Can cats eat liver? What are the risks and benefits? Untamed delivers top info
Can cats eat liver, and how often? It seems like the perfect food for hardwired carnivores like cats. It’s organ meat loaded with various nutrients that promote feline well-being, so it cannot be unhealthy, right?
Unlike muscle meat and fish, offal meats have dense kilo-for-kilo portions of vitamins and minerals. Animal liver is one of the richest sources of vitamin A. While an occasional serving is perfectly healthy for cats, overfeeding would lead to vitamin A toxicosis, a silent killer of felines. An overdose of minerals can also lead to kidney disease.
If you want your kitty to enjoy the nutritional benefits of liver, you have to be precise about adding the correct portion of the organ meat to their diet.
Looks like my hooman left some meaty nom-noms unsupervised. Should I make a move?
Source: Janayara Machado
Feeding liver to cats—how does it work?
On a good day, a wild cat would hunt and feast on the raw liver of small animals like birds and mice. On bad days, they would have to settle with slugs and bugs. The takeaway is—liver is not always present in the natural feline diet.
When wild cats get their paws on this delicacy, it’s either from an avian or a rodent, not a big mammal. Similarly, indoor cats should get tiny portions of poultry organ meat (chicken and turkey), while meat and organs of large animals (beef, pork, lamb) are not the best option.
Refer to the table below for a comparative analysis of top nutrients in chicken and beef liver (at approximate values):
Chicken liver (100 grams)
Beef liver (100 grams)
The calorific value is as follows: a 100-gram chicken liver serving offers 116 calories, while the same serving of beef liver contains 165 calories.
I don’t hunt anymore. I levelled up and got myself a fully functional hooman to take care of that.
Based on nutrient composition, how much liver is too much for cats?
According to top nutritionists, cats can safely consume cooked chicken liver every day, as long as it’s between 5%–7% of their regular meals. The amount is super healthy with no fear of a nutrient overdose.
Your kitty can also enjoy beef, veal, pork, or lamb liver, but the quantity should strictly be under 5% of their daily food intake, and it shouldn’t be served more than once per week for average-sized breeds like Bengals and Persians. Larger cats (Ragdolls, Maine Coons, Siberians, etc.) can enjoy it twice per week at most.
What if I exceed the recommended serving size for felines?
Overfeeding liver to cats comes with the following risks:
- Hypervitaminosis A—On average, cats need about 63 micrograms of vitamin A daily for cellular regeneration and weight maintenance. Since animal livers (and other protein sources like eggs, cod liver, and cheese) overflow with this micronutrient, overconsumption will lead to vitamin A toxicosis. Signs of vitamin A toxicity aren’t evident right away, but afflicted cats may gradually show the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Constipation and IBS
- Weight loss
- Skin allergies, dry skin, and shedding
- Abnormal posture and difficulty moving
- Bone malformation
- Copper toxicity—Cats need trace amounts of copper for metabolism, but livers (especially beef liver) contain a heavy concentration of the metal. Copper poisoning can be deadly for cats, and its symptoms include jaundice, vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy
- Mineral overdose—Minerals like potassium and phosphorus help maintain dental and bone health in cats, but an overdose increases the risk of bladder stones, UTIs, and kidney damage
- Gastrointestinal complications—Liver and other organ meat fall into the category of rich and fatty food for felines. Eating large portions could lead to stomach cramping, retching, barfing undigested or digested food, and loose stools. Many cat parents also complain about their cats rejecting wet or dry food once they get unduly hooked on the rich taste of liver
These problems occur only when cats heavily overfeed on liver. When eaten in moderation, chicken liver is excellent for felines.
I’m a liver, not a hater. A cute snacker, not a gory predator.
Why are chicken livers good for cats?
If you stick to the proper serving size, adding chicken liver to your kitty’s diet can be beneficial. Giblets are a compact source of bioavailable nutrients cats can easily digest and absorb. They contain taurine, omega-3 fatty acids, collagen, and B vitamins with antioxidant properties and boost your pet’s immunity, coat health, and cognitive strength.
There’s an ongoing debate over whether chicken liver should be given raw or cooked—let’s explore both options.
Can cats eat raw chicken liver?
