There is no denying the fact that cats are carnivores and that they are descended from the fierce big cats that everyone loves to see. The proof is in how even big apex predator cats, such as lions and cheetahs, will still play with boxes and toys the same way that your kitten does.
There may come a time when you think about feeding your cat a diet closer to what they would eat in the wild, but you may not be too certain about how you should go about doing this.
If cats would normally eat whole animals in the wild, does this mean that you could feed your cat some chicken bones?
The answer to this may not be as clear cut as you think.
What Happens If Your Cat Eats Chicken Bones?
Cats can only eat raw bones, and they should only be fed relatively small bones so as to make sure that you don’t block their digestive system. You should never, ever, feed a cat cooked chicken bones, as this can kill your cat.
Chicken bones should be given only as a treat to your cat and should never make up a substantial part of your cat’s diet, even if you opt to give your cat a raw-meat diet. You still have to use some caution when feeding raw bones to your cat, and because of this, many people opt for bone broths as a safer alternative that is almost as healthy.
It is not inherently wrong that a feral or wild cat may eat some chicken bones if it happens to catch a chicken.
As obligate carnivores, they can derive a lot of nutrients from those raw bones and it can also be helpful for their dental health as well.
Risks and Benefits of Eating Chicken Bones for Domesticated Cats
However, chances are that you are considering feeding your domesticated cat chicken bones. Domesticated cats have access to their nutritious cat food, which means that they do not need to ingest bones the same way that wild cats do. They should be getting those nutrients from their usual feed.
With that being said, raw chicken bones can make for a nutritious treat for your cat, as long as they remain completely raw. Chicken bones are relatively small, which minimizes the risk that they can cause an obstruction in your cat’s digestive system, and they are also enjoyable for your cat to chew and gnaw on. Think of it as an all-natural dental chew. (Even better than beef jerky!)
Chicken bones are a good source of minerals and vitamins that all cats can benefit from as an addition to their food. Of course, they are going to be a good source of calcium, but they also contain high amounts of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and so on.
The high calcium content also helps your cat’s body absorb other nutrients more easily, including zinc, copper, and vitamins A, D, and E. These are all important nutrients for your cat, making the occasional raw chicken bone a fabulous treat.
In addition to this, raw bones are hard and good for chewing on. While cats don’t need to constantly chew their food the same way that rodents do, chewing on chicken bones can still improve your cat’s dental health.
Plus, it will help satisfy your cat’s innate instinct to chew on bones while naturally cleaning them. It has also been shown that raw chicken bones can help to strengthen teeth and teeth enamel.
This goes to show that, in the right circumstances, raw chicken bones can be wonderful for your cat. You just have to be mindful of the type of bone you are feeding the cat and make sure that your cat is eating it safely.
Can Cats Digest Cooked Chicken Bones?
You might think you are doing your cat a favor by cooking the chicken bones, or you might want to feed the chicken bones to your cat as an afterthought following a hearty chicken dinner; however, these are the worst ways to give your cat a treat.
Not only do cooked chicken bones have drastically fewer nutrients in them than the raw variants, they are far more prone to splintering and breaking. As anyone who has had a bad broken bone will tell you, bones are sharp when they are broken.
A cat’s digestive system will not be able to handle such a sharp object moving through it, leading to potential cuts, lacerations, and perforations in the cat’s digestive system. (similar to cooked shrimp tails.)
If a part of the bone breaks off, it can easily obstruct parts of your cat’s body. It could cause a blockage in the digestive system, which can require surgery to fix (which isn’t inexpensive in the slightest) and it can also cause choking.
If you’re not careful, these situations can easily lead to an untimely death for your cat. If you are planning on feeding your cat bones at all, make sure that they are completely raw, as this is the safest way to help your cat benefit from this kind of treat.
How to Let Your Cat Eat Chicken Bones Safely
If you have decided that you are willing to feed your cat raw chicken bones, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your cat can benefit from this in the safest way possible.
You will first want to make sure that your vet is aware and okay with the fact that you are giving your cat bones. Your vet knows your cat’s health the best and can give you more personalized instructions for the safest feeding.
You will also need to make sure that you always, always supervise your cat when it is eating bones, even if it has been eating bones regularly, because of the risk of choking that all bones pose.
When feeding your cat, you should try and start out when your cat is a young kitten. This will give your kitten more time to develop safe chewing techniques and learn what works best for itself and what is most comfortable.
You should only feed your cat bones from birds, as these are of the appropriate size. The largest bird the bones should come from is a turkey.
You should also opt to stick with the smallest bones of the bird to further minimize the chances of damage and obstruction. These include the ribs, neck, and wings of the bird.
Can Cats Eat Bone Broth?
If you want your cat to get these benefits of bones but are understandably worried about the risk that bones pose, or have learned that your cat cannot safely eat bones for whatever reason, you can opt to feed your cat homemade bone broth as well.
Be mindful not to add onions, garlic, or much salt to the broth, as these are harmful to cats. It should be just the bones to ensure that it is purely healthy for your cat.
This is a completely safe way for your cat to get the nutrients of chicken bones without the risk of choking and obstructions, and if your cat is really desperate to chew on something, there are plenty of flavored dental chews made for cats.