Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Crab? Is It Toxic?

Can cats eat crab? It’s meat, but is it safe for cats to eat? In this quick overview, we discuss different types of seafood treats and if crab is toxic to cats.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: December 6, 2023 | 6 min read

Gray cat sniffing crab legs on a plate on wodden table

This article should not substitute contact with a veterinarian. Contact your local vet immediately if your cat is reacting poorly after consumption.

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Crab is a popular dish around the world and is a staple of any seafood restaurant. For many cat owners, crab is a common ingredient found in the fridge, but can cats eat crab? There are a few things you should know before sharing that crab bisque, pasta, or rangoon with your feline friends.

Crab meat can be safe for your kitty in moderation, but not as an everyday treat. While it is safe in certain preparations, there are some precautions to take before feeding cats crab.

There are wide varieties of crab on the market, along with foods that contain crab meat and imitation crab products. Are they all safe for cats to eat? Read on to find out!

Can Cats Eat Crab Meat?

Yes, cats can eat crab meat. Always cook crab before giving it to your cat. Raw seafood risks carrying pathogens—like bacteria and parasites—that could make your feline sick if fed raw. Cooking crab meat will kill any pathogenic troublemakers like toxoplasmosis hiding inside this tasty treat.

Is Crab Meat Good For Cats?

While cats shouldn’t subsist on crab alone, this meat does offer some nutritional value. Cats are obligate carnivores who depend on animals as the primary source of nutrients in their diet. The cat’s digestive system has developed to break down and utilize the nutrients found in meat much more effectively than plant material. Cats lack the digestive enzymes necessary to survive on a plant-based diet.

Nutritional Benefits Of Crab Meat

Crab meat contains protein, which felines use for energy and various body processes. Protein is a cat’s most important nutrient. Crab meat is very high in protein and a good source of micronutrients like folate, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. These vitamins and minerals are essential to your cat’s overall health.

Along with protein, cats need to consume fat for energy and to absorb essential vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins that are absorbed and transported through the body with the help of dietary fats. Because cats are carnivores, they digest animal fats more effectively than plant-based fats. Crab meat contains omega-3 fatty acids from fat that support your cat’s heart, brain, eyes, skin, and coat.

Do Cats Like Crab?

Just like humans, cats’ taste preferences can vary. Since crab is high in protein and taste-enhancing fat, your cat will more than likely show interest in this seafood treat. But, if your cat doesn’t like crab meat, don’t force it on them; plenty of other fish are in the sea.

When Is Crab Bad For Cats?

Moderation is the key to success. While crab has cat-approved proteins and fats, this tasty treat is also high in sodium and cholesterol. As with any seafood, crab meat contains traces of mercury. As larger fish eat smaller fish up the food chain, concentrations of mercury increase. Still, this may be a factor to consider before giving your cat crab meat.

Crab meat also runs the risk of contamination from bacteria and parasites. Never feed your cat raw crab meat. When cooking crab meat, keep added ingredients to a minimum. Extra sodium and spices are a no-no where your cat is concerned. Avoiding crab meat altogether is best if your feline has kidney or liver problems. Crab meat naturally contains high levels of sodium, which can increase fluid retention and lead to other health problems for your kitty.

Of course, allergies are always a potential concern when introducing new food to your feline. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include vomiting, diarrhea, and itching. If your cat displays any of these symptoms after eating crab meat, avoid feeding your cat this seafood treat in the future.

Can Cats Have Crab Legs?

No, it would be best if you didn’t feed your cat crab legs. The legs and shells of a crab are harder for your cat to digest and can pose a choking hazard. Stick with the meat only.

Can Cats Eat Imitation Crab Meat?

It is best to avoid feeding your kitty any imitation crab. Imitation crab meat isn’t crab at all, but rather a fish paste called surimi. Surimi is made from a blend of different types of fish, adding other ingredients like sugar, egg whites, and starch to make it taste like real crab meat. Think of it as the hotdog of the ocean. Unlike crab meat, imitation crab isn’t super nutritious. Imitation crab is lower in protein, fat, and nutrients overall. Instead, feed your cat plain, cooked crab meat.

