Why Do Cats Like Fish?

Since your childhood, you have been learning from your elders through stories, reading in storybooks, and watching cartoons, or movies about cats as fish lovers. But have you ever thought about why do cats like fish? If yes, you are going to know everything about why cats like fish?-here with all the required details.

Do Cats Actually Like Fish?

Historical Background

Historians have found a connection with the ancient time cats’ appearance in the Middle East around ten thousand years ago. According to them, cats were domesticated for the first time around that period. Most likely, today’s cats are the successors of the African wild cats.

Naturally, these mentioned wildcats were carnivores and used to hunt small mammals such as mice, rats, and rabbits. They also had reptiles and birds occasionally. Their living area was the desert, so they didn’t have any chance to eat fish. It’s quite apparent from here that cats’ fish-loving nature didn’t come from their ancestors.

Connection with the Egyptians

This theory is not proven but according to some authors, Egyptians introduced fish to these felines around five thousand years ago. The Egyptians built their civilization on the Nile’s riverbanks, and one of the chief activities was farming. They noticed that rats attacked their crops after harvesting. Thus, they were losing their staple food, as well as, trade.

Then they thought that cats could save their crops from rats because naturally, these felines are carnivores and predators. This could be a reason that the Egyptians became interested in cats, and also domesticated them. This theory also claimed that they used the Nile’s fish to attract cats and turned those into pets at their homes. 

Why Do Cats Like Fish?

Opportunistic Feeders

This is one of the reasons why cats like fish. Cats are always known for their opportunistic feeder nature. They don’t leave a single opportunity to take advantage of their situation, and whenever they are given food, they are always ready to have it.

Having fish from people is an easier option than going hunting for food. Again, it allows them to save their energy.

Co-existing with Humans formed this Liking for Fish

This is another reason why cats like fish. These felines have been living around people for over a thousand years and they got used to taking fish scraps throughout this time. Thus, gradually they started loving fish.

Great Source of Protein

Cats are carnivores and they need high-level protein in their diet. Most cats enjoy having fish because it’s a great source of not only protein but also fat. Cats love fish because of its nutritional substance that they find out with their taste buds. This is an important reason why cats like fish.

Fish’s Strong Smell

Cats’ smelling sense is extraordinary, generally, 14 times stronger than that of human beings. Fish’s strong smell makes it more attractive to these felines. But their smelling sense makes this meal far more appealing. So, this is the most important reason why cats like fish.

The above reasons explain why cats like fish. Now, let’s focus on some other interesting facts.

Why Do Cats Like Fish But Dislike Water

  • The Reason

As you already know, cats’ ancestors were the African wild cats. Today’s cats still have some of those wild traits and instincts. So, cats hold a strong disinclination to water due to biological causes. Their wildcat ancestors used to live in the desert, and it’s quite obvious that they didn’t enjoy swimming.

Because of their origins, the fur of most cats absorbs water making it tougher for drying out. This is the reason why cats like fish but not water.

  • Certain Exceptions

Well, there are certain exceptions. The Maine Coon and Bengal are two varieties that love water. Again, most cats like fish but don’t enjoy fishing. But some of them do enjoy fishing.

Prionailurus viverrinus, a wild cat of medium size, that belongs to Asia, is generally called a fishing cat. These wild cats evolved around the same period as the Leopards. They live adjacent to water and are capable of swimming long distances. People have spotted them fishing near the riverbanks, while often diving to grab prey at longer distances.

Fish hold around three-quarters of these fishing cats’ diet. The rest of the diet includes birds, insects, and small mammals. Other breeds that love fishing and water as well are Jaguars and Leopards.

Do Cats Prefer Fish More than Any Other Meats

Whenever you have opened up any kind of canned fish and seen your cat’s craziness with excitement, it must have made you think that cats love fish more than anything else. As per statistics, cat owners like to feed their cats fish such as anchovies, sardines, and herrings of around 2.48 million tons.

But the truth is that a cat will have any kind of meaty food that you will offer it. It certainly has preference issues with the food texture or flavor. For instance, a cat may prefer turkey while the other one may crave tuna or salmon. The meats and flavors that cats mostly enjoy are beef, chicken, duck, liver, turkey, Sardines, Salmon, Tuna, and Venison.

