Can Cats Have Canned Chicken? A Complete Guide to Feline Nutrition

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Canned chicken has gained popularity among cat owners due to its convenience and ease of serving. But beneath the clink of the can opener, a pressing question emerges: Can cats have canned chicken? Is canned chicken genuinely beneficial for our cats, or are we unknowingly compromising their health? This article provides tips on properly feeding canned chicken to ensure cats’ safety and well-being.

Can Cats Eat Canned Chicken?

The simple answer is yes, but with some considerations. Canned chicken might seem convenient for cats, but knowing its risks is essential before making it a regular meal. Cats need meat in their diet for essential nutrients. So, at first glance, canned chicken appears to fulfill that requirement. However, upon closer examination, there are a few factors to consider regarding feeding canned chicken to cats.

Canned chicken is processed and sterilized to help preserve it and avoid bacterial growth. That is why it can last so long in a can. Many commercial canned chicken products have extra salt and preservatives, which cats don’t need. That can pose several health risks for cats if consumed excessively. Additionally, canned chicken lacks the moisture in wet cat food, from which cats get most of their water intake. 

So limiting your cats’ diet mainly to canned chicken can increase the risk of some health problems. However, giving canned chicken to cats in moderation is often safe when done correctly.

Nutritional Benefits of Canned Chicken for Cats

canned chicken

While not the most balanced or complete diet, canned chicken does provide some nutrition that can benefit cats. Chicken is good for cats. Chicken provides high-quality protein, which supports muscular growth and development in cats. Protein is one of the key macronutrients required in feline nutrition.

In addition to protein, canned chicken also includes modest levels of good fats and several vitamins and minerals. Canned chicken is a rich source of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals for your cat’s health. Unsaturated fats, like omega-3, boost energy and support skin health. Canned chicken has vitamins A, B, C, and D. Vitamin A aids eyesight; vitamin D helps bones and teeth. Vitamins B and C support immunity. Minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium strengthen bones, teeth, and tissues.

However, it’s important to note that the exact nutritional composition varies between canned chicken brands. Looking at the label can give you an idea of the fat, sodium, and nutrient content of the particular canned chicken. In general, plain chicken breasts or thighs with no added seasoning or sauces are the best for cats nutritionally. Eating meat without skin or extra fat prevents cats from gaining weight. While canned chicken offers benefits as a treat, it shouldn’t replace a balanced diet.

Common Risks and Concerns When Feeding Canned Chicken to Cats

While many cats can eat canned chicken occasionally without issues, overfeeding it or using it as the sole diet source increases the risk of health problems. For kittens under a year old, it’s best avoided altogether due to the higher need for complete, sustained nutrition. Beyond nutritional deficiencies, other concerns include:

  • High sodium content: Excess salt is difficult for cats’ kidneys to process and filter out. Over time, this can be harmful to your cats’ health.
  • Lack of moisture: Cats are in danger of dehydration if they do not drink enough water, which affects their entire health and functionality. It may also cause bladder problems or, more significantly, Diarrhea, Diabetes, Heat stroke, Kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and other health problems.
  • Weight gain and obesity: Fatty canned meats are calorie-dense and easy to overeat, leading to overweight cats prone to diabetes and heart problems.
  • Nutrient imbalances: Canned chicken does not have the balanced nutrients required for cats. Cats need taurine, arachidonic acid, and certain vitamins, which canned chicken does not provide sufficiently. Eating canned chicken alone does not provide a balanced, species-appropriate diet. Cats can miss out on other essential feline nutrients.
  • Food allergies: Regularly feeding canned chicken can worsen meat protein intolerances in some cats.
  • Bacterial risks: Even processed meats can pose a foodborne illness risk if contaminated before canning. 

Since canned chickens have these opposite impacts, we may as well label them unhealthy. Because of this, cats can consume canned chicken, but only in limited quantities. This is the same problem while feeding cats with chicken nuggets.

The Proper Way to Prepare and Feed Canned Chicken to Your Cats

Can cats have canned chicken
Cats eating canned chicken

Thus, if you’re still going to offer your cats canned chicken, it’s best to know how to prepare it correctly.

The most critical aspect is to provide a tiny amount. Treats are similar.

Additionally, remember to serve your canned chickens whole. That is, no oils or seasonings are used. Such additives might be toxic to your cat. Here are some guidelines:

  • Limit amounts to 2-3 tablespoons per day as a snack, not a meal replacement.
  • Remove the skin and excess fat from the meat before serving.
  • Rinse the chicken thoroughly under running water to reduce sodium.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Check the ingredients for anything unsafe, like onion or garlic powder.
  • Avoid offering chicken cooked with seasonings.
  • Provide fresh water before and after chicken treats to prevent dehydration.
  • Monitor weight and hydration levels for signs of issues requiring adjustment.
  • Never feed expired chicken products to your cat.