Can Cats Eat Crab Sticks?

Imitation crab is also sold as crab sticks. These should be avoided for cats, as they have very high sodium and little nutritional value. While a bite or two might taste good and won’t do long-term harm, cats should not eat crab sticks.

How Should I Feed My Cat Crab?

Think of crab meat as a special treat for your fur baby. You can give your cat a small piece once or twice a week, but avoid treating crab meat as a meal. After cooking the crab and removing any of the shells, break the crab into small bite-sized pieces for your cat to eat. Start with a small amount and monitor your cat’s reaction to the crab. If your cat displays any adverse reaction, stop feeding immediately and consult your vet.

Even though this food can be safe for your cat in moderation, your pet is sure to encounter unexpected dangers throughout its life. Pet insurance can reduce the financial burden so you can focus on your cat’s health in an emergency.

Can Cats Be Allergic To Crab?

Yes, some kitties can be allergic to crab and other seafood. A fish and seafood allergy in felines is not extremely common, but it can happen. cats with a shellfish allergy may experience a range of symptoms. Allergy symptoms include:

  1. Itching and hives
  2. Skin rash
  3. Lesions or blisters on the skin
  4. Scratching
  5. Hair loss
  6. Swelling of the face
  7. Inflammation in limbs and paws
  8. Respiratory symptoms

Observe your cat after eating crab or any other seafood. If you see any of these symptoms or other concerning behaviors, reach out to your veterinarian. They will likely want to do an examination and bloodwork to rule out other illnesses and confirm a food allergy. If you want further information on your cat’s allergies, you can do an at-home cat allergy test.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know cat owners have many questions about foods that are safe for cats. Let’s get into some of the most often-asked inquiries about cats eating crabs.

Can Cats Have Crab Rangoon?

No, cats shouldn’t eat crab rangoon. Crab rangoons are deep-friend wontons filled with crab (or imitation crab), cream cheese, and seasoning. While delicious, this Chinese treat is high in fat and salt. It also contains dairy, and most cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t have the digestive enzymes needed to break down the sugar in milk (lactose).

Can Cats Have Canned Crab Meat?

Check the can before feeding it to your cat. Most canned crab meats contain extra salt for preservation, which is a no-no. It would be best to avoid canned crab containing additional spices that might upset your cat’s digestive system.

Can Cats Eat Crab Shells?

Crab shells are another no-no. Crab shells are hard and split into shards when bitten. Jagged pieces of crab shells can cause tears in your cat’s esophagus. Shell is also a choking hazard for your cat.

What Alternative Seafood Can I Feed My Cat?

Cats can eat shellfish like clams, scallops, oysters, and lobsters, so long as they are removed from their shells and are left unseasoned. Shrimp, squid, and octopus are also safe for cats to consume. Small fish like sardines and anchovies are suitable for cats and are less likely to contain high levels of pollutants and toxins. They are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements are also a convenient way to add healthy fats to your cat’s diet.

Can Cats Eat Tuna?

While it’s true that cats love tuna, tuna doesn’t love your kitty cat. This fish contains high mercury levels, and a diet high in tuna can lead to mercury poisoning. As a predatory fish, tuna accumulates more elevated levels of heavy metals and other toxins than other fish. If you can, avoid feeding your cat tuna completely. Cats have a way of becoming obsessed with tuna, and you run the risk of them refusing to eat anything else. Instead of tuna, offer them this floppy fish toy.

Do you have a cat that loves crab meat or other seafood? Let us know your cat’s favorite fish treat in the comments.

A Healthy Feline Diet

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need to eat a meat-based diet. Crab meat can be an occasional treat, but it is not a complete meal. If you are worried your kitty isn’t getting enough protein, it’s best to discuss this with your vet first. Adding fresh meats alone will not offer complete and balanced nutrition. Thankfully, there is a versatile range of healthy commercial cat foods to pick from, including fresh and freeze-dried, to give your kitty’s bowl a boost of flavor and nutrition.

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