If your cats eat tuna, chances are that they love shrimps too. Shrimps have the same fishy flavour and smell, thus, tempting your cats’ carnivorous appetite. But, have you ever wondered what would happen if your cats eat shrimp on a daily basis? Let’s stay put and find out.
Shrimps Are Non-Toxic To Cats
Yes, you read it right. You can feed your cats with shrimps, but not all the time. Their diet should primarily consist of high-quality cat food that contains all the essential nutrients. Shrimps can be given to your cats every now and then, along with their regular cat food. Of course, these crustaceans can benefit your cats in specific ways, but some precautions must be observed.
The Health Benefits
Low in Calories yet Packed with Vitamins and Minerals
Shrimps don’t contain any carbohydrates. About 90% of the calories in shrimps are derived from protein, and the remaining come from fat. Furthermore, they can provide more than 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B complex, selenium and iron.
Shrimps are an excellent source of vitamin B12 or known as cobalamin. This vitamin provides support for a healthy nervous, immune and digestive systems for your cats. It’s also required for proper cognitive functions and acts as an appetite stimulant which is particularly significant for anorectic cats.
Aside from cobalamin, shrimps are also notable for their niacin (vitamin B3) content. Niacin plays a critical role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. Animals can usually produce niacin on their own, but, this is unfortunately not the case for cats. Therefore, it has to come from their diet.
Importance of Niacin in Cats
Niacin is crucial to maintain your cats’ healthy skins, bones and joints. It’s also responsible for the health of mucous membranes (denoted by pink gums and eyelid tissues), as well as the usual function of the digestive and central nervous systems.
Much like other nutrients, selenium is absolutely essential for your cats in caring for a healthy body. Selenium is needed to synthesize antioxidants that help fight free radicals and protect cell membranes. It also plays a significant part in maintaining tissue elasticity as well as preventing premature ageing and tissue hardening due to oxidation.
Shrimps can especially benefit cats that are being treated with systemic corticosteroids, which are known to deplete selenium. While being beneficial for cancer prevention, this mineral is also of great help to cats suffering from one. Besides, selenium is said to prevent your cats from having the adverse effects of mercury, likely by inhibiting its absorption.
Moving on to the iron mineral in shrimps which is especially crucial for cats with a low iron count or anaemia. Sometimes, your cats can become iron deficient due to blood loss, commonly as a result of trauma or gastrointestinal bleeding, or an underlying illness. Adding iron-rich food like shrimps to your cats’ diet can improve their iron count and get their health back on track.
Rich in Essential Fatty Acids
Shrimps contain a high amount of essential fatty acids. In fact, they provide a surprising Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio of nearly 1:1. Each of these fatty acids has a different role in your cats’ body.
Omega-6 fatty acids ensure normal growth as well as the health of your cats’ skin and coat. These fatty acids also protect the membrane structure that surrounds every nerve cell responsible for many of the brain’s functions. Additionally, they support the absorption and transport of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
Similar to Omega-6, Omega-3 fatty acids can promote healthy skin for your cats too. They have anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial to cats with allergies, dry skin or hotspots.
Sufficient Omega-3 fatty acids can enhance the condition of your cats’ hair follicles, ensuring a shiny coat, less shedding and in turn, fewer hairballs. Omega-3 fatty acids may also ease inflammation in the joints, especially for senior cats suffering from arthritis, and are great for joint health in general.
Excellent Source of Astaxanthin
Shrimps are detritivores. These hungry little creatures scour the sediment or sand for pretty much anything to ingest. As they feed on algae, a critical component called astaxanthin is largely passed to them. In fact, that’s what makes the shrimp cells red.
Astaxanthin is actually a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant. It helps prevent oxidative damage to cells, organs and tissues. It has been tied up to cancer prevention and supports the immune and nervous systems of your cats.
This antioxidant promotes overall neurological and eye health. In particular, it helps prevent light-induced damage to your cats’ eye. Those diagnosed with retinal degeneration and feline glaucoma can also benefit from it.
Additionally, astaxanthin also ensures proper function of muscular and skeletal systems. It supports joint and muscle recovery, as well as the cardiovascular health of your cats.
High Iodine Content
While shrimps have a lot of nutrients in them, their high iodine content can be too much for your cats. Consuming excessive iodine can increase the risk of hyperthyroid disease.
Some of the typical clinical symptoms are weight loss, increased appetite, and increased thirst and urination. Their coats may appear messy, matted or greasy. While this condition can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, cats with hyperthyroidism may also seem to be extremely active.
High Sodium Content
Salt is usually added to packaged, frozen shrimps for flavour. Besides that, they also contain sodium-rich preservatives such as sodium tripolyphosphate which help minimize moisture loss during thawing.
Salt, in general, has no adverse effect on cats. But having said that, a high-sodium diet is definitely not for your cats if they’re suffering from some kinds of kidney, liver or heart disease.
Regardless, you can’t be too careful when it comes to deciding the best for your cats. So, if you do feed them with shrimps, opt for fresh-caught shrimps if possible, or at least, frozen shrimps without additives.
Final Thoughts: Can Cats Eat Shrimp?
Like tuna, shrimps are non-toxic to your cats. High-quality shrimps are low in calories but highly nutritious. They contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids as well as a powerful antioxidant. However, too many shrimps in your cats’ diet may backfire and jeopardize their health. So, the key to feeding your cats with shrimps is moderation.