Can Cats Eat Squid?

Can cats eat squid? This is not a normal protein to feed kitties, but the question does come up. Learn all about cats eating squid, and if it safe in this quick guide.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: August 14, 2023 | 8 min read

Raw squid on cutting board with salad spices lemon garlic

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It is common for cat owners to wonder if it is safe to share food from their plate with their purr baby. In many cases, human foods should not be eaten by cats. However, that does not mean that some of the ingredients we use are unsafe. Owners always must proceed with caution when it comes to feeding cats human food. One food that owners may have questions about is squid.

A squid is a soft-bodied aquatic animal called a cephalopod that can come in varying sizes, from exceedingly small to massive. Giant squids can grow to be forty feet long. While these giant creatures are rare, the smaller cephalopods are a common ingredient in many international dishes. While this seafood may not be a common part of every person’s diet, it is definitely a food that humans eat a lot of. It is found in many popular seafood dishes, from calamari to pasta. Cats can safely eat some fish and seafood, so this is not too far off the mark for owners to wonder if squid is safe for their kitty to eat.

Whenever an owner is considering giving their cat food that is not a normal part of their diet, it is important to do research first. This is especially important with something kitties may not often encounter, such as cephalopods. Without further delay, let’s get into the details about if cats can eat squid.

Can Cats Eat Squid

This is one of those subjects that has both a yes and a no answer. Squid is not part of a cat’s natural diet, and generally speaking, not something they should eat. It can, however, be eaten safely in very small amounts when prepared properly. Cephalopods are not animals that a cat will usually encounter out in the wild and are not a usual choice for protein to feed a feline.

Felines should not eat raw or fried squid. We will get more into that later. The only squid a kitty should ever be fed is boiled, plain, with no added ingredients or spices. Described that way, it doesn’t sound that appetizing for humans or felines. Cooked cephalopods have a very rubbery texture and can be hard to chew. While kitties do love seafood, this is not one that they are automatically drawn to.

Is Squid Good For Cats?

Squid does not have a lot of health benefits for felines. It is high in zinc, a mineral that helps boost feline health. Too much zinc can be a problem, but a bite or two can give a nice boost. Felines are obligate carnivores, so they need to eat high-quality animal proteins to survive, grow and develop fully. Cephalopods are also a source of fat, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins B12 and E. It does not contain enough of these nutrients to make it a food recommended for kitties. Squid should never replace a cat’s regular protein or cat food.

To put it simply, other than offering a boost of flavor or an occasional treat, feeding kitty cephalopods is not going to do anything to benefit them nutritionally.

Can Cats Eat Raw Squid?

Felines should never, under any circumstance, be allowed to eat raw squid. This is profoundly serious because raw seafood like cephalopod contains many kinds of bacteria, and when ingested, it can lead to food poisoning. Additionally, it can cause thiamine breakdown, something that may lead to neurological malfunction. Thiamine is one of the B vitamins that work to boost health in cats. When this vitamin is broken down, it can cause felines to lose balance and even have trouble walking.

In some cases, eating raw cephalopods can lead to paralysis in felines. This is due to the breakdown of thiamine. Thiamine helps regulate neurological function and works to help convert carbohydrates to energy. Energy is necessary for felines to move and support their body function. As thiamine is broken down, it starts to affect neurological function. This deterioration can lead kitties to have trouble keeping their balance and walking. In severe cases, it can cause them to become paralyzed. If your cat has eaten raw squid, it is best to contact your veterinarian immediately for the next steps. Recovery from paralysis can be difficult and may take weeks to months.

Along with the risk of paralysis, raw cephalopod carries bacteria that can include clostridium, listeria, salmonella, and vibrio. Eating meat infected with any of these can cause kitties great distress, pain, stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, lack of appetite, coughing, watery nose and eyes, issues with breathing, and skin concerns, just to name a few. Along with harmful bacteria, raw meat can also contain parasites such as liver flukes, roundworms, and tapeworms. If ingested, there is a possibility that one of these parasites can stay in a cat. Parasite infection can range from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Cephalopods also contain small amounts of mercury, which is a heavy metal that is often found in different seafood. A buildup of mercury can lead to mercury poisoning, which is often fatal. A cat who has mercury poisoning may have damage to the nervous system and impact its reflexes.

It is especially important to observe your cat both immediately after they eat raw squid and in the hours that follow. It can sometimes take a few hours or even overnight for felines to develop noticeable symptoms. Felines are exceptionally good at hiding when they are sick or in pain, so owners must be vigilant.

The bottom line here is that cats should never eat raw cephalopod. It does not add any nutritional or other health benefits to them and carries far too great a risk of infection and paralysis. This is applicable to all feline breeds, both purebred and mixes.

Can Cats Eat Fried Squid?

Person eating plate of Calamari
Calamari is a delicious fried dish that many people enjoy, but fried cephalopods should never be fed to felines.

