5 min read

Can Cats Eat Lamb?


By Emily Bayne

Published: 06/13/2024, edited: 06/16/2024

Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

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Lamb is gaining popularity in pet food diets, including those for our kitties. With a rise in meat allergies, more people are steering clear of poultry-based foods in lieu of novel proteins like lamb, duck, and venison. Many popular cat foods and treats feature lamb as a primary ingredient, and we are seeing this as a leading ingredient in increasing numbers of budget cat foods, too.

Lamb has many benefits for our furry friends and is quite well-tolerated, but there are things you should know before preparing a whole lamb shank for your furbaby!

Read on to learn everything you need to know about feeding lamb to cats, from the health benefits to signs of an allergy and how much to feed your cat to avoid the dreaded tummy troubles. Let's dig right in!

Do cats like lamb

Cats tend to have selective pallets, but one food group they are rarely picky about is meat — and lamb is no exception! 

Cats are obligate carnivores (meaning they have to eat meat to meet their nutritional requirements), and they rarely discriminate between their animal protein sources. 

Take, for instance, Fluffy's wild ancestors. Feral cats primarily eat birds and small mammals like field mice, moles, and rabbits — to them, lamb would be fine dining! They even have special taste buds to detect umami, the savory, meaty flavors, which lamb is known for.

raw lamb chops on a plate - can cats eat lamb

Health benefits of lamb for cats


Lamb is chock full of the protein cats need to fuel their adventures and build and maintain lean muscle. Just one ounce of lamb contains nearly 7 grams of protein!


Lamb also contains the antioxidant CoQ10, which boosts the immune system and can even help prevent dental diseases and heart problems in aging cats.


Lamb is also a decent source of zinc, with 4.4 mg per 3-ounce serving! Zinc is an important trace mineral that cats need for a healthy immune system, metabolism, and wound healing. Zinc plays crucial roles in your cat's body down to the DNA level, as it helps with DNA and RNA synthesis, which can help their body repair damaged structures and heal itself from the inside out.


Lamb is also rich in iron, a trace mineral that helps blood cells carry oxygen to your cat's tissue and supports the immune system. Plus, feeding iron-rich lamb regularly can help combat anemia due to low iron naturally.


According to the AAFCO guidelines, cats need "0.3 mg of selenium per kilogram of food," and if they don't get enough, dangerous and even life-threatening conditions like cancer, blood cell disorders, and heart disease can ensue. Luckily, most commercial cat foods are fortified with the selenium cats need, but feeding lamb to your kitty can help give them an extra boost.


Arginine is one of the less-known essential amino acids that our feline friends need to thrive, and lamb is an excellent source of it! Arginine is important for both protein synthesis and body detoxification.

B vitamins

Lamb contains a significant amount of B vitamins, including cobalamin, folic acid, biotin, and pantothenic acid. This group of vitamins has a range of functions in the feline body, from helping the body metabolize food to ensuring proper growth and cell healing.


Taurine is yet another antioxidant found in lamb and is also an essential part of your furbaby's diet. Taurine has many functions in the feline body, and affects the cardiovascular, neurological, digestive, reproductive, and immune systems to name a few! It even affects your cat's ability to see! 

Taurine deficiencies are life-threatening and can cause many serious complications, including heart conditions and blindness. Luckily, lamb is a great way to help your cat meet their taurine goals!

How much lamb can I give my cat?

It's best to offer cats no more than 2 to 3 ounces of lamb at a time once or twice a week in addition to a complete and balanced cat food. Canned foods and kibble should make up at least 90% of your cat's food intake since feeding less can cause cats to not get the nutrients they need.

Commercial diets are formulated to meet the exact nutrient requirements for your cat's life stage and are analyzed to ensure they meet these minimum and maximum requirements.

There is a bit more wiggle room in how much lamb you can serve for parents who do homecooked diets. However, home-cooked diets are not recommended (unless devised alongside a feline nutritionist) since ensuring cats get all the micro and macro-nutrients they need is more of a science than an art form and requires precise calculations to ensure your baby is getting what they need to thrive.

Feeding your cat lamb isn't dangerous if you feed it in moderation and your cat isn't allergic. Lamb tends to be a fatty meat, so you should avoid feeding your cat excessive amounts of lamb, which can upset their stomach and cause weight gain over time.   

cooked lamb on a plate

How should I prepare lamb for my cat?

Some pet parents like feeding their cats raw diets because they perceive benefits and because it more closely mimics a wild cat's natural diet. However, raw-feeding meats like lamb come with risks of cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses (both for the pets that eat it and the humans in the home). For these reasons, raw-feeding lamb is not advised. 

You should also stick to boneless cuts of lamb. A cat's digestive tract cannot easily break down bones, and bone fragments could pose a choking or obstruction risk for your kitty.

Instead, we recommend finding a quality lean cut of lamb and preparing it without seasonings or breading and with limited cooking oils or added fats. Since cats shouldn't have a lot of added fats, we suggest steaming, boiling, broiling, or baking the lamb until it reaches an internal temp of 160° F.

Can cats eat lamb if they are allergic to chicken and beef?

Yes, in fact, lamb is one of the more common proteins pet parents try if their pets have allergies to chicken or beef protein. If your cat is prone to meat allergies, keep an eye on them whenever you switch to a new food, no matter the ingredients.

Symptoms of a mild sensitivity to meats like lamb include stomach upset, itching, hair loss, skin changes, and ear inflammation.

If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, it's best to discontinue new foods and have them checked out by a vet.

Signs of a severe reaction include trouble breathing, changes in heart rate, loss of consciousness, and facial swelling. If your pet exhibits signs of a severe reaction get them to an emergency vet ASAP since this can be life-threatening. Thankfully, this is rare.

We're sure your cat won't turn their nose up to a slice or two of roasted lamb, and luckily, it is pretty good for them! However, overdoing it can spell tummy troubles for your furbaby.

Lamb is protein-packed and contains micronutrients like folic acid, taurine, and iron. However, it can also be quite fatty. For this reason, you should keep your kitty's lamb intake down to just a few ounces per week and leave most of their caloric intake to their commercial diet. 

Overfeeding rich meats can cause your cat to have diarrhea or even gain excess pounds. If you're thinking of giving your furbaby lamb occasionally, it's always a good idea to talk to a vet first.

Digestive problems and food allergies can be expensive to treat. Compare pet health insurance plans to save more than $270 a year on vet care.

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