Can Cats Eat Turkey? A Comprehensive Guide

Cats are known for their love of meat, but can they safely enjoy a Thanksgiving feast? Find out if it's okay to let your feline friend enjoy some turkey.
Can Cats Eat turkey?

Yes, cats can eat turkey in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Turkey can be a good protein source for cats, providing essential nutrients and hydration. However, it is important to feed them cooked turkey without any bones or seasonings, and in small portions to avoid digestive issues.

Benefits of Turkey for Cats

Lean Protein Source

Turkey is a lean protein source that can provide many nutritional benefits for cats. It is low in fat and provides the necessary amino acids for maintaining healthy muscles and overall body functions.

Essential Nutrient Content


Turkey is a good source of niacin, a B-vitamin that is essential for maintaining a healthy metabolism and energy production.

Vitamin B6

Turkey also contains vitamin B6, which is important for proper brain development and function, as well as supporting the nervous system.


Phosphorus is another essential nutrient found in turkey. It helps to strengthen bones and teeth, and supports kidney function.

Hydration Benefits

Turkey can also be a good source of hydration for cats, as it is about 70% water. Proper hydration is important for maintaining overall health and preventing urinary tract issues.

Risks of Feeding Turkey to Cats

Turkey Bones

Splintering and Choking Hazards

Turkey bones can splinter and create choking hazards for cats. Splintered bones can also cause internal damage to the digestive system.

Internal Damage Risks

Ingested bone fragments can potentially puncture or obstruct the gastrointestinal tract, causing severe complications and requiring veterinary intervention.

Seasonings and Additives

Harmful Ingredients

Seasonings and additives commonly used in preparing turkey, such as garlic, onions, and salt, can be harmful to cats. These ingredients can cause toxicity and lead to health issues.

Potential Toxicity

Ingredients like garlic and onion can cause anemia in cats, while excessive salt intake can lead to increased blood pressure and kidney issues.

Overfeeding Risks

Digestive Issues

Feeding too much turkey to cats can cause digestive issues such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Weight Gain and Obesity

Excessive consumption of turkey can also contribute to weight gain and obesity, which can lead to other health issues like diabetes and heart disease.

Safe Feeding Guidelines for Cats

Portion Size Considerations

When feeding turkey to cats, it is important to monitor their portion size to avoid overfeeding. Plain, cooked turkey can be used as a treat or part of a complete and balanced meal.

Treat Frequency

Feeding turkey as a treat should be limited to occasional use to prevent overconsumption and maintain a well-balanced diet.

Importance of Balanced Diet

In addition to providing lean protein, it is essential to ensure that cats receive all necessary nutrients from their diet, including vitamins, minerals, and appropriate fat content.

Monitoring Overall Food Intake

Keeping track of your cat's overall food intake, including treats, can help prevent obesity and maintain optimal health.

Alternatives to Turkey for Cats

Other Lean Protein Sources

If you're looking for alternatives to turkey, other lean protein sources like chicken or fish can also be fed to cats in moderation.

Commercial Cat Food Options

A well-formulated commercial cat food will provide all the necessary nutrients for your cat, so occasional treats like turkey should not serve as the primary food source.


In conclusion, cats can safely eat turkey in moderation as part of a balanced diet. It is important to feed them cooked turkey without any bones or seasonings and in small portions to avoid digestive issues. By following these guidelines, turkey can be a healthy and enjoyable treat for your feline friend. Remember to monitor their overall food intake and maintain a well-balanced diet for optimal health.

Medically Reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM

Ivana is a DVM with a specialty in domestic carnivores – dogs & cats. She is passionate about educating pet owners and raising awareness about pet health.

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