You can feed raw chicken liver to your kitty as an occasional snack, but handling any raw meat is risky despite taking sanitary precautions. Raw liver often contains contaminants like Campylobacter and Salmonella that lead to food poisoning. Some cats also experience stomach sensitivity to B.A.R.F. (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diets, and feeding them raw chicken or liver can trigger a nasty gastric episode.
Avoid giving raw liver to:
- Senior cats with poor digestion
- Weaning kittens (they have low body mass and fragile tummies, so rapid fluid loss from diarrhoea or vomiting can be fatal for them)
- Sick cats (they need bland food, and liver is too rich for them)
- Cats with no teeth
Feeding cats raw chicken liver is often pushed as a support food for anaemic or dehydrated cats, but the potential risks outweigh the benefits, so it's better not to experiment with it.
Feeding raw liver could mean exposing your kitty to pathogens. It’s too big of a risk, one that’s definitely not worth taking.
Is raw chicken liver good for anaemic cats?
Since chicken liver is a rich source of RBC-boosting folic acid and iron, many cat parents like giving it to their pets raw. Most vets don’t recommend this as anaemic kitties have weakened digestive strength and may struggle to break down raw food. It’s better to serve cooked liver or other iron-dense food such as tuna, sardine, salmon, prawns mixed with boiled peas, and pureed pumpkin.
Can raw chicken liver help dehydrated cats?
Cats on a dry food diet tend to be dehydrated. Many cat parents try to amp up the moisture content of biscuits by topping it with grated or pate raw liver, which is about 76% water. Unfortunately, this isn’t that great of a hack as a safe serving size of chicken liver (10–20 grams) cannot keep your feline hydrated.
Vets don’t recommend a long-term kibble diet for cats as the product is excessively processed and loaded with carbohydrates. A regular dry food diet causes obesity, diabetes, and kidney conditions in felines as they get older. Cats need protein-rich wet meals every day to maintain a good physique and optimum hydration levels. You can go for semi-moist or mixed diets, but they won’t be as effective as wet food.
Can cats eat cooked chicken liver?
Cats are better off eating cooked chicken liver because of the:
- Flavour—Raw liver has a strong metallic taste some domestic cats may find repulsive, but most kitties love cooked liver
- Texture—Cooking softens the liver and increases its digestibility
- Hygiene—Heat destroys the pathogens in raw meat, making it safer for consumption
While cooked liver is okay for kitties, never serve it as a full meal. You can use it as:
- A flavour booster—If your finicky kitty gets bored with their food easily, adding a dash of cooked liver to their meals can spice up the dish. You can also try a tiny bit of cooked ham and bacon but mind the portions because cured products are high in fat and sodium
- A snack—A bite of cooked liver is a high-protein snack that helps kitties feel full until supper
Looking for devilishly yummy cat food with a sliver of liver? Untamed has a surprise!
If you want to add the goodness of liver to wet food, Untamed has cooked up the perfect dish for your kitty. Our Chocka Chicken in Gravy is a lip-smacking delight made with:
- Hand-shredded chicken breast (58%)
- Chicken broth (33%)
- Chicken liver (5%)
A meal made with chicken breast, liver, and love—Untamed is yummy and healthy!
Image (c) Untamed
It’s grain-free complete food offering an optimal ratio of all essential micronutrients, including taurine, vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, and iron. Untamed meals are easy to digest because we use human-grade whole meat and natural ingredients.
Switch your kitty to regular Untamed meals to keep them fit and happy!
Many cat food manufacturers use leftovers from the human supply chain that don't meet your cat's nutritional needs. To improve the taste, they add artificial taste enhancers, which negatively affect your cat's health in the long run.
Why feed scraps to your furry companion when you can do better? At Untamed, we deliver the best to your kitty by using premium human-grade whole meat and organs. Our products are free from iffy meat derivatives, grains, vegetable proteins, and sugar. Untamed meals are:
- High-protein—Our products are 60–63% whole meat, providing two times more protein than average store-bought cat food. A regular Untamed diet improves muscle tone and helps reduce hairballs
- Vet-formulated—We designed our recipes with vets to provide optimal quantities of all micronutrients in every meal. You don’t have to worry about an overdose or deficiency of any nutrient
- Gently cooked—The softer the food, the easier it is to absorb the nutrients. We steam our food to keep the nutrients in and retain the natural flavour, aroma, and texture of meat
- Allergen-free—All our products are free from common allergens. Our single-protein options, Chocka Chicken and Tuck-in Tuna, are tailored to the needs of sensitive kitties with severe food allergies
- Wickedly tasty—Healthy cat food is pointless if it isn’t delicious. Our meals win over the fussiest of eaters!
