close up of a grey tabby cat eating raw chicken from a bowl

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

Can cats eat raw chicken? Is raw chicken good for cats? Broadly speaking raw chicken, chicken giblets, breasts, livers and skin is all ok to give to your cat – you just need to wash items thoroughly to reduce the risk of your cat contracting salmonella.

It’s Tuesday night, and you’re in the kitchen prepping some chicken for your world-famous alfredo. As you dice the cutlets, you notice your cat wander into the room. She starts figure-eighting between your legs, mewing softly, as if to say, “that smells great. Can I have some, please?”

You’ve heard the horror stories of humans getting infections with salmonella and other nasty bugs by eating raw chicken; could that happen to your kitty? Is feeding them raw chicken safe?

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

As a straightforward answer, yes, you can feed your cat raw chicken, and it won’t harm them in any way. Think about it, how many times have you caught your cat with a dead animal in the yard? Some cats even bring their owner’s bodies of rats and birds they kill and dump them at your feet.

Feral cats that don’t have a home survive almost exclusively on rodents and birds they catch in the wild. Sure, feral cats might not be the healthiest animals, but their diet isn’t what kills them; it’s the parasites and pathogens in the prey that end up getting them, not the meat itself.

a calico cat eating raw chicken from a bowl
Tortoiseshell And White Cat Eating Raw Chicken

After all, a chicken is just a bird, right? It’s not like you’re catching it down the street, you’re buying prepared, skinless chicken breasts at the supermarket, and that’s a very different kind of meat to what feral cats chase around all day.

Your chicken breasts don’t have any parasites or pathogens wandering around the meat, so there shouldn’t be an issue feeding it to your cat.

So, can you just load your cat’s diet with raw chicken from now on? Well, the answer is a bit more complicated than just a simple yes. There are several reasons why feeding your kitty an all-raw chicken or raw meat diet is a bad idea.

The Cat – An Obligate Carnivore

Before we get into why feeding your cat a raw chicken diet is a bad idea, let’s unpack your cat’s physiology to get a better understanding of their dietary needs.

Feral cats, i.e., cats in the wild, exist solely on a diet of meat. The cat’s digestive system evolved over thousands of years to digest raw meat from rodents, another prey it catches in the wild.

Farmers domesticated cats thousands of years ago, using the animals to keep rodent populations out of harvested brain crops. The cats would prowl the storage facilities, eating rodents they found snacking on the grains.

Understanding the Nutritional Requirements of Your Cat

Since cats are obligate carnivores, they get all the nutrition they need from meat. Since cats are typically dining on small rodents in a natural environment, their digestive system evolved to handle processing lean raw meat.

As a result of these nutritional requirements, more than 95% of your cat’s dietary requirements come from the protein it gets from meat, with the balance being fat. The cat’s digestive system doesn’t have the capacity to digest carbohydrates.

It’s for this reason that many cats have a hard time adjusting to kibble cat food products. Many cats end up developing food aversions, requiring a specialized diet.

cat eating raw chicken wings with bones
Longhaired Calico Eating Raw Chicken Wings

Is Kibble Bad for My Cat?

No, generally, all kibble products are safe for your cat to eat. Kibble is a bit of a controversial area right now. While kibble will give your cat the essential nutrients they need to survive; it may cause complications with your cat’s digestive tract.

If you find your cat seems to be getting fatter and she’s not using her litterbox, she may have a blockage in her gut. It’s a common problem with certain breeds, such as the British Shorthair. The backup can occur for several reasons, from overgrooming to feeding your cat the wrong type of kibble.

As mentioned, cats evolved to eat meat. As obligate carnivores, they don’t have the natural capacity to eat kibble. Therefore, some vets may advise you to feed your cat a raw chicken or meat diet if they have problems digesting kibble or other wet cat food products.

a cat eating kibble

Is Raw Chicken Good Nutrition For Your Cat?

So, raw chicken for cats actually presents an optimal food to feed your kitty. Chicken breast is lean and high in protein, just what your cat needs to thrive.

Raw chicken also contains minimal amounts of fat, and its high in taurine and Vitamin B12, which as essential for your cat’s health. Feeding your cat a raw chicken meal a few times a week is a great way to give them a treat while improving their nutrition.

