Are you thinking about adding organ meat to your cat’s diet? If so, you may find yourself considering feeding your cat liver. Before you do, you thought you’d check. Good idea. You’ll soon see why…
So, can cats eat liver? Cats can eat liver, with lamb, chicken, beef, and pork liver being particularly good options. These livers have many nutritional benefits – being rich in Vitamins A & D, protein, and iron. However, liver does need to be served in careful moderation because too much vitamin A can be harmful to cats.
Below is everything you need to know about how to safely add liver to your cat’s die – from serving sizes all the way through to when to serve it!
What Liver Can Cats Eat?
Cats can eat the liver of most animals, with chicken, lamb, cow, and pork being good options.
While cats can eat many kinds of liver, taking a look at the most popular options can help you find a liver type that is best for you and your cat.
The two main things to consider when selecting the type of liver you will feed are what animal meats are readily available where you live and the amount of liver you will be feeding.
Let’s look together at the most common liver options for feeding to cats.
Chicken liver is the most common type of liver fed to cats.
Wild cats often eat small birds and rodents, and the nutritional makeup of chicken liver is similar to what a cat would eat naturally.
Chicken livers are small in size, which helps to prevent overfeeding and reduces waste products.
Chicken liver is high in Vitamin B12, which is an essential vitamin for a cat’s health.
Many people like serving chicken livers because they are easy to find at butchers and at local grocery stores.
There is some debate over whether chicken livers should be served raw or cooked.
Raw livers will maintain their full scope of vitamins and minerals, while cooked livers should be free of any bacteria that some fear could make a cat sick.
Lamb’s liver is another good option for adding liver to your cat’s diet.
Lamb’s liver is considered very lean compared to other animal livers, which is great for cats who are watching their fat and calorie intake.
Lamb’s livers are bigger than chicken livers which can be useful if you are feeding multiple cats or have a very large breed of cat, such as a Maine Coone.
Lamb’s liver is also known for having a flavor that almost all cats enjoy.
A picky cat or cat that has been seeming bored with their regular meal options may be enticed to eat if offered a bit of ground lamb liver with their food.
In many places, lamb may not be as easily obtained at grocery stores as chicken, but if you live in an area where people often eat lamb, you shouldn’t have any problem finding some lamb liver for your special cat.
A third popular choice for feeding liver is the liver from cows. Cow liver can be from veal, where the liver is from a calf or from an adult cow.
Because veal is considered a delicacy among many populations, it will often be higher in price than other liver types.
Beef liver is nutrient-dense, like chicken and lamb, with slightly higher protein and iron levels.
It is also a bit higher in fat than the other two options, which could make it less desirable for some owners.
One of the downfalls of cow liver is its large size.
Because cats only need small amounts of liver each week to receive the full nutritional benefits, and eating too much can make a cat unwell, you will have beef liver that needs to be frozen until you are ready to use it.
Other Types Of Liver
Cats can eat almost any type of liver, but chicken, lamb, and cow are the most common. Other options for feeding liver include turkey, goat, and pork livers.
If you choose to serve pork liver, it must be cooked before feeding to help get rid of specific parasites that are typically only found in uncooked pork.
You may want to serve turkey or goat liver if they are easier to find in your area than the other options listed in this article.
How Much Liver Can Cats Eat?
Although liver provides a great nutrient boost to cats, it must be served in very careful moderation. As a general rule, animal livers should make up no more than 5% of a cat’s average daily diet. The total size of your cat’s daily diet should be based on your cat’s size and equal about 3-4% of your cat’s body weight.
For those feeding liver each day, this may mean only feeding 1-1.5 teaspoons of liver per day.
Other owners will choose to serve one tablespoon of ground liver to their cat each week instead of trying to do a daily feeding.
The key to feeding liver is to remember it is able to pack a great nutritional punch in a small serving.
The reason that liver intake is limited to small doses is that it contains high levels of Vitamin A.
In proper amounts, vitamin A is excellent for a cat’s vision and immune system, but when a cat consistently eats too much vitamin A over time, it can lead to vitamin A toxicity.
Cats are more susceptible to vitamin A toxicity than dogs, and because it can happen slowly over time, it may not be noticed right away.
When a cat is experiencing vitamin A toxicity, it may be lethargic, lose weight without explanation, develop a poor coat quality, or be constipated.
