Cats Love Fish, But Can Cats Eat Anchovies?

can cats eat anchovies

You see it everywhere, cats eating fish in cat food ads, cute images on the web, and viral videos of felines munching on fish. But can they eat anchovies? What happens if you give your cat a can of anchovies? Is it good for them, or should you avoid feeding anchovies to your kitty? If you’ve always thought about feeding your cat these small “forage fish” varieties, read this guide first before buying anchovies for your cat.

Can Cats Eat Anchovies?

The answer is a big yes, cats can eat anchovies, and they love it, too. Just as how much they love to eat fish, cats love eating these small, slender fish often foraged by bigger fish in the sea. But just like all things, feeding anchovies to cats must be made in moderation. Anchovies may be nutritious but they don’t contain all of the nutrients cats need for daily consumption. Consider anchovies as a snack or treat rather than a main diet staple for your pet cat.

Giving your cat one or two anchovies every day is okay. It’s completely safe, and healthy, and your cat will surely enjoy nibbling on the small fish. They’re a great source of protein with 7 grams in one piece of anchovy and other nutrients like Vitamin D, A, E, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can feed your fish dried, canned, or cooked fresh anchovies. However, you must always take note of added ingredients found in canned or cooked anchovies because they might be toxic to cats such as onion, garlic, and chives.

fried anchovies
Fried anchovies is not the best for cats

What are the Advantages of Cats Eating Anchovies?

The advantages of feeding anchovies to your cat are the nutrients found in the fish. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals that will make your cat healthier. Here are the most important nutrients in anchovies that are beneficial for cats:

Vitamin B12

This vitamin helps to improve your cat’s energy levels. If your cat has been lethargic or depressed, vitamin B12 can help wake it up. B12 also promotes liver health.

Vitamin D

Cats don’t get Vitamin D from sunlight, which means they need to get it elsewhere, and the best source of the vitamin for them is through their diet. Anchovies contain high levels of Vitamin D that boosts your cat’s immune system and anti-inflammatory properties that are beneficial for cats that may be suffering from joint pain or arthritis.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids boost your cat’s brain function, promote healthy and supple skin, and have anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps to keep your cat’s coat healthy and shiny. Other beneficial nutrients in anchovies for your cat include selenium, taurine, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E.

Though you might be tempted to give your cat anchovies in every meal, you also need to know that there are a few disadvantages to giving them to your cat. That is why moderation is always crucial when introducing new food items to your cat. Giving your cat commercial cat food designed to provide your feline friend with its daily nutritional needs is still the best way to feed your cat.

Additional reading

What are the Disadvantages of Cats Eating Anchovies?

Anchovies may be healthy and delicious for cats, but there are also risks involved when feeding them to your cat. Here are some disadvantages of cats eating anchovies:

Kittens May Experience Gastrointestinal Blockage

Anchovies that still have their bones, tail, and other body parts may pose a choking or blockage risk to small kittens. Their mouths and throats may also be too small to handle the bones in anchovies, although soft, might experience discomfort and split from the bones. Avoid giving kittens anchovies until they get a little older.

Though Rare, There is a Risk of Mercury Poisoning

High levels of mercury are usually found in bigger fish, but there remains a risk since anchovies are saltwater fish. Build up of mercury in fish can be toxic, leading to vomiting and dizziness in cats.

Dependency on Anchovies in the Diet

If your cat loves anchovies so much, you might be tempted to feed it to your pet kitty as a regular diet staple. While giving your cat one or two pieces of anchovies daily is okay, it should not exceed this number. Your cat’s diet should not consist of more than 2% of its regular diet of commercial cat food. Once you open a can of anchovies, give your cat a piece or two, store the rest in a seal-tight container and place it in a fridge.

can cats eat artichokes
Cat hungry for anchovies?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Feed Canned Anchovies to Your Cat?

Yes, you can; however, make sure you read about other ingredients included in the anchovies, such as olive oil, spices, or vegetables like carrots. Make sure there is no onion, garlic, or chives as these are toxic to cats. Olive oil is safe for cats, but it’s best to remove the oil as much as possible since cats can’t digest olive oil properly since it’s plant-based. Cats don’t have the enzyme needed to digest plant-based food properly, and eating too much olive oil may result in stomach upsets like diarrhea and vomiting.

Can You Feed Dried Anchovies to Your Cat?

Yes, dried anchovies are a great treat for your cat, as it’s convenient. It doesn’t have any liquid or moisture, so if you’re traveling, you can pack a few pieces in a Ziploc bag and feed it to your cat as a treat. Dried anchovies, however, may have high levels of salt, which is used to hasten the drying process of anchovies. Sodium poisoning is real in cats and can lead to dehydration, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Can You Feed Raw Anchovies to Your Cat?

It is best that you don’t feed raw anchovies to your cat because fresh anchovies may contain parasites or bacteria that can cause digestive issues in cats and can even be fatal. Only feed your cat-cooked or canned anchovies, as the cooking, drying, or freezing processes kill parasites or bacteria that may be present in raw anchovies.


Anchovies are a great treat for cats and are highly nutritious. It is packed with vitamins D, A, E, and B12 and a good source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. While anchovies are a healthy treat, you shouldn’t give your cat more than one to two pieces because it’s still considered a snack or treat rather than the main food staple in a cat’s diet. Cooked, canned, or frozen anchovies are best given to your cat, and avoid raw anchovies at all times to prevent your cat from consuming bacteria or parasites that can lead to health issues.

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