New instructions, hooman. Let’s carry these toothsome treasures home.
Image (c) Untamed
All kitties love Untamed!
- Kittens—Weaned off kittens need a high-calorie diet for the first six months of their life and must be fed more frequently than adults. Help them gain ideal weight by feeding suitable servings of our protein-rich meals
- Adults—Our sugar-free and grain-free food helps neutered or obesity-prone adults stay lean. Cats on Untamed feel full and satisfied, which prevents unhealthy eating habits like overeating and gorging. Our products are also suitable for diabetic and overweight cats
- Seniors—Cats tend to suffer from poor appetite and sudden weight loss as they get older. Untamed helps manage weight in seniors and can delay the onset of age-related illnesses like hyperthyroidism, arthritis, and cystitis
Our satisfied clients reported the following positive changes after switching their furry friends to Untamed:
The Untamed Effect
Keeping peak health in style—The Untamed tote bag is totally my new blanky, hooman!
Image (c) Untamed
Get our taster pack and watch the magic unfold!
Get Untamed's taster pack to check which dishes your kitty prefers. Here’s how to do it:
- Take our TRY NOW quiz and tell us about your cat
- Select suitable products
- Place the order
You’ll get your cat food trial box in a day. If your cat says meow, we’ll deliver their favourite meals at the same time every month. Our shipping is always free, and you can modify your cat food subscription box, or cancel or postpone an order anytime!
We use eco-friendly packaging to honour the values of ethical cat food production. We pay special attention to cruelty-free and sustainable sourcing of the meat and seafood we use.
Cooking chicken livers for cats—a guide
If you want to cook an appetising homemade chicken liver snack, follow these steps:
- Wash the pieces and remove fat
- Add the meat to a large pan with boiling water
- Let it simmer for about 10 minutes (overcooking can make it too rubbery)
- Drain the water and let the meat cool down
Alternatively, you can also bake chicken liver for 20–25 minutes in an oven preset to 350°F (180°C).
Once cooked and cooled, you can store it in the refrigerator. Serve it as an occasional snack or grate it over your cat’s food.
You can also add liver to meat soups and bone broths for cats but don’t add onions, garlic, wild mushrooms, green tomatoes and potatoes, and raw yeast because these ingredients are dangerous for your kitty.
Home-cooked liver meals are kitty-safe when they are made without seasoning!
Snacks to cheer up your furry friend!
Cats can be curious adventurers willing to eat anything from leftover bread to houseplants! Besides liver and meat, you can try several other snacks to keep your feline’s diet versatile. Check out some examples:
- Fruits—While fruits are nutritionally useless to cats, your kitty can have some apples, strawberries, and blueberries if they show any interest in anything else but meat. Ensure the portion is bite-sized to prevent accidental choking. Avoid giving them tangy fruits like oranges, as they can cause diarrhoea. Certain fruits, like grapes and cherries, are toxic to cats
- Vegetables—Cats don’t particularly enjoy the taste of plants and veggies, but they don’t mind nibbling boiled carrots and sweet potatoes occasionally
- Grains—If you want to treat your kitty with grain-based snacks, opt for low-calorie options like steamed sweetcorn, air-popped popcorn, brown rice, and oats. Don’t make grains a regular snack and keep the serving size under 20 grams
- Milk—Dairy isn’t good for kitties, but they can enjoy some milk or low-fat yoghurt from time to time. Avoid giving them milk if they are lactose intolerant or allergic to casein (milk protein)
Refrain from giving cats heavily seasoned human food like pasta, crisps, and mayonnaise, as they cannot handle too much salt. You can feed your kitty a small quantity of cat grass or catnip if you think they’re struggling to eliminate hairballs.
Check out our other guides to what cats can or cannot eat: