Can Cats Eat Sardines?

Whether you've run out of cat food and all you've got handy is a can of sardines or you just want to share a snack with your favorite feline, you might be asking, “Is it ok to feed sardines to my cat?” Either way, the answer is yes!

Although sardines should only be given to cats as a special treat or meal on occasion, these high-protein fishes will give your cat plenty of energy and have many nutrients and minerals which are very healthy for your cat! Sardines contain minerals like calcium, iron, and copper, which are vital for healthy functioning of a cat's organs, and omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA may help improve brain health and cognitive functioning in your kitty and can help build stronger bones and healthier joints. The omega-3's in sardines may also help prevent or fight off cancers and malignant tumors in cats, and the anti-inflammatory properties of these fatty acids are associated with mood improvement and may provide cats who suffer from anxiety or depression some relief. Sardines are also a great source of vitamin B12, which can promote heart health and prevent feline cardiovascular diseases. Dry treats can cause or worsen kidney issues in cats, but sardines can help give your cat some hydration when they aren't drinking much water.

While sardines can be quite healthy to give to your cat, not all canned sardines may be safe to serve them! Sardines can come packed in water, oil, brine, or sauce and may contain additional flavoring elements, some of which may be unhealthy or dangerous to feed to cats.

Which oils are safe for cats?

Sunflower oil is not toxic to cats, and in fact may help improve the quality of their fur, but should only be given in small amounts, as it could induce nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. You might want to drain all of the sunflower oil before serving the sardines to your cat as a cautionary measure for this reason.

Olive oil is also safe for cats, and may also help improve their coat and skin, as well as being a potential treatment for constipation and hairballs. However, olive oil should be given in moderation, as it can also have laxative qualities in large amounts.

Soybean oil, on the other hand, is not safe for cats. It has been flagged as a potential hormone disruptor and may cause thyroid damage in cats, so you should not serve your cats sardines canned in soy oil or soy brine.

Are other sardine additives safe for cats?

Some sardines may be packed in brine, which is a popular preservative made of a high concentration of salt in water. Never feed sardines packed in brine to a cat. Brine may induce sodium ion poisoning, which can cause many serious health issues and even death.

Many sardines are packed in tomato sauce which is seasoned with things such as onions, garlic, peppers, and other spices. These seasonings can upset your cat's stomach, as they do not digest spicy foods well. If you have to serve sardines packed in tomato sauce to your cat, be sure to wash off the sauce thoroughly first.

Smoked sardines are another option which your cat may enjoy eating. However, some smoked sardines may have a higher sodium content, which could be dangerous to your cat. Always be sure to read the label and check the nutrition information before giving your cat sardines.

The safest sardine option for cats are sardines packed in water, with no spices or seasonings at all. Sardines do contain bones, but they are small and soft and so should not be a choking hazard for your cat. If you are a cat lover you probably know that some cats are pickier eaters than others, so if your cat is kibble-obsessed they might not be interested in sardines. However, many cats will love to eat sardines and other oily fish. Half of a typical 3.75 ounce can should be plenty for your kitty, and can be given up to once or twice a week. Always keep an eye on your cats when letting them try new foods—if you do notice any symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting consult with your vet as necessary. is reader-supported!
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.