Generally, a cat chooses its favorite meal depending on the various forms of dry and wet foods that are offered to it in several instances. Unless your feline has a solid preference for a particular type of meat, it will love any type of meat that you offer in its bowl!


Now, you must be clear about why cats like fish, and other related issues with it. So, take the right care of your adorable feline, and stay connected with us to know more about other issues related to your pet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  1. Do big cats like fish?

Ans: Here, big cats refer to lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards. They all will have fish when required but it won’t be their favorite prey item. Because fish are too small and hunting them is more difficult than other prey objects. But as mentioned earlier, jaguars and leopards are exceptions, they love fishing.

  1. Why do cats like fish food?

Ans: Ascats like fish, it’s quite obvious that they will like fish food too. We have already discussed the reasons above such as opportunistic feeders, carnivores, their co-existing with humans, and fish’s strong smell. 

  1. Why do cats like tuna?

Ans: Tuna’s strong smell or its robust flavor, whatever you call it, attracts cats to it. It’s said that if you want to feed medicine to your cat, just mix that with one spoonful of tuna fish. Tuna is not listed as a poisonous food for cats but you should feed your cat in moderation as excess can lead to health issues.

  1. Do cats like raw fish?

Ans: Cats may like raw fish. But you should never feed your cat raw fish because salmonella or E. coli can cause food poisoning. Apart from this, raw fish contains the thiaminase enzyme that destroys thiamine, a necessary Vitamin B in cats. According to Dr. Sally Perea, DVM, Neurological problems, even coma, and convulsions can be caused by thiamine deficiency.

  1. Do cats like fish skin?

Ans: Yes. Cats like fish skin because they love its taste. Fish skin has no carbohydrates and has protein and Omega 3 fatty acids in high levels, and fat in low levels. So, you can serve small fish skin pieces to your cat after cooking or drying out. But fish skin can contain harmful mercury.

  1. Can cats eat raw salmon?/Can cats eat raw fish?

Ans: No, cats can’t eat raw salmon/raw fish. As mentioned above in the 4th question’s reply. Any kind of raw fish, whether salmon or others, can be harmful to cats.

  1. Can cats eat cooked fish skin?

Ans: Yes. They can eat cooked fish skin. You can deep fry that with a little seasoning, or you can bake that with salt, and butter to serve as pet food or an appetizer to your cat.

  1. Can cats eat smoked fish?

Ans: No. Please don’t give your cat cured, canned, or smoked salmon because they have sodium in high levels that can be harmful to felines, and even cause death. In case you think that your cat has taken this sort of fish, take it to your vet immediately.

  1. What kind of nutrition can my cat get from fish?

Ans: Fish is a great source of taurine, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. All of these are essential nutrients for your cat to remain healthy. These nutrients can vary depending on the fish variety. Some fish can be more nutritious than others.

  1.  Can it be harmful to cats to have fish?

Ans: It’s not bad for cats to eat fish unless that is raw or your cat has an allergic reaction. Cats can also suffer from or develop allergic reactions like humans. A fish may contain histamine or protein that results in sensitivity or allergic reaction in a cat. The symptoms include coughing, sneezing, vomiting, swollen skin, hair loss, scratching, diarrhea, and lower urinary tract disease. 

  1.  What are the fish-feeding tips for my cat?

Ans: Choose low-mercury fish like cod, salmon, tilapia, sole, and crustaceans, and get it cooked. Among canned options, choose small ones like anchovies, herrings, and sardines that are preserved fully in water. Avoid the ones preserved in added ingredients or oil. Give fish around 15% of the cat’s diet. Boiled or grilled wild fish is the best to preserve each nutritional value.

  1. What precautions can I take while feeding fish to my cat?

Ans: Avoid any kind of cooked, smoked, canned, fried fish or fish fingers that are meant for human consumption. Avoid any type of flavorings, additives, or even seasonings to prevent intake of harmful content. Don’t give fish to the cat in excess because it can cause inflammatory bowel disease, urinary tract disease, and hyperthyroidism. Avoid fish meals containing the ethoxyquin preservative because it leads to animal health issues. Choose meals containing natural preservatives. 

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