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Turkey meat, commonly known simply as turkey, is prized for its yummy taste and dense nutritional profile. The meat is among the most popularly consumed protein sources in the world.
The fact that cats are naturally meat-eaters explains why most pet parents do not think twice about sharing turkey with their feline friends. But is turkey okay for cats or can the meat hurt your kitto?
Let’s find out.
What Do Cats Eat?
Cats are obligate (true) carnivores. As such, their diet consists mostly of animal-based products.
Cats can consume virtually any animal-derived products; meat, bones, blood, skin, and all. However, they generally prefer lean meat.
It’s also important to note that the domestic cat’s diet doesn’t comprise only meat. These animals can occasionally snack on many plant-derived foods, including fruits, vegetables, and even tubers.
Can Cats Eat Turkey?
Turkey is essentially meat. And since cats are obligate carnivores, it makes sense that these animals can safely eat turkey.
In fact, not only is turkey safe for cats to eat. The meat can also benefit your feline friend in many ways.
Listed below are the various ways your cat might benefit from a turkey-rich diet;
1. Turkey Might Strengthen Your Cat’s Muscles
As already indicated, turkey is among the greatest sources of animal protein in the world. A 100-gram serving of turkey provides about 30 grams of protein.
Protein is essential for muscle growth and development. The protein also aids food metabolism as well as the transportation of nutrients across the body.
Protein might even support weight loss. That’s due to its ability to promote feelings of satiation for longer.
2. Turkey Might Boost Your Cat’s Energy Levels
Turkey is loaded with vitamin B3 (niacin). A 100-gram serving of cooked turkey provides close to 70% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of niacin.
Niacin is important in energy production. The vitamin also plays a key role in cellular communications.
3. Turkey Might Improve Your Cat’s Mood
Niacin isn’t the only B-vitamin abundant in turkey. The meat is also chockfull of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).
Vitamin B6 supports the formation of amino acids. It’s also involved in the production and signaling of chemical neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals help regulate mental health by inhibiting the adverse effects of cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Therefore, supplementing with pyridoxine-rich foods like turkey might be a proactive way to combat anxiety and mood disorders in cats.
The following are other notable nutrients in turkey and how each might benefit your cat;
• Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) – Essential in the formation of DNA and red blood cells
• Selenium – Supports metabolism through the production of thyroid hormones
• Zinc – Required for protein synthesis, enzyme reactions, and gene expression
• Phosphorus – Promotes strong and healthy bones
• Magnesium and Potassium – Regulate electrolyte balance and blood circulation
What Are The Potential Drawbacks Of Turkey For Cats?
a) Turkey May Contain Unhealthy Amounts of Fat
Turkey can be worryingly high in fat. That’s especially true for turkey skin.
Cats require a considerable amount of fat in their diets as it helps with energy production. But excess fat consumption can predispose your feline friend to obesity and diabetes.
Long-term exposure to fatty foods might trigger even more severe medical conditions, such as heart disease and pancreatitis. Besides, fat has a laxative effect and can irritate your cat’s stomach.
b) Turkey May Be Laden In Salt and Spices
Processed turkey may be laden in salt.
Salt is usually added as a preservative and for seasoning purposes. However, ingesting too much of the compound is associated with kidney damage in cats and dogs.
Salt causes a condition known as sodium-ion poisoning. Early warning symptoms include frequent drinking and increased urination. Without prompt interventions, the condition might produce tremors, seizures, and other life-threatening symptoms.
Spices like onion and garlic aren’t healthy for cats either. Consuming these substances might induce Heinz-body anemia, a potentially fatal type of hemolytic anemia. The condition generally presents anemia-like symptoms, such as pale gums and lethargy.
c) Turkey May Harbor Bacteria
Raw turkey can harbor several disease-causing bacteria. Common ones include salmonella, campylobacter, Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens, and Yersinia enterocolitica.
Ingesting any of these pathogens might trigger gastroenteritis or food poisoning. Symptoms to watch out for include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, and abdominal discomfort.
d) Turkey May Choke Your Cat
Turkey bones can easily choke your cat. But that’s only half the problem.
The bones could also splinter as your feline friend attempts to chew them, causing severe injuries to the animal’s mouth and digestive tract.
Worse yet, swallowing a significant amount of turkey bones might cause gastrointestinal blockage.
What Is The Best Way To Serve Turkey To Cats?
i. Go for the best cut
Lean muscle is the safest turkey cut to give to cats, due to its low fat content. The further from the skin, the more preferable the cut.
ii. Wash the turkey
Washing turkey may help remove some of the pathogens the meat could harbor.
iii. Debone the meat
Cats shouldn’t consume turkey bones, which makes this an important step when preparing turkey for your feline friend. After deboning, cut the meat into smaller slices.
iv. Cook the meat
Cooking kills any pathogens that couldn’t be rinsed off with water. Just be sure to avoid cooking methods that involve using fat, butter, salt, and seasonings.
v. Serve in moderation
Once the meat is cooked, serve it to your cat in small portions.
Turkey is a yummy treat for cats. The meat also packs plenty of nutrients that your feline friend might enjoy.
However, remember to proceed with caution while serving turkey to your cat to avoid any side effects associated with the meat.