Can I Give My Cat Lobster?
In our busy, budget-conscious lives, many of us rely on a steady rotation of the same easy, affordable meals—we eat a lot of sandwiches, chicken, spaghetti, and soup for dinner. When special occasions roll around, though (like holidays, birthdays, and rites of passage), we opt for much more decadent dinners. Among lovers of seafood, lobster is a popular choice. Depending on your location, it can be more expensive than other types of meat, but it has a decadent, celebratory quality that’s hard to capture with meat that comes from a cow or a chicken. Lobster as a treat also has another appeal: it isn’t deep fried and drenched in chocolate, so we can convince ourselves that it’s a healthy treat.
Lobster seems to us to be the dessert of seafood, and pop culture has long painted cats as seafood-lovers, so it follows that lobster would be the perfect treat for pets of the feline persuasion. But is it really? Though plenty of pet bloggers rave about the benefits of shrimp or tuna for cats, they rarely mention lobster. Some pet parents even suggest that seafood can kill your cat. So, who is closer to the truth? Can cats have lobster?
The answer is technically yes, cats can eat lobster in moderation, but it should not serve as your cat’s main meal, and it is not without risk. Though cartoon cats have gorged themselves on fish for decades, seafood is actually one of the most common feline allergens! If your cat has a food allergy, and you feed them lobster, they can develop some serious health problems. If, however, your cat is allergy-free (which most cats are), then it is probably safe to give them a couple bites of fresh, thoroughly cooked lobster. Lobster meat is not toxic to cats, and it may offer a small boost of nutrition.
Seafood is not nutritionally complete, but it is much higher in nutrition than a lot of processed cat treats. Lobster is quite high in protein—and, because cats are carnivores who are designed to eat meat, it has the right type of protein, too. As obligate carnivores, cats require a balance of amino acids that can only be found in meat products. Your cat should be getting most of their protein from high-quality cat food, but some pet parents have found it beneficial to supplement their cat’s diet with lean, protein-rich meats.
A lot of people recommend seafood because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for your cat to maintain a healthy nervous system and a strong immune system. Seafood that is rich in omega-3s may even improve the health of your cat’s skin and fur coat, and many people who have cats find that their pet’s skin problems dissipate after they increase their intake of healthy fats. If you are looking for omega-3s, however, lobster is not the food for you. Compared to many other foods, lobster is a rather poor source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish such as salmon and tuna are much better choices.
If your cat has never eaten seafood before, you should introduce them to lobster slowly. Food allergies make up around 10% of all feline allergies, and seafood is one of the most common feline allergens. Food allergies can be tricky to diagnose, but the most common symptom is skin problems. If your cat is allergic to lobster, they might show symptoms like excessive scratching, hair loss (as a result of scratching), and raw, chafed skin. Cats may also suffer from seafood intolerance, which causes problems like nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your cat exhibits symptoms of either an allergy or intolerance, the best thing you can do is avoid giving them seafood in the future. If your cat already has allergy symptoms, it is best to steer clear of new foods until you and your vet have figured out the cause of their symptoms.
Things to Consider
And, of course, if your cat’s vomiting is severe or prolonged, take them to see the vet as soon as possible. Lobster and other seafood are at a high risk of contamination that may result in food poisoning. To minimize your cat’s risk of exposure to parasites and bacteria that can make them sick, make sure the lobster you feed them is fresh and fully cooked at a temperature high enough to kill any pathogens. Finally, avoid giving your cat lobster that has been seasoned or buttered. Some seasonings are poisonous to cats, and dairy products are fattening and unhealthy.
In conclusion, cooked lobster is safe for most cats in moderation. It is a low-carbohydrate food that is rich in many of the amino acids cats need, but it should never serve as a dietary staple. If your cat does not have a seafood allergy, and if you make sure that your lobster is fresh and thoroughly cooked, they should handle this treat just fine.