Can Cats Eat Turkey?

When it comes to roast dinners or lunches, nothing really beats a fresh, big turkey straight out from the oven. And the best part? This bird is versatile – you can literally prepare and serve turkey for anything from a weekend meal with your family, to a huge holiday roast for all of your nearest and dearest to enjoy in your home (if you’re hosting!)

And more often than not, having a roast turkey will leave you with a little magical thing called – you guessed it – leftovers. Leftover turkey lends itself as the star of many dishes from lunch sandwiches to salads, making it a favorite amongst millions all over the world.

But it’s not only humans who love a little bit of turkey. When your kitty smells the wonderful aroma of turkey in the oven, or in a sandwich the next day, chances are you’ll end up with a series of persuasive actions from her. Expect leg rubs, meowing, pawing – whatever gets your attention and gets her a morsel of that delicious turkey meat!

Is Turkey safe for cats?

As with all things related to your cat’s diet, it’s always best to be mindful about what they eat. This is so that you can prevent any complications from happening, as cats’ digestive systems can be quite sensitive especially when it comes to sharing food items with their human besties.

So, is it safe to serve turkey to your cat? Well, the simple answer is: yes, you can feed turkey to your cat. Cats are known to be obligate carnivores, and this means that they obtain all of the nutrients that they need from a strict diet of meat. Cats in the wild survive by hunting and eating the meat of their prey, and this biological function does not change in domesticated cats either.

To surmise, yes, you can go ahead and appease your meowing and pawing feline companion with a morsel or two of turkey. But that’s not all. There are several considerations that you need to know about before you start letting kitty gorge on turkey!

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How much is too much turkey?

Turkey is known to be a snack food for cats, and shouldn’t be a daily food item that you serve for mealtimes. And experts have recommended that snack food should not comprise more than 10% of your entire kitty’s diet, in order to avoid further health complications such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

What about turkey from the deli?

Now, you’re probably thinking – if my cat can eat my turkey leftovers, surely she can eat the turkey that I get from the deli?

Well, the issue with deli turkey is the fact that it is heavily processed – this means unhealthy sodium, nitrates, and additives that can be very unhealthy to your feline companion. As humans, our digestive systems are equipped to process the sodium, nitrates and additives found in deli turkey, but for cats, it’s a lot harder for them to process such compounds.

This may result in conditions such as pancreatitis and heart disease, which will lead to an overall reduction in your feline companion’s quality of life.

Considerations when feeding turkey to cats

Even though cats can eat turkey, there are a few considerations to note. Here are some of the most important ones listed below:

  • Cooked or uncooked turkey meat 

Your cat should not be fed any raw or undercooked meat – and especially for turkey. Raw meat can be a carrier for bacteria such as salmonella which can wreak havoc to your cat’s health and digestive system.

According to the USDA standards,  you should always cook your turkey to an internal temperature of 165ºF. This temperature ensures that your turkey meat is fully cooked, and is safe to consume – whether it be for you or your little feline furball.

  • Small bones in turkey meat 

Turkey bones pose a huge hazard to your cat’s esophagus and the greater digestive system – they are small, yet can cause near-fatal emergencies that require a trip to the vet as soon as possible.

When you serve turkey to your cat, make sure there are no bones present in the meat, so that you’ll avoid a painful situation for kitty.

  • Overconsumption of turkey

Overconsumption is a big issue for some cats, and their owners alike. Lack of exercise and overfeeding on the owner’s part will more than likely cause some detrimental effects to the health and lifestyle of a cat – turkey is just one of the many culprits that so often appear in the diets of overfed cats.

Remember that snack foods should not amount to more than 10% of your cat’s diet – so that turkey treats should be sporadic, and carefully portioned so that you avoid any risk of overfeeding.

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Other alternative foods to turkey

Some healthy foods that you can feed to your cat as alternatives to turkey are as follows:

  1. Bananas. Bananas are tasty treats that cats absolutely love thanks to the sweetness and creamy texture of this superfruit.
  2. Cooked eggs. Scrambled, sunny side up, or overeasy? Kitties adore the taste of cooked eggs – just make sure they’re fully cooked!
  3. Peanut butter. Peanut butter is a taste that most, if not all cats love. However, peanut butter fed to your cat should always be unsalted, and xylitol-free.
  4. Blueberries. The juicy blueberry is another favored fruit snack of cats.
  5. Pumpkin. Rich in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients of all kinds, pumpkin is an awesome natural treat for cats no matter what the occasion is.

 The list goes on, but the abovementioned food items are some of the most popular ones that cat owners share with their feline friends.

So, we’ve established that yes, it is safe to feed turkey to your cat. But as long as you follow the considerations listed above, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

Your feline companion deserves only the best, so keeping yourself informed about what she can or cannot eat will ensure that they have a long, healthy and happy life together with their favorite human – which is you!

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