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Q&A: Can I feed my cat tuna?


Q: Many years ago our family adopted a beautiful cat we named Tom. My mother fed Tom only tuna and he began to develop a reddish coat. Unfortunately, the cat soon died. Now, 67 years later, I still feel bad about this and wonder if a diet of only tuna was harmful. What do you think? -- E.M., Clearwater, FL

Josie is a healthy, young cat at
Tenth Life for New York City Cats.
A: "Cats do not do well on a diet of solely tuna, or any one human food source," says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, chief medical officer for Banfield Pet Hospital in Portland, OR.

Giving your cat a bit of tuna as an occasional treat is one thing. However, as an exclusive diet, tuna lacks significant amounts of vitamin E, potentially leading to a dangerous vitamin E deficiency.

Felines fed too much tuna can develop other nutrient deficiencies, too, because most de-boned fish lacks calcium, sodium, iron, copper and several other vitamins. Mercury, frequently present in tuna, also presents a potential danger.