Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

Is it safe for your cat to consume raw poultry? A veterinarian weighs in.

Your domesticated cat’s diet is probably already high in cooked and processed chicken, but wild cats regularly consume raw poultry, which may have you asking if cats can eat raw chicken.

The answer is a little hard. Whether you’re considering feeding your cat a raw diet or simply want to give him a snack while you make supper, consulting your veterinarian is the best way to ensure your cat’s safety.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they must consume animal products in order to thrive. They thrive on high-protein meals rich in fatty acids, taurine, and other vital vitamins found in meat. Supporters of a raw food diet for cats argue that simulating a wild cat’s diet—which would include raw meat, bones, and organs—is optimal, because boiling meat alters important nutrients.

“Homemade raw food diets are hazardous,” the statement reads, “since retail meats for human consumption can be tainted with germs.” “Many infections discovered in raw protein diets can be transmitted to humans by contact with the food, pets, or the environment. Many of these species have also been demonstrated to be resistant to multiple antimicrobials, which is worrying.”

The best way to keep your cat safe? Consult your vet before introducing any new foods to your cat’s diet, especially raw meat. 

What Are the Risks of Feeding Cats Raw Chicken?

Parasites and Bacteria

While cats can digest raw meats better than humans, they’re still at risk for contracting serious illnesses from harmful bacteria and parasites.

“Eating any type of raw meat poses potential safety concerns with bacteria, particularly Salmonella and Campylobacter, as well as potential exposure to parasites, all of which may cause GI distress and potential systemic illness.

If your cat eats raw chicken and shows signs of intestinal upset, contact your veterinarian right away.

Bones

Raw chicken bones can become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or digestive tract, posing a choking hazard to your cat. Sharp bones found can pierce the digestive tract, resulting in life-threatening sepsis in some situations.

Nutritional Deficiency

Because raw chicken does not have a comprehensive nutritional profile, it should not be used as a sole source of nutrition.

Taurine is vital for your cat’s heart health, so make sure he gets plenty. Veterinarian-recommended cat food is the best way to ensure that your cat gets all of the nutrients he or she needs for a healthy, balanced diet.

What Should I Do If My Cat Accidentally Ate Raw Chicken?

If your cat ate raw chicken that wasn’t properly cooked, keep a watch on him and contact your veterinarian if any of the following symptoms appear:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy

How To Safely Prepare Raw Chicken for Cats

If you insist on feeding your cat raw chicken (or any other raw meat), consult your veterinarian first. While wild cats eat raw meat, your domesticated cat is accustomed to processed, prepared food. If your veterinarian approves of introducing raw chicken into your cat’s diet, follow these safety precautions to keep both you and your cat companion safe.

Make sure the chicken is fresh

To begin, make sure you buy fresh, raw chicken from a reputable store. If you wait too long to feed this to your cat, bacteria will grow. Consider raw chicken for pets, which is typically processed to add essential nutrients and reduce the risk of harmful bacteria.

Prep the chicken with care before serving

Before serving, chop the meat with a clean knife on a clean surface and remove any bones. Give your cat only as much meat as they can consume in one sitting; any leftover meat should be tossed. Remove any remaining chicken after you’ve fed your cat, and discard any raw meat that has reached room temperature. Wash your cat’s bowl with soap and hot water once they’ve done eating.

Clean surfaces to avoid the spread of bacteria

To avoid infection of yourself and others, properly clean surfaces where the raw chicken is put as you cook it. If you want to make it easier (and safer) for your cat to consume homemade chicken, you can boil or grill the meat without adding any salt or seasoning. Garlic, onion, and salt, among other common seasonings, are poisonous to cats and should be avoided.