My son filled our freezer with fish he caught this summer, and I am wondering if it is OK for me to feed some to our six cats. They love fish, and I would put just a bit in with their regular food every day or so. I'll cook the fish, of course -- some boiled or broiled and some fried in a little canola oil. Do you have any problem with this?
M.E.G., Fargo, ND Jul 30, 2012
Yes, I have problems with this and with feeding cats canned tuna. Lager, older ocean fish like tuna, swordfish, halibut, tilefish, orange roughy and king mackerel are some of the more contaminated fish that children and pregnant women should avoid. Some state health authorities have printed advisories for consumers of fish bought in the market or a restaurant or freshwater fish like those your son caught. Of particular concern with these freshwater fish are contaminants like mercury, which can cause neurological problems and kidney damage in cats and humans; dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyl, which may cause cancer and developmental defects; and perfluorooctane sulfonate, which can alter thyroid hormone levels and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol. Freshwater fish should have all fat removed, since that's where some of these toxins accumulate. Cooking will not destroy any of the toxins. The basic rule for feeding yourself and your cats is to eat smaller, younger fish no more than once per week. Be sure to eat panfish -- a fish that doesn't outgrow the size of a frying pan -- like sunfish, crappie or yellow perch, rather than predator fish like walleyes, northern pike, bass and lake trout. Avoid consuming farmed salmon, which is especially noted for high levels of chemical contamination. Many cats are allergic to fish. They can develop miliary dermatitis or itchy eczema or will vomit immediately after eating. Tragically, many of our natural waterways are contaminated by industrial chemicals. This leads to contamination of the food chain and concentration of chemicals in apex predators at the top of the chain -- from humans to our carnivorous cousins, wild and domesticated, terrestrial and aquatic.
8/2/2012 11:59:28 AM #
Well, sadly, it looks like I will be giving up the tuna and so will my fave catty friend, Spooky. I have read that sardines are usually okay, but as you said, no more than once a week. Wow! Thank you Dr. Fox!
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