Have you been told that organ meats are a superfood for cats? Are you interested in feeding kidneys to your cat as a protein source? Not sure whether you can at all? Whether some animal kidneys are better than others, or how often and how much can you feed as a proportion of the diet? Well, if you have any of those questions, you’ve come to the right place. Today we will be exploring all.
So, can cats eat kidneys? Cats can eat kidneys, with lamb and beef kidneys being great options. Kidneys are high in protein, folate, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Even though kidneys are nutrient-dense, they should be fed in moderation.
Put it this way; in the wild, cats eat entire mice and other small prey, so kidneys and other organ meats are a natural part of their diet!
Makes sense when you think about it.
Nevertheless, there is definitely an appropriate amount to feed. And you are going to want to ensure your source the right kidneys too.
So, make sure to read on to find out all you need to know about offering kidneys to your cat.
What Kidneys Can Cats Eat?
Cats can eat a wide variety of kidneys, with lamb, beef, goat, deer, chicken, and pork all being potential options.
Let’s look at some of the most common types of kidneys fed to cats to help you determine the best type for your cat.
Lamb’s kidney is a favorite choice for feeding to cats because it is readily available at many grocery stores and local butchers.
Lamb’s kidney is believed to have a mild taste compared to other options, and even picky cats have been known to enjoy eating it.
Lamb’s kidneys are loaded with vitamin B12, iron, and protein.
The meat of a lamb kidney is very tender and easy to bite and chew. This is great for cats with sensitive teeth or older cats who may not have all of their teeth.
At just 2-3 oz each, lamb kidneys are small, which is great for preventing waste when feeding only one cat.
A second popular kidney often fed to cats is beef kidney. This is likely due to its price and how easy it is to find. Other kidneys, such as goat or veal, are likely to be more expensive.
You can find beef kidneys at many grocers that have fresh meat counters and for purchase directly from butchers.
Beef kidney has many of the same nutrients as lamb kidney but is noticeably larger, with an average weight of 1 pound per kidney.
This is a good thing for those who are feeding multiple cats, large breed cats, or who like to freeze and store their kidneys in portions.
Beef kidney is considered to have a slightly sharper taste and is a bit tougher than lamb kidney.
While many cats may not have a taste preference between beef, lamb, and other kidney types, it is worth trying more than one type if your cat turns up their nose at the first type offered.
For those who live in an area where goats are commonly raised, they are an excellent source of kidney meat.
Goat kidneys are similar in size and nutritional profile to lamb kidneys.
The one difference is that goat kidneys do tend to be slightly leaner than lamb kidneys, which makes them good for those watching their pet’s fat or calorie intake.
If you have trouble finding lamb or beef kidneys, consider goat as a third excellent option.
Other Animal Kidneys
In the end, cats can eat the kidneys of almost any animal. The kidneys of animals much smaller than lambs might not be worth feeding because of the quantity you would need to purchase.
Kidneys from deer, chicken, and pork are all safe options for including kidneys in your cat’s diet.
It is important to know that while it is safe to feed most kinds of kidney raw if you choose to feed pork kidneys to your cat, they must be cooked.
Raw pork can contain parasites that are harmful to cats if eaten. Cooking pork will kill this parasite, making the food safe to eat.
How Many Kidneys Can A Cat Eat?
Although kidneys are densely packed with protein, iron, and vitamin B12, they should still be fed in careful moderation as part of a well-rounded diet.
A typical cat on a raw food diet will eat about 2% of its body weight in food each day. If your cat weighs ten pounds, it will need around 3 oz of raw food per day.
Of this, around 5% should be an organ such as kidneys.
To help your cat receive the full benefits of eating organ meats, try trading out the kidney portion of their diet with other organs, such as the heart or spleen, throughout the week.
Cats that are not on raw diets can receive small bits of kidney as occasional treats or mixed in with store-bought food.
Make sure to start out by offering your cat very small kidney portions to make sure their stomach can handle the change to their diet.
