Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken? Health Benefits and Potential Side Effects

Is Raw Chicken Bad For Cats?

Picture this!

You’re in the kitchen, struggling to prepare a sumptuous chicken dinner. As you chop the poultry into pieces, your cat emerges out of nowhere and begins meowing for some bites.

You try to ignore the cat, hoping that it will grow weary and leave you alone. But unknown to you, you’re only inadvertently encouraging the meowing.

Before you know it, your feline friend begins to claw at your legs, suggesting that it’s really getting impatient. The more you ignore the cat, the more worked up the animal gets.

Finally, you decide to give in. You cut a chunk off the meat and throw it to your feline friend. The cat blissfully gobbles down the piece of meat.

But after a few hours, something just doesn’t look right with your furry friend. The cat starts to vomit, which is followed by diarrhea, dehydration, and fatigue. Your feline friend is now teetering on the brink of death.
So, you do what any loving and responsible cat owner would do – schedule a visit to the vet. The vet diagnoses your cat with food poisoning and these findings send some cold shivers down your spine. You’re left wondering, is raw chicken bad for cats?

Technically, raw chicken isn’t bad for cats. That means you can feed raw chicken to your feline friend without worrying about any immediate health concerns. But there’s a caveat; the chicken must be fresh and free from harmful bacteria.

Is raw chicken good for cats then?

Yes, it is. There are numerous ways your cat can benefit from eating raw chicken, and this post shall highlight some of those benefits.

Similarly, we shall look at the several things that could go wrong if you offer raw chicken to your cat without observing certain expert guidelines. And if you decide to feed raw chicken to your kitto, this post will suggest the most appropriate way to go about it.

Read on for more insights on cats and raw chicken.

Is It Safe To Feed My Cat Raw Chicken?

Yes, it’s absolutely safe to feed raw chicken to your cat. As you may already know, cats are obligate carnivores, which implies that they can live exclusively on a diet of animal protein.

And like most other carnivorous animals, cats don’t mind consuming their meals raw.

Can raw chicken make cats sick?

Cats may have lived with humans for thousands of years. However, they’ve retained most of their natural instincts, one of which is eating raw meat.

Indeed, you may have observed that upon hunting down rats, mice, or birds, your cat doesn’t mind eating the animal raw.

In fact, cats tend to eat all the parts of an animal, including the fur, feathers, bones, intestines, and other organs.

However, it’s also worth noting that all animal proteins are not made equal. Naturally, a cat thrives on a diet that’s high in protein, moderate in fat, and contains reduced amounts of carbohydrates.

Kittens are an exception to this rule, as they tend to require more calories and fats in their diet.

For the most part, cats can eat raw chicken without suffering any food poisoning issues, and there are two possible explanations for that.

First, cats have a rather short alimentary canal. And secondly, their stomach contains highly-acidic digestive juices. Therefore, a cat’s stomach can fully digest raw chicken and release it for absorption before the harmful bacteria have a chance to grow.

So, is it okay for my cat to eat raw chicken?

Yes, and the following section shall highlight some of the health benefits of raw chicken for cats.

Top Raw Chicken Benefits for Cats

Chicken is the most popular white meat option that vets recommend for cats, closely followed by fish and other seafood.

As a white meat, chicken is famous for its ability to maintain a healthy heart and keep cardiovascular diseases at bay.

The following are some of the top ways that your cat can benefit from eating raw chicken.

1. Rich Source of Protein

Chicken is a rich source of lean and low-fat protein. Lean protein contributes to the growth and development of your cat’s muscles.

And the fact that the chicken in question is raw means that your cat gets to enjoy all these proteins in their native form.

Foods that are high in proteins are also known for their ability to help manage weight by regulating the normal blood sugar level.

2. Great for the Heart

As we’ve already mentioned, a healthy heart is one of the top reasons why experts recommend white meat, such as poultry and fish.

Chicken, especially chicken breast, regulates the levels of homocysteine amino acids in your cat’s body. Abnormally high homocysteine levels are associated with cardiovascular disease.