Fried food is unhealthy for cats for many different reasons. Along with being fried in oil and high in fat and salt, calamari is usually cooked with other ingredients and seasonings, including garlic and onion, which are extremely toxic to cats. Eating foods cooked in oil can also cause digestive issues for felines as their bodies are not equipped to break down such substances.

If your cat happens to eat one bite of fried calamari, he will probably be okay, but owners should never feed felines fried calamari on purpose. This food has truly little nutritional value or benefit to them, and with all the added ingredients is just too big of a risk. Kitties may like the flavor, but there are plenty of other ways to give them a boost of flavor that does not pose such a danger.

Risks Of Eating Squid

Eating cephalopods is a risky decision for cats. Even plain and boiled, this still poses some challenges. The risks felines face include:

  1. Choking. Even when boiled, it can be very rubbery and hard to chew. Kitties may have trouble swallowing it, and it can become a choking hazard.
  2. Infection from food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or parasites.
  3. Stomach upset and digestive concerns. Kitties may not respond well to new, unusual food like cephalopods. In some cases, it can lead to stomach upset and issues with digestion. These include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  4. Mercury poisoning can be fatal.
  5. Paralysis and nervous system breakdown.
  6. Illness or poisoning from additional ingredients like onion and garlic.
  7. Addiction. Yes, cats can get addicted, and if they eat this seafood too much, they may decide they prefer it over their cat food. This is a big problem because it will not provide them with the balanced nutrition felines need.

Even cooked cephalopods are a significant risk to cats and can trigger severe reactions like organ failure. We cannot stress enough that it is not a wise idea to feed your kitty squid in any form.

What Seafood Can Cats Safely Eat?

Cats love the taste of fish. Fish is a common ingredient in many commercial pet foods. While squid may not be the best choice for a feline treat, there are plenty of other options that are tasty and pose less of a risk. As with any other food, fish and seafood should only be prepared for kitties to eat. Humans should not just share a piece of fish off their plate. Fish that has been baked, boiled, or grilled is best. Felines do very well with oily fishes like sardines and tuna, and white fish like flounder, hack, and cod. Of course, tuna and salmon are two big favorites of cats.

Owners need to be incredibly careful when feeding their kitty fish or seafood. Too many fish or the wrong fish can cause serious issues. These include elevated levels of heavy metals, low levels of calcium, breakdown of thiamine, and vitamin E depletion. Too many fish can also be linked to hypothyroidism in felines. The high magnesium content of fish can also cause urinary tract issues for felines. Fish and seafood can be a wonderful treat but should only be fed to kitties as part of a well-balanced diet. Felines should never be fed exclusively fish as a protein or eat fish that has been prepared with other seasonings and ingredients for human consumption.

Treat Alternatives

There are plenty of healthy alternatives to give kitties who crave that seafood taste other than squid. A quick reminder, try to stick with foods and treats that are specifically prepared for feline consumption. This will alleviate the risks of ingredients that can harm them. Freeze-dried treats and cat food can be a wonderful treat, as they are made from all-natural, whole food, fresh raw ingredients, and then freeze-dried. Fresh food and treats can also be healthy options. Instead of squid, give these products a try:

There are plenty of other options for treats for felines that will be healthier and safer than cephalopods. Bite-sized pieces of cooked poultry like chicken or turkey, beef, and even some fruits and vegetables are a much better choice. Even scrambled eggs can be a tasty occasional treat that will provide them nutritional benefits, add flavor, and can safely be eaten. Of course, any human food a cat eats must be prepared specially for them. Any human food can be dangerous if it is cooked with seasonings, spices, and other ingredients that are harmful and more dangerous for felines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can kittens eat squid?

Kittens should never eat any kind of cephalopods, cooked or raw. Even plain, boiled meat poses a large choking hazard due to its rubbery texture. Kittens need food that is high quality and full of nutritional value. Squid is just too risky.

Can squid really paralyze my cat?

Yes. This food can really paralyze your cat. The B vitamin thiamine is broken down when they eat it, which affects their neurological function, and can lead to felines losing the ability to balance and walk.

Can cats eat calamari?

No, cats cannot eat calamari. Calamari is full of seasoned breading, fats, and other ingredients that are harmful to them. Fried cephalopods can be hard to digest for felines and will not offer them any nutritional value.

Final Thoughts

While there are some human foods that are safe to share with kitties, squid is not one of them. Although plain, boiled cephalopod in exceedingly small amounts can be okay, this food offers no nutritional value to cats. Cephalopod is not something they would eat in their natural diet and is not the best choice for a treat or diet additive. Raw cephalopods are incredibly dangerous because they carry the risk of bacterial infection and parasites and, in some cases, can cause felines to lose mobility and even be paralyzed. There are plenty of safe and tasty options out there for cat treats that are much better choices than squid.

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