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Can Cats Eat Sardines? (Quick Answer)

David Fields
Last Updated on
by David Fields

If you have a cat and ever eat sardines, you know how much felines beg for these little fishes. With all the meowing you’re bound to hear, you’ll want to know whether cats can eat sardines.

So, can cats eat sardines? Yes, you can give your cat a limited number of sardines as a treat. They are full of beneficial proteins that cats need. You shouldn’t give them to your pet all the time, though. Make sure to give your cat sardines packed in water.

Avoid giving your cat sardines packed in sauce or brine. You should also avoid most kinds of oil, but occasional olive oil is acceptable. Never give your cat sardines packed in soybean oil. That kind of oil is harmful to felines.

Cat Eat Sardines
Cat Eat Sardines

Are Sardines Good for Cats?

As long as you avoid sardines packed in brine, soybean oil, or sauce, sardines can be a healthy treat for cats.

One of the strengths of sardines is their high protein content. Other nutrients these fish offers include beneficial fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins.

Benefits of Protein

As obligate carnivores, felines need plenty of protein. Obligate carnivore means that the animal must eat meat. Fish is included in this category.

As cats must have high levels of meat and fish-sourced protein, the protein in sardines is very beneficial.

You can use them as one of several protein sources to keep your feline friend healthy.

Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The essential fatty acids in sardines have multiple benefits. They’ll give your cat a glossy coat and will improve skin health. Three ounces of sardines offer two grams of omega-3 fatty acids.

Additionally, the soft bones in sardines (that cats and we have no problem chewing and swallowing), are full of calcium. The calcium included in the sardines can help strengthen your cat’s bones.

Omega-3 fatty acids will help counteract any inflammation in your cat’s body. That is because of their anti-inflammatory effects.

These fatty acids will also benefit your cat’s heart health. It can protect against the danger of blood clots and can stop your pet from developing an irregular heartbeat.

The omega-3 fatty acids in sardines (and other sources) can also support good kidney health. Good kidney health is crucial in cats, as felines are prone to developing the disease.

Vitamins and Minerals in Sardines

Sardines are rich in minerals and vitamins, such as:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 


Cats are like humans. We both need calcium for healthy teeth and bones.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for many aspects of health in felines. For example, they need vitamin D for healthy bones and cardiovascular well-being.


While cats mustn’t consume excessive amounts of phosphorus, they certainly do need some of this mineral. They need it for bone health and other purposes. Don’t give your cat too much phosphorus, however, as it can make your feline more prone to kidney disease.


Your cat needs the right amount of selenium in its diet for a healthy immune system.

Vitamin B12

There are several reasons Vitamin B12 is important for felines. It is crucial to growth and general health.

Are Sardines Ever Bad for Cats?

Whether sardines are good or bad for cats depends on what the fish are packed in. Always give your cat sardines packed in water. Avoid sardines packed in brine, sauce, and most kinds of oil, as these additives will harm your cat.

Check the can to find out what ingredients have been included in your sardines. Ensure there is no soybean oil or brine.

If the sardines are packed in sunflower oil, only let your cat have one fish maximum. Too much of this oil could lead to serious digestive upset.

Have you noticed your sardines are packed in olive oil? You can let your feline friend have some of them but only do this as an occasional treat. Too much olive oil may cause diarrhea. On the positive side, though, it can nourish your cat’s skin and coat.

Soybean Oil is Dangerous for Felines

Soy can damage your feline friend’s thyroid and liver. The phytates in soy will interfere with your cat’s ability to digest protein in its diet. As cats are carnivores, this is a dangerous situation.

While it’s acceptable for cats to have small amounts of soy, it’s better to avoid it.

Check the Sodium Content

Sodium is bad for your feline companion. Sardines are canned and packaged in different ways. Sometimes, the packing methods can add excess sodium to the fish.

Avoid Brine

Brine contains a ton of sodium. Although it is flavorful and enjoyed by humans, it’s far too salty for your cat.

Excessive Sodium is Dangerous for Cats

Make sure you don’t accidentally give your cat too much sodium. Make sure that the sardines you give your pet don’t have high sodium levels. Too much sodium can poison your cat.

Symptoms of sodium poisoning in your pet may include:

  • Intense thirst
  • More frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Low appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

If sodium poisoning is extreme, it may even cause coma or death.

How Many Sardines Can I Give My Cat?

Feeding a cat sardines
Feeding a cat sardine

The number of sardines you can give your cat depends on how big they are. As long as they equal about half of a regular sardine can, that should be fine.

No matter how much your cat pressures you to hand over sardines every day (or whenever you eat them), you should limit this treat.

If you give your cat sardines, you should limit it to half a can each week. You can split this up into two treats a week, or if you want to, you can just hand it all over once weekly.

Can Kittens Eat Sardines?

Once your kitten is old enough to eat solid foods, you may give them small amounts of chopped-up sardines as a treat.

Remember that there are soft bones in sardines. While they’re easy to chew and swallow, you should mash up the sardines before offering them to young cats.

Make sure you choose sardines that are packed in water. Never offer your kitten sardines packed in oil, sauce, or brine, as they could harm your pet.

Be especially careful to ensure the sardines haven’t been packaged with any sodium. Sodium is dangerous for cats, especially kittens.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions related to whether cats can eat sardines.

Can Cats Eat Tomato Sauce?

You shouldn’t give your cats sardines canned with tomato sauce. Generally speaking, you should never give your cat tomatoes.

One reason is that unripe tomatoes are dangerous for felines. They contain too much solanine. While ripe tomatoes are safer, they still contain some of this substance.

Additionally, manufacturers often add salt to tomato sauce. This will cause health problems for your feline friend.

Can Cats Eat Tuna?

Like sardines, whether your cat can eat tuna depends on whether there is anything added to the tuna in the can.

Make sure the tuna is canned with just water. Stay away from giving your cat oil, especially soybean oil, as it’s dangerous for felines.

Never give your cat tuna packed in brine. Brine is full of sodium that will harm your furry friend.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve learned here, cats can eat sardines as an occasional treat. Only give your pet sardines that are packed in water and don’t have high levels of sodium.

Food Questions
About David Fields
David Fields
David Fields is a long-time animal lover and has been blessed to share his life with many companions. A short list includes ragdoll cats, siberian husky and greyhound dogs, an African Grey parrot, many fish of all sorts, and a pandemonium of parakeet. He writes most of the articles on iPetCompanion and is regularly featured on other popular websites on the Internet.
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