Can Cat Eat Fish Bones Without Getting Choked? Here’s How To Keep Them Safe!

Cat characters eat fish bones on pretty much every cartoon we watched growing up. It’s like, dog is to bone and cat is to fish bone. Now it’s time for some real talk. Can cat eat fish bones? Are fish bones safe for cats? Can cats have bones in general?

We want to give our cats some variety when it comes to food choices, but sometimes we fall short because of our lack of knowledge about what is good for them and what isn’t.

But these days, we fur parents don’t have an excuse for not knowing better, because we now have access to helpful resources online. Good thing we’re here to do the research so you don’t have to.

Are Fish Bones Healthy for Cats?

Although it may seem natural to feed your cats fish bones, it can be risky to allow them to chow down on these sharp, brittle and tiny bones.

Just like other meat bones, fish bones contain calcium and phosphorus that can strengthen a cat’s bone health, but it lacks other nutrients required for your feline’s balanced diet.

They are a choking hazard for us humans, and they are even more dangerous for our cats because they can cause internal organ damage.

While cats are often seen on TV shows as constant fish bone eaters, that does not mean that fish bones are good for their health.

Cooked Fish Bones vs. Raw Fish Bones

If you are thinking of feeding fish bones to your cat, do not give them cooked fish bones. When  fish bones are cooked, they become harder, and therefore, more difficult to digest.

Fish Bones

This increases the chance of damaging your cat’s digestive system. Smaller pieces can snap and larger pieces can get stuck. 

Can cats have uncooked fish bones? Raw fish bones are not oxidized, so they are softer. Feeding your cats raw fish bones is safer, because cats can digest them more easily.

What Should You Do if Your Cat Consumed Fish Bones?

If your cat ate fish bones, make sure to observe their condition for the next few days. Even if cats can digest fish bones or spew them out, you need to pay attention to any of these symptoms to avoid any serious health problems from happening:

  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Change in behavior
  • Drowsiness or exhaustion

If you see your cat experiencing any of these, or if you notice them choking on fish bones, call an emergency vet right away.

What Can You Do To Keep Your Cat From Eating Fish Bones?

It won’t hurt to be more careful in feeding your cat. If you do feed cooked fish to your cat, the best option to prevent any choking or digestive problems is to remove the fish bones.

The extra cautious fur parent in us came up with some healthy yet tasty fish bone alternatives for your cat, because cats’ healthy treats don’t have to be bland and boring.

Safe Fish Bone Alternatives For Cats

Freeze-Dried Fish Cat Treats

Freeze-dried fish cat treats undergo a multi-step preservation process of freezing and drying to lock in important nutrients without adding preservatives.

You can breathe easier knowing that this method is all-natural. They also have a balanced distribution of macros and micronutrients, which makes them better than dry kibble and wet food.

cat treats

When you browse through freeze-dried cat food options, make sure to choose brands with GMO-free ingredients. If you have dogs, we also compiled the best freeze-dried dog treats for your furry buddies.

Jerky Cat Treats

Jerky cat treats are high in protein, and they’re perfect for a trip or a quick snack because you can serve them to your cat out of the bag. The best jerky to feed your cat is any kind that contains 90% meat, minimal carbs and without artificial flavoring.

Dental Cat Treats

Dental cat treats offer your cats fresher breath, and not only that, their texture and shape helps rub off plaque and tartar on your cat’s teeth, preventing them from any serious dental diseases. They are also a great way to keep your felines entertained.

Fish Broth

Fish broth is a safe and nutritious way to give fish to your cat. Your cat can take in the fish’s nutrients like iodine without choking hazards. Serving fish broth to your cat is also a tasty way to increase your cat’s water intake.

Don’t Fur-get to Read These FAQS

Is It Necessary for Cats To Consume Fish?

Cats love to eat fish because it smells heavenly to their nostrils. Fish is a common source of protein and healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6. It also has Taurine, a nutrient that is great for a cat’s eyesight.

The best fish to feed cats are sardines as they’re low in mercury and high in Omega-3 and Vitamin B12. Salmon is also a good choice as it is high in Vitamin D and DHA.

One thing to note though: Raw fish can be dangerous to your cat due to its thiaminase content that leads to thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency.

What Bones Can Cats Eat?

The best bones that cats can eat are raw chicken bones with emphasis on the “raw.” Cooked meat bones, just like cooked fish bones, are harder and more difficult to digest.

We recommend neck and wing bones from chicken, as they’re just the right size for a cat. Larger bones like beef bones can cause damage to your beloved cat’s teeth.

Can Cats Eat Small Fish Bone?

We don’t advise small fish bones or splintered bones to be given to your cat, as they are more likely to cause choking and injure your cat’s larynx. When the larynx is injured, it can cause difficulty in breathing.

Is It Ok To Feed Cats Fish Heads?

It is okay to feed cats fish heads only if they are properly cooked. We recommend steaming or poaching them. Don’t feed your cats raw whole fish heads, as they are big enough to harm your cat’s teeth.

fish heads next to tomatoes

Can Cats Eat Sardines With Bones?

Sardines have small, soft and flexible bones, making them easier for cats to digest than the bones of larger fish.

If you plan on cooking the sardines for your cat, it is still best to remove the bones. Although, canned sardines’ bones are softer as they tend to dissolve in the preservation process.


Fish bones offer more harm than help to your cats. Their size and sharpness can cause tooth problems, digestive tract abrasions, choking, or worse, suffocation. Your cat’s meals should be nutritious, delicious and delightful, not painful and risky.

So, can cat eat fish bones without getting choked? There is a higher chance of them choking if they eat cooked fish bones. To ensure your cat’s safety, avoid feeding them cooked fish bones at all times. The best way to go is still to serve them raw fish bones occasionally, as they are easier to ingest.

Your feline friend deserves to enjoy good food without compromising its wellness, so you can turn to the fish bone alternatives we mentioned above. Who knows? One of those options might be your cat’s new favorite!

As a responsible cat owner, you learn something new about caring for your cat every day, and that includes what food to give them. Showbiz portrays our pets in the media in a variety of ways, and some info can be inaccurate, just like pairing a cat with a fish bone.

It is eye-opening when you discover how risky it actually is to feed fish bones to your cats, and it is our sworn duty as fur parents to bust those myths to keep other pet owners from making serious mistakes.

Let us know what pet topic we should dive into next. If you need more tips on how to be the best fur parent in the world, send us a message!

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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