Sushi was not developed as a dish but as a preservation method for fish using fermentation and rice. Today, there are more than 10 types of sushi including; nigiri, sashimi, temaki, maki, etc., with regional variations of each. Sushi is not just a food but is also considered an art form that requires skill, precision, and attention to detail. Fresh fish, seaweed, and rice which form the base of sushi provide multiple health benefits.
Can cats eat Sushi?
‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Sushi is generally made with raw fish which contains thiaminase, a compound that can break down thiamine, an essential Vitamin B for cats. Cats with a thiamine deficiency can experience neurological issues, including convulsions. Never give your cat sushi that contains raw fish, but if the fish has been baked or steamed without any seasonings, then yes, your cat can enjoy a piece of sushi.
Do Cats like Sushi?
Cats are active hunters and will generally be interested in any raw meat because of the scent. So don't be surprised if your cat comes to investigate your sushi, just make sure they don't grab a roll that contains raw fish.
The Nutritional Value of Sushi
Let's break down the ingredients of sushi and the nutritional value of each.
Fish: Fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, which are commonly used in sushi, are excellent sources of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fish support heart health and brain function.
Seaweed (Nori): Seaweed used in sushi can provide essential minerals such as iodine, calcium, and iron. It also contains fiber and antioxidants.
Sushi Rice: Sushi rice is a good source of carbohydrates and provides energy. It also contains small amounts of protein and B vitamins.
Vegetables: Vegetables like cucumber, avocado, and carrots, which are often used in sushi, can provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Wasabi and Ginger: Wasabi and pickled ginger, which are commonly served with sushi, contain antimicrobial properties, aid in digestion, and have anti-inflammatory effects. But wasabi is not safe to feed your cat, so make sure to keep it out of their reach.
Health Benefits of Sushi for Cats
Sushi contains proteins that are essential for energy and muscle growth in cats. Apart from that, there are no major health benefits cats can get from eating sushi. This is because a cat’s digestive system is not the same as ours. It is made primarily for digesting meat and related products and not vegetables, fruits, or grains.
Risks of Sushi for Cats
The potential health risks of feeding sushi to cats include -
Raw Fish: Sushi often contains raw fish, which can contain parasites and bacteria that may be harmful to cats and humans.
Seasonings and Ingredients: Ingredients such as soy sauce, wasabi, and rice vinegar are not suitable for a cat's digestive system.
Rice: Sticky rice in sushi may not provide significant nutritional value to a cat's diet. Sushi rice is bleached and stripped of its nutrients and the carbs it offers are not required in a cat's diet. This makes it little more than empty calories that will quickly turn into sugar in your pet’s digestive system causing weight gain if eaten in excessive quantities. Read this article for tips on weight management for pets.
High Sodium Content: Some types of sushi, especially those with soy sauce or other salty seasonings, can have a high sodium content, which is not ideal for a cat's health. Cats can suffer from sodium poisoning which can lead to dehydration, and in severe cases, kidney failure.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Sushi
If you suspect that your cat has eaten a lot of sushi, here are a few tips on what to do:
Monitor Your Cat: Look for symptoms of an upset stomach such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or changes in appetite. These signs can indicate that your cat did ingest something they shouldn't have.
Contact a Veterinarian: You should contact a veterinarian immediately, describe the situation, and provide details about the type of sushi and the ingredients your cat may have consumed.
Avoid Home Remedies: Home remedies like forcing vomiting without consulting a veterinarian first should be avoided. Some foods and substances can be harmful if vomited back up, and home remedies may not be appropriate then.
Provide Information: When seeking veterinary advice, be prepared to provide information about the type of sushi, specific ingredients, and portion size that your cat may have ingested. Also, try to provide info about the source of the ingredients as it can help your vet assess the chances of complications due to added preservatives.
How to Feed Sushi to Cats Safely
While some ingredients are not suitable for your cat’s system, some can be safely fed to your cat. These include –
Shrimp – Shrimp are a great snack for pets. It's non-toxic and they tend to love the texture.
Avocado – Avocado is an ingredient that many people use in sushi, and it is completely safe to give to your cat. Just remember to remove the skin and seed and cut it into small pieces before feeding it to them.
Seaweed – Seaweed is another safe ingredient to feed your cat.
Cucumber – Another popular ingredient in sushi is cucumber. Cucumbers are safe for your cat to eat, just make sure to slice them into bite-sized pieces to make digestion easier.
If you want to feed sushi to your cat, make sure it is a simple roll with cooked, unseasoned fish, and no wasabi or soy sauce. Keep in mind that sushi should never make up a large part of your cat's diet. Stick to one or two rolls at a time, and only feed it to them on occasion. If you want to stick to nutritionally beneficial treats for your pet, take a look at these diy pet treats.
"Can Cats Eat Sushi?" Catster, https://www.catster.com/guides/can-cats-eat-sushi, Nov. 16, 2024.
"Foods You Should Never Feed Your Cat," Chantilly Animal Hospital, https://www.chantillyanimalhospital.com/blog/foods-you-should-never-feed-your-cat, accessed Dec. 30, 2024.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.