If you think your cat has taken in too much vitamin A through liver or other sources, contact your veterinarian right away.
How To Feed Your Cat Liver
Many types of liver, such as chicken, sheep, and beef, are frequently served raw. Raw liver will have the most complete range of vitamins and minerals available. Pork liver is the exception here and always needs to be cooked in order to be safe to eat.
Because cats eat such small portions of liver, it is often ground to make measuring and serving the correct amount simple.
Some owners choose to cook other types of liver before serving as a personal preference, especially among owners who do not like handling raw meat.
Cooking liver for your cat does slightly decrease some of the nutrient content but not so much that all the liver health benefits are lost.
Cooking liver for your cat can be done over low-medium heat on the stovetop by boiling the liver in a pot of water or baking the liver at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an average of 20 minutes – depending on the size of the liver.
As mentioned earlier, one common way to serve liver is to grind the liver for easy serving of small portions.
A butcher can grind liver for you, or you can grind your own. Grinding is popular when choosing to feed raw liver.
For serving cooked liver, you can thinly slice chicken livers or other smaller livers and add the slices to your cat’s regular meals, or some owners choose to use a grate and grate the liver over the top of dry cat food to increase the food’s palatability.
If you cook your liver by boiling it, the broth can also be used as a topper over dry food for an extra flare of flavor to please your cat.
Serving Liver As A Snack
Like any great pet, cats often enjoy treats. Small bits of liver can make a great treat for training your cat or making them feel special after a long day.
Liver that is fed as a treat can be offered on a utensil or from your hand.
Make sure to keep track of how much liver you are feeding. If you use liver as a treat, you will not want to then include liver in the day’s meals.
Liver is a snack that many cats will learn to look forward to and can be a great way to encourage a shy cat to warm up to you or a reluctant cat to come out of hiding.
When To Feed Your Cat Liver
Feed your cat liver if you want to give their nutrition a boost in protein, vitamins A or D, iron, or healthy fats. You can feed your cat liver in very small amounts 3-4 times a week or a slightly larger amount once per week.
If you have a cat that has started to be reluctant to eat its usual food and a veterinarian has ruled out medical concerns, liver may be a great way to encourage your cat to have an interest in eating.
The smells and flavors are often more enjoyable to a cat than traditional dry cat kibbles.
If you have a cat that has escaped home, or a cat that you need to lure into a live trap for safety reasons, liver can work as a great bait option.
It is healthy for any cat that eats it and is often more desirable than regular cat food.
Other Considerations When Feeding Your Cat Liver
Less Is More When Introducing Liver
While we are certain your cat will love the taste of liver and the health benefits are outstanding, jumping into any dietary change too quickly can be upsetting for your cat’s digestive system.
Always start introducing new food items in very limited amounts.
Just a few small bits of liver during the first week of introduction is enough to help ease your cat into enjoying the perks of eating liver.
If a small serving goes well and doesn’t upset your cat’s stomach, you can gradually add more each week until you reach your desired total amount.
Store Unused Liver Correctly
After you purchase liver from the grocery store or butcher, it should be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator.
Liver should not be left out at room temperature because it will spoil and become unsafe for eating.
You can store liver in a sealed container in your refrigerator for between three to five days. This is great if you have a small amount of liver or are feeding multiple cats.
If you need to keep liver for more than a few days, you will want to portion the liver out into smaller servings, wrap the liver, and freeze it.
Properly stored in a freezer, liver will last for 3-4 months.
By freezing liver in small portions, you can choose to thaw only what you will need for a week at a time and have less meat go to waste.
Don’t Hesitate To Consult With Your Veterinarian
Your veterinarian should be your teammate when it comes to meeting your cat’s health needs.
Giving liver occasionally shouldn’t require any immediate visits to your vet, but if you have major concerns about your cat’s health, it is smart to make an appointment.
A veterinarian can help you determine the exact amount of liver to feed your cat, the amount of benefit your specific cat would receive from eating liver, and help you make sure that you are feeding liver safely.
While there are many organs you can choose to add to your cat’s diet if you are looking for one packed with Vitamins, iron, and protein in every bite, liver is a choice that can be hard to beat.
Considering serving other offal to your cat? then my other guides may be of interest:
- Can Cats Eat Kidney? [All You Need To Know]
- Can Cats Eat Tripe? [What You Need To Know]
- Can Cats Eat Chicken Hearts?
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.