Can Raw Chicken Make Your Cat Sick?

You’ve probably heard someone say that you should never eat raw chicken. You’ll probably hear the word “salmonella” mentioned somewhere in the conversation if you pay attention.

Salmonella is a bacterial pathogen found on the surface of raw chicken and chicken eggs. It’s important to note that this pathogen is only present on the surface, not inside the meat or eggs.

As a result, cooking chicken infected with salmonella kills the pathogen, making it safe to eat. While it’s true that salmonella is a risk, the reality is that it’s rarely present on chicken or eggs. You probably have a better chance of a lightning strike killing you than getting a salmonella infection from eating raw chicken.

Even if salmonella is present on the chicken, washing the cutlets thoroughly underwater before trimming and cutting should remove the majority, if not all, of the pathogen from the meat. In short, you don’t have to worry about infecting your kitty with salmonella from feeding them raw chicken.

Studies from the USDA show around 3.8% of chicken samples tested experience contamination with salmonella. We’ll take those odds. Just wash the chicken properly, and you won’t have any problems.

Listeria can also potentially prove to be a problem. Listeria is a foodborne bacteria that can cause listeriosis. This generally causes problems for old, young, sick or pregnant cats and is treated with antbiotics. They are as likely to catch listeriosis from garbage and wild animals as from raw chicken.

close up of a black, grey and sand tabby with long whiskers yawning

What are the Risks of Feeding Your Cat Raw Chicken?

We’ve already discussed the issue of possible salmonella and listeria infection in your cat. Pathogens on the meat can cause problems, but it’s very rare that any cat comes down with issues from either.

Besides the minimal risk of infection, the issue with feeding your cat some raw chicken is that you’ll change their appetite. When cats get too much of a good thing, they might decide to turn their nose up at their old cat food, demanding you feed them raw chicken every day.

That gets expensive, and any cat owner will end up paying a hefty amount for their cat food bill each month feeding their pet some raw chicken.

Feeding your cat a raw chicken diet may also change their behavior and personality. When cats receive a raw diet, their character seems to somewhat revert to their wild nature. As a result, your cat may become more aggressive and short-tempered, and they may start wandering during the day or night.

How Do I Safely Feed Raw Chicken to My Cat?

Typically, you’ll purchase your chicken from the supermarket and take it home. Clean the cutlets, and then make sure you give the fillets a thorough washing under the tap before dicing. This washing should remove any parasites or pathogens lurking on the outside of the chicken.

Some pet food brands offer frozen chicken fillets specifically for cats. These fillets have a special processing method ensuring no pathogens o0r parasites are present on the meat.

However, we feel these products are over-hyped, and we think you’ll do fine with washing your chicken breasts at home.

dilute calico cat eating chicken bones under a tree

Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken FAQ

Q: Can Cats Eat Chicken Bones?

A: Yes, but be careful not to give your cat cooked chicken bones. Cooked chicken bones become brittle and splinter and can be dangerous for your cat!

Q: Can Your Cat Eat Raw Chicken Neck?

A: No, chicken necks contain small bones that present a choking hazard to your cat. Feed them diced chicken breast only.

Q: Can Your Cat Eat Raw Chicken Livers?

A: Yes, your cat will love chicken livers. The liver is an important source of Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient for your cat. B12 helps the cat regulate its nervous, digestive, and immune systems, ensuring she stays in perfect health. Cats with B12 deficiencies end up developing health problems.

Q: Can Your Cat Eat Raw Chicken Organs?

A: Yes, your cat will love organ meats like kidneys and liver and other chicken giblets. These raw options are actually healthier for your cat than diced chicken breast. The organ meats contain higher amounts of vitamins and minerals like taurine, which your cat needs to thrive.

Q: Is Raw Chicken Safe for Kittens?

A: Yes, you can feed raw chicken to kittens after they finish weaning off milk. Make sure you’re giving them diced chicken breast or organ meats with no bones to prevent choking.

In Closing – Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

Yes, you can feed your cat raw chicken, but we recommend keeping it o a treat rather than a staple. Feeding your kitty a chicken meal once or twice a week is great for their health, and we recommend going with organ meats like livers over diced breasts.