3. Supports Teeth, Bones, and Organ Health

Raw chicken is rich in phosphorus. This mineral performs numerous functions in your cat’s body. Most notably, it promotes the health of bones and teeth, as well as organs like the liver and kidney.

And that begs the question, can cats with kidney disease eat raw chicken? And what about diabetic cats, can diabetic cats eat raw chicken?

As raw chicken promotes the health of various internal organs, cats with kidney disease can safely eat raw chicken, as can diabetic and even arthritic cats.

Besides supporting your cat’s teeth, bones, and internal organs, phosphorus also improves the animal’s central nervous system function.

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4. Supports Metabolism

Raw chicken also contains the essential mineral selenium, which boosts metabolic performance.

In addition, the mineral plays a crucial role in promoting the health of your kitto’s thyroid glands, as well as immune and hormonal functions.

Still on enhancing metabolism, raw chicken is rich in B-complex vitamins which are also linked to increased metabolism and energy levels.

5. Prevents Disease

There are numerous mineral elements in raw chicken that can strengthen your cat’s immune system, either by preventing the occurrence of disease or escalating the recovery process.

A notable mention is B-complex vitamins which might cushion your cat from various chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and feline arthritis.

Chicken is also abundant in riboflavin, which can improve your cat’s skin by working on dry and damaged areas on the animal’s coat.

6. Natural Anti-depressant

Like humans, cats also suffer from various anxiety and depression. A common anxiety disorder in cats is known as separation anxiety.

Fortunately, raw chicken contains tryptophan, an amino acid that’s famous for its anxiety-relieving and mood-elevating effects.

7. Improves Eye Health

Cats rely heavily on their senses of sight, smell, and hearing. And it’s reassuring to note that raw chicken is rich in retinol, lycopene, as well as alpha- and beta-carotene, all of which are useful in promoting eye health.

8. Improves Brain Function

This is another area where your feline friend can immensely benefit from consuming raw chicken. Raw chicken contains choline and Vitamin B12.

Collectively, these minerals aid in the development of your cat’s brain. That makes raw chicken one of the most recommended foods for pregnant cats.

9. Improves Hydration

Raw chicken contains more fluids compared to dry cat food. That makes it the preferable option for cats that are battling with dehydration.

The high water content in raw chicken also means that the food is highly filling.

Therefore, you can use it to manage the food portions that your cat eats, as a measure to guard against obesity and other weight-related complications.

10. A Nice Treat

Raw chicken is tasty. But it’s not the kind of food that your feline friend gets to eat every day. Therefore, you can use it as an occasional snack that you reward your cat with.

For instance, you can treat your kitto to raw chicken if the cat puts up a stellar performance during routine feline training.

Health Benefits of Raw Chicken for Cats

Will Raw Chicken Hurt A Cat? Here Are the Potential Health Risks

We’ve already highlighted the benefits of raw chicken for cats. But as we pointed out earlier, there are several potential risks of feeding raw chicken to your feline friend.

So, you might be wondering, what if my cat eats raw chicken, are there adverse health implications I should watch out for?

The following are some of the potential risks of raw chicken for cats.

1. Harmful Bacteria and Parasites

This is unarguably the greatest danger of feeding raw chicken to cats.

Like most raw meats, raw chicken contains lots of bacteria and parasites which might make your cat sick.

Many cat owners often wonder, can raw chicken make cats sick?

Unfortunately, raw chicken can make your cat very sick. And the fact that cats have a short digestive tract and a highly-acidic stomach doesn’t make them totally immune from food poisoning.

Numerous studies commissioned by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that up to 3.8% of young chicken samples were contaminated with harmful bacteria and parasites.

That’s mostly due to the fact that these chickens are fed with artificial feeds, ostensibly to have them grow faster so they’re ready for the market soonest.

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Here are some of the bacteria that are usually found in raw chicken.

1. Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that causes salmonellosis in cats, an acute infection that could wreak havoc in your cat’s gastrointestinal system.

Maybe you’ve always asked yourself, can cats get sick if they eat raw chicken?

