My cat wants to go fishing!
November 26, 2007 7:47 AM   Subscribe

What kind of live fish can I feed my cat?

Recently, I saw some pictures of a cat "fishing" in a bathtub (Bathtub Cat, and no, my cat is not that big nor do I intend to give him a fish that big). I live with a cat who is obsessed with water due to his breed (Maine Coon) and loves to "fish" for his kibbles. Is there a safe way to give my cat some fishies to chase after in the bathtub? I worry about the tiny bones in little fish, or any bacteria/diseases he could get from pet-store animals. A friend has suggested tadpoles as an alternative, but where would I obtain them, and ensure that they are edible for my kitty? This wouldn't be part of his regular feeding, just a fun thing for him to do every now and then.

(I am posting anonymously because although I know Metafilter is pro-cat, I'm wary of receiving hate mail from fish lovers. I will respond to any questions through the mods.)
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That wasn't a pet cat, that was a Fishing Cat.
posted by afx237vi at 8:03 AM on November 26, 2007

Response by poster: I can't say anything about the bacteria/sanitary issues, but you don't have to worry about the bones. Cats generally eat the entire animal, bones and all, without problems. Except for one of my family's cats, who always liked to hide little mouse organs for us to find.
posted by Anonymous at 8:04 AM on November 26, 2007

that's not a cat in the picture, it's some tiger of wild bobcat or something, it's a Russian guy who "adopted" the beast and feeds him live animals. it was posted on mefi as well a few years ago.
posted by matteo at 8:05 AM on November 26, 2007

Well, even some fish lovers keep fish that eat other fish. They're fed "feeder goldfish" and their healthiness depends on where you get them. Since they're just mass-produced, diseases can crop up in tanks very easily so safety to your cat (or your big fish) is up to your local fish store. Up to you. Tadpoles aren't likely to be found in a fish store either, so your best bet for those is a bait store or the pond. Disease and toxicity might be present there at greater risk.

I don't know anything about cats, but isn't it likely that he'll just play with the thing and not actually consume it?

Also: I hope your cat fails and looks foolish.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:15 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fish bait stores sell live minnows, I believe. Folks who keep reptiles for pets buy and breed them as live food for their snakes and other pets, according to this, which also notes that pet supply stores sometimes sell live feeder fish as well.
posted by frobozz at 8:19 AM on November 26, 2007

I knew a cat psychic who gave her cat a live goldfish in a bowl of water on his birthday. I guess the psychic bit only worked for mammals.

I don't see why giving your cat a goldfish from time to time would be bad. A quick Google shows nothing about diseases that can be passed from fish to cats. And cats' digestive systems evolved to handle little critters, bones and all.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:19 AM on November 26, 2007

buying goldfish one at a time from the pet store would be expensive; you're essentially paying a pet premium for cat food. raising fish is a lot of work, as is finding them in the wild. here's an alternative:

mice are easy to raise; with a 20-gallon aquarium, all the vegetable scraps from your kitchen and just one mommy and daddy mouse, you have your own self-sustaining mousinator with just periodic cleaning tasks. toss a mouse into the bathtub for fluffy to have a go. when she's done, drain the tub and wipe away any blood/shit residue with a paper towel.
posted by bruce at 8:20 AM on November 26, 2007

Well, my cat ate a housemate's pet goldfish, once, with no ill effects for the cat. The fish and the housemate weren't so happy, but my cat seemed quite pleased with himself. It was your basic pet store goldfish, in a fish bowl, left unsupervised for a little too long.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:30 AM on November 26, 2007

Bruce, buying feeder gold fish from a pet store is not expensive. I usually get 5 - 10 for a dollar. As this is a only once in a while thing, money should not be an issue.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 8:30 AM on November 26, 2007

This is a poorly sourced datapoint with a healthy number of weasel-words, but I'm under the impression that at least here in California, it's illegal to raise animals as food for other animals. Buying them, sure, but breeding them, no. I don't know if this is evidence of an all-powerful pet store lobby or a reaction against cockfighting, but it might be something to consider.
posted by rhizome at 8:31 AM on November 26, 2007

I have both fish and cats and this just doesn't sound like a good idea. Even if it's unlikely that disease or parasites will spread from the fish to your cat, pet grade fish are often dosed with antibiotics, antifungals, and antiparasitics that I wouldn't want my cats to ingest.

What about getting a tin of whole sardines (water-packed), putting a string through a sardine, and wiggling it around in the tub for your cat? You'll know the fish is safe to eat and you won't have to deal with a live or half-dead fish if your cat doesn't kill it.
posted by weebil at 8:45 AM on November 26, 2007

We have a backyard pond, and one of my cats has been known to attempt to catch the goldfish (they always manage to swim deeper and get away). I asked my vet if there would be any problem if the cat did manage to catch one and eat it, and he said "No problem at all."
posted by amyms at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2007

If he particularly likes water and isn't overly tame, it is likely he is catching fish anyway, unless you live in a city.
posted by wackybrit at 10:12 AM on November 26, 2007

You might want to do some reading about RAW or BARF (bones and raw food) feeding. We feed our dog on a BARF diet; she gets chicken legs, bones, gross innards, and the occasional whole fish. She eats them raw, bones and all. I know people feed cats on this diet, so what you're talking about is not charting new territory - you're just adding in the "still live" element.

The only part I'm not confident on is that we feed our dog food intended for human consumption. I'm going to assume feeder goldfish would be ok, as they are intended to be part of the food chain (unlike pet goldfish) but I have no real knowledge of that. Ask your local pet store?
posted by DarlingBri at 10:40 AM on November 26, 2007

I've done a fish shot.

If you're rationalizing if it's safe or not, you're not drunk enough. Return to the keg line, drown yourself in more Busch light, then return to aquarium for your fish.


The link above isn't at all authorative, but I thought it was funny. I do remember that back when goldfish eating was a popular college fad like phonebox stuffing, the authorities stopped by stating that this was unsafe due to fish-borne parasites.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:03 AM on November 26, 2007

Please don't feed your cat tadpoles. Earth is killing the frogs, toads and other amphibians at an alarming rate, and we need tadpoles to grow up and become lovely frogs, etc.

Goldfish? Why not. They're the aquatic world equivalent of po' white trash (which most of my family is/was).
posted by Smalltown Girl at 8:56 PM on November 26, 2007

« Older Glass marble magnet supplies in Toronto   |   I am a n00b Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.