and many toxins and heavy metals associated with the liver’s role as the filter for the body.
Because of this, whether you should feed your cat liver is not a straight forward question.
Can Cats Eat Liver?
As the video below shows, some people even forego liver flavored cat food and just give their cats fresh liver, and the cats seem love it.
However, because of its potential toxicity, liver should only be given to cats in small amounts.
Further, raw liver can be contaminated with bacteria, such as Salmonella. That is why liver must be fully cooked, as the bacteria are destroyed from the heat of properly cooking the liver.
Can Kittens Eat Liver?
Kittens tend to be even more susceptible than adult cats to most things because they are tiny and have not yet fully developed their immune systems. Toxins and bacteria found in raw liver are even more likely to make a kitten sick than an adult cat.
If you are determined to feed liver to your kitten, it should be cooked first and given only in small amounts, and then, only as a special treat.
Benefits/Drawbacks to Cats Eating Liver
As we saw, liver is packed with nutrients and proteins. In small amounts, cooked liver could be a nutritious supplement to a cat’s regular diet.
However, raw liver does pose a risk of Salmonella poisoning to cats. While Salmonella does not seem to affect cats as severely as humans, they can still suffer from a variety of symptoms when sickened by the bacteria, including:
- high fever
- lack of appetite
- abdominal pain
In severe cases life-threatening septicaemia and endotoxemia may develop and in rare cases the infection may spread to different organs causing pneumonia, meningitis and abortion.
Another risk in feeding liver to cats is the potential for Vitamin A toxicity. Liver contains relatively high levels of Vitamin A, depending on the species of animal it is from. It relatively well known that a number of early arctic explorers were poisoned by eating polar bear liver when they ran out of other food to eat.
Cats are susceptible to Vitamin A poisoning suffering from symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Rough hair coat
- Abnormal sitting posture
- Skin allergies
Of particular concern are dietary supplements, such as those containing cod liver oil. Because of all the risks, cats’ intake of liver should be limited.
Healthy Alternatives to Liver
Adult cats are fine to have a little bit of cooked liver from time to time. But, with all of the great options out there, why not try a cat food that contains liver? Many of these products have been tried and reviewed by thousands of cat owners. With a little research, you can find a cat food or liver flavored treat that is safe, and that your cat will love.
For kittens, there are many safe liver favored kitten food and treats. Why risk your kitten’s health when there are so many quality products available?
So, Can Cats Eat Liver?
Well, now we know that cats can eat liver. However, it should be only be given in limited quantities and we learned you should never feed raw liver to your cat or kitten because bacteria that are often present can make your kitty pretty sick.
If you’re also wondering if cats can eat ham, you can find out by clicking here.
Do you have a furry friend who enjoys liver? Have you had experience with your cat trying liver flavored cat food or treats, and did they like it? Please tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.