One of the most searched topics on the forums is, 'is it okay to feed my cat chicken livers?' The short answer is yes, the long answer is but with caution.
Chicken livers are highly palatable to cats and they contain a number of great nutrients, some of which include:
- Vitamin B
- Folic acid
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
So, why is the answer both yes and no?
As you can see, liver contains many nutrients which are essential to good health, however, it is also where vitamin A is stored in the body (be it the chicken, cow, human etc), and as such, too much liver can lead to vitamin A toxicosis in cats.
Liver should only make up a small percentage of your cat's diet. 5% at most and only once or twice a week. Any more and you risk vitamin A toxicosis.
Another risk factor is that liver is highly palatable to cats and they can quickly become addicted to it and start to refuse other types of food. Aside from the dangers of vitamin A toxicosis, liver is not nutritionally balanced.
How do I prepare chicken liver for my cat?
Cats can eat chicken liver either raw or cooked. On their own (again, only a small amount), or mixed in with other meat such as beef chunks.
What about other chicken pieces?
Cats can eat chicken breast, thighs, necks. The meat can be fed raw or cooked. I always recommend only feeding human grade meat to animals and practice safe food handling.
Don't feed anything that you wouldn't eat yourself if it's too old for you, it's too old for your cat.
Cooked chicken is also highly palatable to cats and I have used it myself to encourage a sick cat to eat.
Chicken necks are great for your cat's dental hygiene. I give my cats necks two mornings a week. Never give your cat cooked chicken bones, including necks. Cooked chicken bones become very dry and brittle and can easily splinter inside your cat's mouth or gastrointestinal tract.
Any uneaten meat should be removed after 20 minutes.
Some veterinarians will prescribe a bland diet for your cat if he is recovering from an illness, particularly relating to his gastrointestinal tract. Chicken meat is often recommended as it is bland, easy to digest and most cats love it.
How to cook chicken for your cat:
Chicken (including livers) can be boiled, steamed or cooked in the oven. Obviously, no seasoning or herbs should be added. You can either cook the chicken whole or cut up. If it is whole, cooking times may take longer.
Bring a pot of water to the boil (just enough water to cook the chicken), add chicken, reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until cooked through. When feeding boiled chicken, you can add a little of the pan water to his food bowl along with the cooked chicken.
Bring a pot of water to the boil, place chicken in a steamer, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through.
Preheat oven to 180-200C, line a baking dish with baking paper, add chicken, bake for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Once cooked, allow to cool for a few minutes.
I have given my own cats leftovers from a roast chicken, but make sure it isn't overly seasoned and remove all bones. I don't recommend feeding your cat fried chicken.
Can I feed other types of liver to my cat?
Yes, you can also feed beef or lamb liver to your cat, but the same rules apply. No more than 5% and only once or twice a week.