I’m sure most of us would agree that almost all cats go crazy at the sound of a can opening. My two cats, at least, always seem to go particularly insane whenever I open a can and they smell tuna. The love that cats have for tuna is rather obvious. However, cats cannot eat tuna as often as they would like, as in the long run their health surely won’t love it as much as they do.
Would it be a good idea to feed my Ragdoll cat canned tuna? Yes, but only in moderation (once or twice a week at most), as a treat or to help a loss of appetite. Although there are reasons Ragdolls should have a sort of specialized diet, tuna can do more harm than good to any cat.
Read on to learn why canned tuna can be harmful. Further, we are going to show you a couple of alternatives to canned tuna.
Ways Canned Tuna can be Damaging to your Ragdoll
- If the canned tuna is in brine or oil, the high amount of salt could cause harm (salt is potentially poisonous for cats, and salt poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or worse)
- Cats can become addicted to tuna
- Tuna contains a considerable amount of mercury, which could lead to mercury poisoning
- Fish is not part of a cat’s natural diet, which can cause thiamine deficiency
Yes, Your Ragdoll Can Get Addicted To Canned Tuna
This may sound weird, but there have been cases in which a cat would start to refuse its usual meals, having lost appetite for anything that isn’t tuna.
This may very well be an addiction. In these cases, it is advised to add a small amount of tuna (which had been previously kept in spring water, and rinsed beforehand) and to mix it in with the cat’s typical routine.
Each time the amount of tuna must be reduced, cutting it out of their diet once they have recovered.
Methylmercury, a highly toxic form, builds up in certain fish and shellfish. Tuna, tilefish, king mackerel, shark and swordfish are among the worst.
Unfortunately, health laws for meat and fish in pet foods are more lenient than they are for human foods, and it has been found that many pet foods contain concentrations of toxic metals.
In the last thirty years, mercury levels in fish have increased. Issues such as hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, and kidney disease in cats have increased as well.
It is possible that the high fish content in many cat foods could have contributed to the large number of cases of renal disease in cats.
Mercury toxicity is not that common in cats, so it may not be the first thing a veterinarian suspects.
A loss of coordination, balance, and difficulty walking are serious symptoms for a cat to experience. However, these symptoms are also the same for other illnesses, such as thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency.
Aside from poisoning, fish can also cause allergies. Food allergies, in general, tend to occur around the cat’s face, ears, and feet the most.
Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing, or skin issues (excessive itching, irritation, rashes, hair loss), or gastrointestinal problems (vomiting, diarrhea) this could be an allergic reaction.
It is important to keep in mind that other things can cause allergies as well, including the bowl your cat eats from being the cause.
If the reaction appears to be similar to acne around the cat’s chin, this could be a reaction to eating from a plastic bowl. Stainless steel or glass bowls are both easier to clean and safer.
Other Alternatives To Canned Tuna
If you were really hoping to give your Ragdoll a taste of fish, there are a few different options. If your cat is not eating, adding a small amount of tuna to mix with their regular food could help.
Use canned tuna in water, rather than brine or oil, and rinse before serving.
The priority is to always have a meat source.
Or, rather than using canned tuna which is for humans, it is probably safer to get some commercially manufactured wet food containing tuna instead.
Although fish can be good for cats up to a certain point, as it happens that some cats don’t drink enough water, and it could help to keep them hydrated.
However, it doesn’t cover their nutritional needs and can cause malnutrition along with other problems.
Here are even safer options, as they contain much less mercury than other fish:
- Salmon (Trader Joe’s Unsalted, boneless Alaskan Salmon)
- Cod (I and Love and You Grain-Free Cod – Get it, it´s great!)
- Smoked Trout
- Atlantic Croaker
The Ideal Diet for Ragdolls
Since Ragdolls have such large bodies and are not overly active, they are more prone to strains on their joints and bones. This is why their diet needs to be high in nutritional support, but also in fatty acids.
The result of this is that Ragdolls are more likely to gain weight at a faster rate than other cats.
Ragdolls have large, square mouths which cause them to eat their food without chewing, so using a larger kibble, or mixing dry food with wet food could also work.
They can also have a genetic predisposition to develop heart issues, which is another reason why their food should be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA, and taurine.
This is important in order to help maintain a healthy heart.
Omega-3 fatty acids, in combination with omega-6 fatty acids, help to maintain their coat and skin.
Mammals can usually internally synthesize their own taurine from other amino acids, but this is not the case for cats as they can only get it by eating it in their diet.
This is especially particular for Ragdolls, because of their heightened issues with cardiac health.
We highly recommend reading our huge Ragdoll Cat Food Guide here. It will help you to feed your Ragdoll cat the right food, the right way.
What to Look For
Nowadays tuna is called ‘Ocean Whitefish’ on cat food packaging.
It is important to always check the label of the food that you are buying. Meat should always be the very first ingredient listed on the label.
Certain grains (such as wheat), dairy, and soy should be avoided when buying food for your Ragdoll as they are not part of a cat’s diet.
These have also been shown to cause obesity, diabetes, tract disease, allergies and also upsetting their digestive systems.
Are Ragdoll cats prone to diarrhea? Yes. Ragdolls are commonly affected with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) more than other domestic shorthairs, due to the more shallow gene pool, and therefore suffer from digestive problems such as diarrhea, celiac disease, and constipation.
- We have dedicated an entire article on Ragdolls and diarrhea. Read it here!
Is human food bad for cats? Yes, it can be, as any food which is not specially made for cats can affect their digestive system and cause diarrhea, vomiting, or lack of appetite. If human food is limited to only being given to cats as a treat, no harm should be done.
What other foods can harm my Ragdoll cat?
- Coffee, tea, energy drinks
- Raw eggs
- Grapes and Raisins
- Onions and Garlic