Can Cats Eat Chicken Bones? – Explained

This post may contain affiliate links. You can view our affiliate disclosure here.

Can Cats Eat Chicken Bones? - Banner

So, you’re sitting on the couch, digging into a bucket of KFC, and you notice your cat sitting next to you, staring at the delicious greasy morsels with intense longing.

You go and toss it a drumstick… and then you remember. There are bones in this chicken. Can you still share your tasty fried chicken with your cat?

It must first be noted that fried, salty and greasy foods are terrible for cats and should be avoided. These foods can lead to obesity and even kidney issues if eaten in excess, so skip the fast food when treating your cat.

There are also many other foods that cats should not eat. For example, lactose intolerant cats shouldn’t eat cheese.

Can cats eat chicken bones?

The matter of whether cats can eat chicken bones, however, can be confusing, and for good reason.

Yes, generally speaking, cats can eat chicken bones.

Many people have the knee-jerk reaction that chicken bones are dangerous for cats to consume, perhaps based on the well-meaning advice of a friend or pet shop employee, but this idea is flawed because it ignores the biology of the domestic cat.

Can Cats Eat Chicken Bones? - Image 2

Cats are natural carnivores. Their wild ancestors ate a diet of almost exclusively animals, including a large amount of organs and bone, which they digest easily.

Cats are perfectly capable of digesting bones, fur, and feathers without issue because their stomachs are a lot different than ours. Their stomach acid is much stronger and contains enzymes designed to break down animal foods.

Bone Nutrition

In fact, bones can be very healthy for cats under certain circumstances.

Bone marrow, found inside the bone, is extremely nutritious, and the bones themselves are high in calcium and other minerals.

Chewing on bones can also help cats keep their teeth clean, which is especially important given that many modern cat food formulas are implicated in feline gum disease and tooth decay.

It’s also a lot easier to give your cat a bone than it is to brush their teeth. This is why cats can eat chicken bones in certain situations.

When can you feed your cat chicken bones?

1. The bones should be raw.

Can Cats Eat Chicken Bones? - Image 3

Cooked bones become brittle and can splinter, lodging themselves in the stomach, mouth, and intestines.

The resulting health issues can be extremely painful and even fatal, which is why it is very important that bones given to cats aren’t cooked.

Furthermore, when defrosting frozen bones, do not use hot water or the microwave. This can make bones brittle, similar to normal cooking.

2. The bones should be at least room temperature.

Frozen bones are harder than unfrozen and can chip cat teeth, which are not suited for chewing on extremely hard materials.

Just remember not to defrost bones in hot water or the microwave, for reasons given in the first point.

3. The bones should be fresh and have been stored properly.

Raw chicken of any kind can harbor a wide variety of bacteria, and the problem becomes worse the longer the chicken sits at non-freezing temperatures.

Cats, along with most other carnivores, have strong stomach acid that can handle a lot of different bacteria, but there are still plenty of nasty microbes that can make them sick. This is why bones given to cats should be fresh, and if storage is needed, they should be frozen until fed to the cat.


In summary, fresh raw chicken bones are safe for cats to eat and can be a healthy part of their balanced diet.

Cooked bones, however, are dangerous, and even raw bones in excess can cause tooth issues and, due to the high marrow content, weight gain.

Therefore, before making any changes to your cat’s diet, make sure you consult your vet. They will be able to give you advice as to the healthiest diet you can give your cat so they live a long, happy life.

Thanks for reading. Are you considering feeding your cat chicken bones? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Share this:

Leave a Reply