They sure can. And the bad news is that there are more than 2,000 forms of salmonella bacteria, and raw chicken can contain more than one form of these bacteria. The two most common ones include Salmonella gastroenteritis and Salmonella septicemia.

Salmonella gastroenteritis accounts for the highest cases of salmonellosis, and produces symptoms that primarily manifest in stomach upset and gastrointestinal complications.

On the other hand, Salmonella septicemia becomes an issue when it reaches the bloodstream, where it can cause a full-blown disease.

The following are some of the symptoms caused by Salmonella gastroenteritis.

  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Dehydration,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Rapid weight loss,
  • Depression,
  • Fever (body temperature above 102.5º Fahrenheit)
  • Swollen lymph nodes, and
  • Fatigue

Salmonella septicemia symptoms include;

  • Trouble breathing,
  • Jaundice,
  • A drastic drop in a cat’s body temperature, and
  • Distended abdomen

What if my cat eats raw chicken?
Salmonellosis is a deadly infection. Therefore, it’s wise to consult your vet as soon as you spot any of the above symptoms.

Waiting any longer not only puts your cat’s life in danger, but yours as well. Remember that salmonella are zoonotic, which means that humans and other animals can contract them from cat feces.

2. Staphylococcus Aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is another bacterium that’s usually present in raw chicken.

One of the worst things about this bacterium is that it’s highly opportunistic. Therefore, your cat can live with it without showing any symptoms.

In the meantime, it could be slowly ravaging your kitto’s internal organs. If your cat has a suppressed immune system, it may develop a severe disease known as a staph infection, or even die without warning.

So, can cats die from eating raw chicken?

If you’re one of the cat owners who often wonders, can raw chicken kill a cat, it will interest you to know that raw chicken can, indeed, kill your cat.

In most cases, the death is gradual and not instant. But when it comes to opportunistic parasites like Staphylococcus aureus, your feline friend can die even before you can notice any signs of a severe infection.

Symptoms of a staph infection include;

  • Skin blisters,
  • Swollen skin that’s tender to the touch,
  • Painful lumps, sores, and bumps, and
  • Redness around the eyes

If these symptoms are not treated with the urgency it deserves, the condition might degenerate into blood poisoning. Like Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus is also highly zoonotic, which makes it exceedingly difficult to handle cats with this condition.

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3. Campylobacter Jejuni

Campylobacter jejuni causes an infection called campylobacteriosis.

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, raw chicken is one of the most common ways that cats can get exposed to Campylobacter jejuni bacteria.

The good news, though, is that campylobacteriosis is more common in kittens and cats with compromised immune systems. It’s hardly ever a concern for older cats.

Symptoms of the infection include;

  • Fever,
  • Swollen lymph nodes,
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Dehydration, and
  • Sudden weight loss.

Like Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus, campylobacteriosis is zoonotic.

4. Listeria

Listeria monocytogenes, simply known as Listeria, is another bacteria that you should never wish that your feline friend comes in contact with.

Though it’s more common in cattle, soil, and water, raw chicken also contains a fair share of these bacteria.

While it’s a potentially deadly bacteria, most cats can process Listeria monocytogenes without trouble. It’s mostly a concern for older, sickly, pregnant, or other cats with suppressed immunity. Exposure usually causes a condition known as listeriosis.

Cute Red Cat

Listeriosis symptoms include;

  • Vomiting and Diarrhea,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Fever,
  • Facial paralysis,
  • Muscle stiffness and lameness,
  • Abdominal pain, and
  • Fatigue

Now, when it comes to bacteria in raw chicken, there’s a saving grace. Commercially-available raw chicken is usually manufactured using high-pressure pasteurization processing (HPP).

This technology kills all the harmful bacteria without destroying much of the nutrients in raw chicken.

5. Harmful Preservatives

Besides the long list of toxic bacteria that raw chicken has, there are also risks of harmful preservatives to contend with. This is mostly a problem with cheap commercial cat foods, which usually contain ingredients like salt and fat.