Following proper handling and limiting portions offers cats the benefits of canned chicken while minimizing health concerns.

How to Make Canned Chicken for Your Cat at Home

Making it at home is an option for those seeking the simplicity of canned chicken but with more control over quality and safety. Here is a simple recipe:


  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • Water
  • Salt (optional, limited amounts)


  1. Poach chicken pieces in a saucepan with enough water to fully submerge the meat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until fully cooked through.
  2. Remove the chicken and reserve the cooking liquid. Shred or dice the meat into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Return meat to the reserved poaching liquid and hot water if needed to cover fully.
  4. Add a tiny amount of salt only if desired for flavor. Too much poses risks.
  5. Ladle chicken and broth into appropriate storage containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  6. Seal containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for 2-3 months before serving to cats.

Homemade canned chicken is more nutritious and lower in preservatives than store-bought versions. Just be sure to follow safe food handling and limit treats.

Storage and Safety Instructions With Your Canned Chicken

how to store canned chicken

Proper refrigeration and handling are essential to prevent the growth of harmful pathogens in canned chicken intended for cats. Follow these tips:

  • Refrigerate opened cans or homemade batches at 40°F or below.
  • Use within five days of opening for maximum freshness and safety.
  • Freeze unopened cans or home preparations indefinitely for more extended storage.
  • Once defrosted, cooked chicken cannot be refrozen, as ice crystals may damage cell walls and allow bacteria to proliferate. Cooked chicken keeps refrigerated for 3-4 days.
  • Discard any moldy, overly sour-smelling chicken as a precaution. Bacteria stop growing below 40°F, but some toxins remain.
  • Wash hands and all surfaces after handling to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Do not leave bowls of chicken out for more than 2 hours to discourage bacteria growth.
  • Always check the expiration date before offering any food to your cats.
  • Consult Your Veterinarian: If you’re unsure about feeding your cat canned chicken or other human food, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian.

With responsible preparation and cold storage of limited portions, cats can benefit from the occasional canned chicken as an acceptable supplement. Just be watchful for signs of issues.


Can I feed my cats Canned Chicken every day?

No, it’s not advisable that you feed your cat canned chicken every day. As previously explained, feeding chicken daily can lead to several health issues for your cats. Moreover, relying solely on chicken deprives your cat of essential nutrients. Chicken should be given as an occasional treat, not a staple in their diet.

Should You Rinse Canned Chicken for Cats?

Yes, rinsing canned chicken for cats helps reduce sodium content and remove additives, as cats have a low tolerance for excessive sodium and are not good at drinking water regularly. Rinsing also helps remove harmful additives and seasonings. But remember to serve the canned chicken in moderation. 

Can cats have canned chicken breasts?

Cats can enjoy canned chicken breast as a treat, but avoiding overfeeding is important. Cats need a balanced diet, and canned chicken breast should not replace their regular food. Avoid adding bones, as they can cause choking risks or internal injuries. While canned chicken breast can be a tasty treat, their primary diet should be high-quality cat food.

Can cats have canned chicken broth?

Canned chicken broth poses similar risks regarding sodium, lack of nutrients, and hydration as meat. While cats usually like the taste, the high salt content is especially concerning. Broth treats should, therefore, also be provided only in tiny amounts. 

Can cats have canned chicken noodle soup?

Canned chicken noodle soup isn’t suitable for cats. It contains harmful ingredients like onions and garlic, which are toxic to cats and can cause stomach issues and anemia. The high sodium content can lead to excessive thirst and urination. Furthermore, such soups don’t meet cats’ dietary needs, introducing potentially dangerous nutrients. It’s best to avoid giving them to cats.

Can cats have canned chicken juice?

Cats can have juice from canned chicken, but with caution. Many commercial canned chicken products contain added sodium or other seasonings, which aren’t suitable for cats in large amounts. If you’re considering giving your cat canned chicken juice, ensure it’s from a low-sodium or no-salt-added product. Even then, it should be given in moderation and not as a regular part of their diet. It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Can cats eat canned white chicken?

Yes, cats can eat canned white chicken, but it should be given in moderation. Choose plain chicken without additives or seasonings, as many products contain added salt or preservatives.  Remember, while canned chicken can be a treat, it shouldn’t substitute a balanced cat food that offers all the necessary nutrients.


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