Can Cats Eat Chicken Nuggets?

Chicken nuggets are some of the most popular meal choices for kids and adults globally.

Lightly fried and perfectly golden, chicken nuggets have unmatched crunch, particularly when you get to the crispy edges.

Whether cooked, cold, with or without sauce, everybody enjoys and shares true happiness when offered a chance to chow down a nugget.

What about our feline friends? Is it safe to share chicken nuggets with them?

Well, we all know that lean organic chicken packs a ton of amazing nutritional benefits for our cats.

Unlike other processed meats, chicken not only provides lean animal protein to cats but is also high in vital vitamins and minerals like phosphorous, selenium, and vitamin B6.

And that’s why most cat foods include chicken as one of the ingredients.

So, there is no problem if we share chicken nuggets with our fur babies, right? After all, they are made from chicken…

Before we give you an answer, it is important to know that there is a big difference between organic chicken that you normally eat at home and the crunchy chicken nuggets from McDonald’s.

Let’s explain:

Organic Chicken vs. Chicken Nuggets

While fresh, organic chicken is a great addition to your cat’s diet, you cannot really tell what’s contained in a chicken nugget.

In a past study, researchers examined chicken nuggets from two different brands. The first nugget brand was found to contain 50 percent of muscle tissue with the remaining 50 percent being mostly fats, nerves, and blood vessels.

The second nugget brand had around 40 percent muscle tissue, with the rest of the portion being mainly fat and some pieces of bone and connective tissues.

One thing we can deduce from the study is the fact that besides bones, blood vessels, and nerves—that’s obviously already unappetizing to most people—chicken nuggets provide less protein, more fat, more carbs, and more sodium than your typical unprocessed, organic chicken.

So, Can Cats Eat Chicken Nuggets?

The short answer is: Yes, chicken nuggets are not toxic to cats, so your kitty will not drop dead after consuming a portion of chicken nuggets.

However, it is something that you should give your cat in moderation as it is not healthy for your feline baby.

In particular, there are a couple of health concerns that you should be aware of before you share a piece of chicken nugget with your cat.

We’ve highlighted a few in the next section.

Potential Dangers of Feeding Cats Chicken Nuggets

1. Excess Fat

Chicken nuggets are often deep-fried in vegetable oil. This makes them saturated with significantly high amounts of fat.

Excess fat is neither healthy nor needed in your kitty’s diet.

While cats don’t have to necessarily worry about high cholesterol levels, too much fat is detrimental to your cat’s health if she has weight or heart issues.

So, if you allow your cat to consume chicken nuggets regularly, she is likely to gain weight and become lazy.

What’s more, the high-fat content can clog her arteries, restricting blood flow, and lead to less blood supply to various parts of the body.

2. Too Much Sodium

Compared to your conventional home-cooked chicken, nuggets contain excessive amounts of sodium.

However, high amounts of sodium do not end well with cats. It can lead to excessive dehydration, urination, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

In extreme cases, it can cause tremors, seizures, coma, and even death.

3. Seasoning

The toppings or breading in chicken nuggets sometimes contain a lot of seasonings (like garlic, onions, etc) that could be disastrous to your fur baby’s health.

Onions, garlic, contain thiosulphate, a compound that is known to damage red blood cells in cats, causing hemolytic anemia.

4. Preservatives

Two ingredients that you are likely to find in most chicken nugget brands are dimethylpolysiloxane and tBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone).

The former is used as an anti-forming agent while the latter is added to prevent rancidity. These are the same preservatives that are used in lacquers, pesticides, varnishes, cosmetics, and perfumes.

Additionally, nuggets contain added fillers like sodium acid pyrophosphate and many multisyllabic, mystery ingredients. 

Although various nugget brands claim that these compounds are used in quantities that pose no health risks, allowing your cat to consume large quantities of nuggets can be detrimental in the long term.

Potential side effects of these compounds in high doses include vomiting, delirium, nausea, and tinnitus.

Some animal studies have also linked some of the above compounds to DNA damage.

4. Addiction

If there is something addictive about nuggets and fast foods in general, it can affect cats as well.

So, your fur ball may start to refuse her normal food if you make sharing nuggets with her a habit.

How to Safely Feed Your Cat Chicken Nuggets

In case you cannot resist sharing nuggets with your cat, there are a few strategies that you can leverage to limit the above-highlighted potential dangers in your kitty.

  • Remove the greasy breading and fat trimmings: The topping or breading of the nugget contains most of the trans-fat and seasonings. Consider leaving it off if you have to feed your cat nuggets. The inner chicken meat is relatively safer for your cat because it is not exposed to excess fat and spices.
  • Hold the seasoning: Don’t share with your cat chicken nuggets that have been seasoned with spices like onions and garlic. Most of the herbs and spices that humans consider safe may upset many cats’ stomachs. Garlic and onions are toxic to cats.
  • Bake chicken nuggets for your cat: This is one of the best ways of doing away with excess fats, sodium, preservatives, and an unpronounceable ingredient list.
  • Lower the amount of nuggets that you feed your cat to just half a piece of nugget once or twice a week. This will give your cat’s body the capacity and enough time to deal with the mess.

Final Thoughts

So, can cats eat chicken nuggets? Technically, they can but as a responsible kitty devotee, you should never encourage it.

The amount of fats, sodium, seasoning, and preservatives in nuggets are just too much for your fur ball.

If you are looking for ways to make your kitty happy, we recommend just feeding her normal cat foods.

She will still adore you just as much without the nuggets and have better health in the long run.

But if chicken nuggets are your family’s favorite snack, consider making your own—boiled, baked, or fried—at least you will have a chance of controlling the type of ingredients that go into your recipe.