High salt content in cat food causes a condition known as sodium ion poisoning.

This disease manifests in gastrointestinal issues, body tremors, and anemia-like symptoms. On the other hand, excess oil and fat comes with risks of obesity and other weight-related diseases.

6. Bones

Earlier on, we mentioned that cats should not have a problem eating raw chicken bones. However, chicken bones still carry significant danger for felines, especially considering that chicken contain a whopping 120 bones.

Choking is the first obvious risk of raw chicken bones for cats. Also, raw chicken bones are somewhat brittle.

Red cat licking chicken


Therefore, if your cat bites through them, they tend to splinter. These splinters might cut inside of your cat’s mouth, throat, or internal organs.

Raw chicken bones might also get attracted between your cat’s teeth, causing a lot of discomfort.

In addition to the above risks, raw chicken also has a lower nutritional profile compared to other animal proteins, especially with regards to essential amino acids.

The body of cats require the following amino acids to function properly;

  • Taurine,
  • Methionine,
  • Cysteine, and
  • Arginine

Unfortunately, raw chicken lacks in the amino acid taurine, which cats happen to require in large quantities. Taurine deficiency is linked to hair loss and reproductive issues.

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What Parts of Raw Chicken Can Cats Eat?

Chicken comes in numerous parts, and you might be wondering which part is ideal for your feline friend.

First and foremost, here’s a review of the most popular chicken parts, along with the mineral elements that each part comes with.

✔ Breast – Taurine
✔ Thigh – Taurine
✔ Liver – Vitamin A and iron
✔ Heart – Taurine, iron, niacin, and Vitamins A, B6, and B12
✔ Goblets – Vitamins A and B12, as well as iron, niacin, and riboflavin

Can I feed my cat raw chicken breast?

Chicken breast boasts a high content of the essential amino acid taurine, making it ideal for cats.

Can my cat eat raw chicken necks?

Yes, chicken necks contain soft and small bones that your cat shouldn’t have a problem chewing. Plus, the bones are loaded with calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

Can cats eat raw chicken wings?

Chicken wings pack minerals that can boost your cat’s immune system and improve its dental development, which makes the wings safe for cats to eat.

And like chicken necks, chicken wings also contain soft and small bones that cats can easily chew.

White Cat Licking His Lips

Can cats eat raw chicken bones?

Chicken bones are a bit of a hot issue for cats, and it’s not unusual to come across a cat owner wondering, my cat ate raw chicken bones, what should I do?

Raw chicken bones are comparably softer than bones from other meats, and cats shouldn’t have a problem chewing them.

However, chicken bones are quite brittle. When your cat tears through them, the bones might splinter, causing damage to your cat’s mouth, gut, or stomach.

If you must feed your cat chicken bones, you’re better off with finely-ground bones. Does that make chicken mince the better option, can cats eat raw chicken mince?

Yes. Since chicken mince is softer and easier to digest, it’s more recommended for cats compared to chicken bones. That’s especially true for cats with dental formula issues, such as kittens and senior cats.

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Can cats eat raw chicken skin?

Raw chicken skin is often high in fat, which might be a bit of a problem for your feline friend. And that might also get you wondering, can cats eat raw chicken fat?

The high fat content in chicken skin may expose your cat to obesity. But the softness of the skin means your cat won’t have a problem chewing it.

Can cats eat raw chicken feet?

Yes, just ensure you remove the talons which might cause choking hazards. And what about legs, can cats eat raw chicken legs?

Chicken legs and feet are both perfectly okay for cats.

Can cats eat raw chicken hearts?

Yes. Taurine, iron, and niacin are some of the essential minerals that your cat can enjoy from eating chicken hearts.

Can I feed my cat raw chicken liver?

Chicken liver is rich in iron, Vitamin A and B, copper, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. So, your cat will definitely benefit a lot from eating chicken liver. Plus, the organ is incredibly soft, making it easy for the cat to chew and swallow them.

cute cat eating food

Can my cat eat other chicken organs?

Most chicken organs contain the amino acid taurine, which makes them okay for cats to eat.