How To Feed Your Cat Kidney
Most frequently, kidney is served raw in order to preserve the full range of vitamins and nutrients. The exception to this is with pork kidneys which must be cooked to be safe for animal or human consumption.
Because cats eat small amounts of each meal ingredient, when kidney is served as part of a raw meal, it is often ground up along with the other meal ingredients.
This creates an even blend of the various meats and other food items throughout the meal.
Ground food (including kidneys) usually creates easy cleanup and is similar in texture to canned foods.
This makes a transition from store-bought canned food to raw food diets easier for some cats.
Kidneys can also be served cut into bite-size chunks.
One benefit of offering food such as kidneys cut into chunks is that it promotes chewing and biting.
Chewing and biting on food chunks promotes dental health and keeps a cat mentally stimulated while eating.
The cons of feeding food chunks are that cats may be tempted to drag food pieces away from their dishes and discard bits around your home.
Also, it can be harder to know exactly how much of each meat, such as kidneys, your cat will eat.
Picky cats may leave behind the food they don’t prefer and miss out on the nutritional benefits.
Kidney As A Special Treat
Not everyone is comfortable or able to feed their cat kidneys on a regular basis. It is
perfectly acceptable to feed small portions of kidney as a treat to your cat.
When feeding kidneys as a treat, you will want to keep portions small to prevent overfeeding calories to your cat and to avoid stomach upset from taking in richer food than normal.
Small diced pieces of kidney can be served from your hand or placed in a dish to reward your cat.
Some specialty pet stores may sell dehydrated or freeze-dried kidney treats.
While these won’t have quite the nutritional power load of fresh kidneys, they are still a good option for a treat that will provide nutrition and enjoyment to your cat’s day.
When To Feed Your Cat Kidneys
Kidneys can be fed at a cat’s regular meal time or between meals as a small treat.
If you are already feeding your cat other raw meat ingredients, adding a kidney when you feed these items is a safe choice.
Kidney is best served in rotation with other organ meats such as spleen, heart, or liver.
If your cat currently eats only store-bought kibble or canned food, you could begin feeding your cat twice a day with a smaller kibble portion in the morning, followed by a kidney and raw ingredient meal in the evening.
Kidney as a snack can be given at any point during the day, but you want to be careful not to overdo the number of treats you give, or you may cause your cat to feel ill.
Kidney is a good food to feed cats who are elderly and have lost some of their normal interest in food. The smell of kidneys can entice cats who have started to lose interest in their regular feedings to start eating again.
Kidney is also helpful for young growing kittens who need to eat a lot of calories and protein in each meal.
Other Considerations When Feeding Your Cat Kidney
Store Kidney Meat Properly
Uncooked kidney should be kept refrigerated to prevent bacteria growth and spoiling.
Wrap the kidney in butcher paper or plastic wrap, and it will keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Carefully wrapped and stored in a freezer, kidney can maintain top quality for two months.
Toss Out Leftover Kidney After Meals
If you have a cat that likes to graze during the day, leaving their food and returning to finish it later, feeding kidneys and other raw meats could be tricky.
Once served, kidney should only be left out for an hour at most before being disposed of.
To prevent the need for throwing away kidney, be sure to offer it in very small amounts to see if your cat will eat the entire serving within an hour.
Kidney that is left out will spoil and smell while becoming less safe for your cat to eat.
Talk With Your Veterinarian About Nutrition Concerns
While it’s clear that kidney is a beneficial item to feed cats, if you have major concerns about your cat’s nutrition, you should speak with your veterinarian.
Adding small bits of kidney to your cat’s diet is safe for most cats without a trip to the vet, but major diet changes should be approved by your cat’s veterinary team.
Your veterinarian can help you determine the very best type of kidney, amount, and serving style that will work for your unique cat and their health history.
When it comes to adding organ meat to your cat’s diet, kidney is a great option to consider.
It is filled with vitamins A and B12, protein, iron, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Kidneys should not make up a cat’s entire diet but serve as a key component in a well-rounded nutrition plan.
Considering serving other offal to your cat? then my other guides may be of interest:
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.