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C2010-48

Dear Christopher Cat

I offer my cats various brands of dry and canned cat foods, but Smokey, my old guy, prefers the same canned tuna I eat. Is this okay?

Christopher Responds

As long as tuna comprises less than 10 percent of Smokey’s diet, it’s probably fine. But it sounds like he’s eating more than that.

A diet that contains a significant amount of tuna isn’t balanced. Too much tuna is bad for us for many reasons:

  • We cats need large quantities of B vitamins, but tuna has only small amounts, which are further reduced when the tuna is cooked during the canning process.

  • Tuna contains enzymes that break down vitamin B1, also known as thiamine. Insufficient thiamine causes neurologic and gastrointestinal problems.

  • Tuna also is deficient in vitamin E. Insufficient vitamin E can cause pansteatitis, a painful, debilitating and sometimes fatal inflammation of the body’s fat.

  • Internal bleeding due to vitamin K deficiency has been reported in cats eating canned tuna. Some cats have bled to death.

  • Tuna is low in calcium and other important minerals.

  • Conversely, tuna is high in magnesium, which may increase the risk of feline lower urinary tract disorder.

  • Some tuna is contaminated with mercury, which can cause neurologic problems when ingested in excess.

Entice Smokey to eat more of his balanced-diet cat food by offering him less tuna.

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