Can cats eat raw chicken giblets?

Chicken giblets are fine for cats too. Not only are they nutritious, but are also soft, hence easy for cats to chew.

What’s The Best Way to Feed Raw Chicken to Cats?

If you’ve decided to give your cat raw chicken, there are a few expert guidelines to observe.

First and foremost, you must ensure that the chicken is free from harmful bacteria. Experts advise wearing gloves while handling raw chicken.

Also, avoid feeding your cat raw chicken that has been sitting for hours, or one that was stored under unideal temperature conditions. The next thing to do is debone the chicken.

Here’s how to go about it;

i. Get a knife that’s intended for deboning
ii. Turn your chicken upside down
iii. Cut alongside the ribcage to open up the chicken
iv. Carefully remove the wishbone
v. Continue cutting along the ribcage till you find all the other remaining bones
vi. Turn your chicken over and repeat the process

After deboning your chicken, you can chop it into small pieces and mix it into your cat’s regular food.

raw chicken breast

However, while you may have succeeded in taking care of the choking hazards, note that it’s almost impossible to have bacteria-free raw chicken.

And this is where you should now consider cooking your chicken as opposed to serving it to the cat raw. But do cats prefer raw or cooked chicken?

While most wild cats, such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs, prefer their meats raw, your domestic cat doesn’t mind eating cooked chicken.

Not only is cooked chicken tenderer and tastier, but cooking also helps to destroy harmful pathogens that raw chicken usually harbor.

Now, you may be wondering, how do I cook chicken for my cat and can cats eat fried chicken?

The best way to cook chicken for your cat is to boil or steam the meat in moderate heat. You shouldn’t fry the chicken as that would expose your cat to unhealthy fat content. When done, serve the chicken to your cat without adding any salt, onions, garlic, or other spices.

There’s also the question of portions, and some cat owners may be asking, how much raw chicken should I feed my cat?

Raw or cooked, cats should only eat chicken in moderation, especially if the chicken in question is home-prepared. According to vets, cats should eat only between 2% and 4% of their whole body weight.

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Other Frequently Asked Questions about Cats and Raw Chicken

Can cats eat expired raw chicken?

Since chicken is such a tasty treat for cats, some cat owners could be wondering, can cats eat out-of-date raw chicken?

The answer is a resounding no. Cats should only eat fresh chicken.

Can kittens eat raw chicken?

Yes, kittens can eat raw chicken. But since their teeth are not well-developed, kittens must only be served deboned chicken.

Plus, feeding too much of raw chicken to kittens isn’t a great idea, as the bacteria in the meat might prove fatal for them.

How do I prevent my cat from eating raw chicken?

When it comes to raw chicken and cats, one of the common concerns among cat owners is, how can I stop my cat from eating raw chicken?

One of the tips on how to prevent cats from eating raw chicken is to avoid leaving raw chicken in places where the cat can access it. Store all raw chicken safely in your refrigerator, lockable kitchen cabinets, or high kitchen shelves.

shorthaired cat eating

So, Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken?

Cats can eat raw chicken, and you shouldn’t be worried about any immediate health concerns.

However, ensure the chicken is fresh, bacteria-free, and chopped into bite-size pieces before offering it to your kitto.

Better yet, you can consider cooking the chicken by following the recommended preparation guidelines. That way, you won’t expose your feline friend to bacteria and other risks associated with raw chicken.


Maria is the Founder and Senior Editor at She is a lifelong feline enthusiast, self-educated pet care nerd and adores cats of all shapes! Currently parent of 2 adopted cats. She loves iced coffee, playing guitar and cat-cuddling! .

One thought on “Can Cats Eat Raw Chicken? Health Benefits and Potential Side Effects

  1. I’ve always wondered about cats and eating raw meat. My boyfriend is a veterinarian, and he says he sees a lot of animals come in with both food poisoning-type issues as well as nutrient deficiencies. We sometimes give our cat leftover salmon when we order it (only really high-quality stuff), but I’ve always stayed far away from chicken.

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