Can Cats Eat Rotisserie Chicken?

No, cats can’t eat rotisserie chicken because it contains seasonings and preservatives that can be harmful to cats. Cats should only eat plain, unseasoned cooked chicken.


Many cat owners wonder if sharing deli chicken or rotisserie chicken with cats is safe, can cats eat rotisserie chicken? While small amounts of plain cooked chicken can be nutritious for cats, rotisserie chicken and other seasoned chicken from the grocery deli contain added ingredients that may cause gastrointestinal upset or other health issues for felines.

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they thrive on a meat-based diet. Chicken can provide healthy protein for cats as long as it is plain and fully cooked. However, chicken that is seasoned, fried, or roasted may contain herbs, spices, oils, and other additives that, while delicious for humans, can be difficult for cats to digest and potentially toxic.

This article will examine the nutritional content of chicken, outline the potential risks of feeding rotisserie chicken to cats, provide guidelines for safely serving cooked chicken to cats, suggest chicken-free alternatives, and offer expert opinions on including chicken in a cat’s diet.

Nutritional Value

Chicken is an excellent source of complete, high-quality protein for cats. Protein supports strong muscles and provides essential amino acids that cats cannot synthesize on their own. Chicken is also rich in nutrients like niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, and phosphorus.

In particular, chicken contains more taurine than many other meats. Taurine is an amino acid essential for eye and heart health in cats that must be obtained through diet, as cats cannot synthesize enough on their own.

Cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast contains around 31 grams of protein in a 3-ounce portion, with only 2 grams of fat. It provides vitamins A, B, and E as well as iron, zinc, and potassium. Plain, cooked chicken can offer great nutritional value as part of a balanced feline diet.

Potential Risks

While cooked chicken meat is fine for cats, rotisserie chicken and other seasoned deli chicken have added ingredients that may pose health risks including:

  • Seasonings – Onion, garlic, and other herbs and spices flavor rotisserie chicken but these seasonings can cause gastrointestinal issues or anemia in cats.
  • Oils and Fats – Rotisserie chicken is cooked in oils and has higher fat content from the skin, which can lead to vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Preservatives and Additives – Deli chicken contains preservatives, flavor enhancers, and stabilizers that are not formulated for feline consumption.
  • Bones – Chicken bones can splinter and cause mouth or esophageal injury and should never be fed to cats.
  • Foodborne Illness – Bacteria like salmonella are a concern with any raw or undercooked poultry. Only fully-cooked chicken should be fed to cats.
  • Allergies – While rare, some cats may have allergies to chicken protein. Rotisserie chicken might contain other allergens too.
  • Obesity – Rotisserie chicken has a high fat content and cats only need small amounts of additional protein, so overfeeding can quickly lead to unhealthy weight gain.

These potential health risks mean rotisserie chicken and other heavily seasoned deli chicken are not the best options for cats. Plain, cooked chicken offers a safer alternative. Remember your cats can’t eat rotisserie chicken.

How to Serve Chicken Safely to Cats

When preparing chicken for cats, follow these tips for health and safety:

  • Remove all skin, fat, and bones before cooking to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal upset. Chicken bones can splinter and cause injury.
  • Cook chicken thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any potential bacteria. Never feed cats raw chicken.
  • Select plain, unseasoned chicken. Do not use any oil, butter, marinades, or seasonings like garlic and onion when cooking.
  • Shred or dice cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces. Cats may gag on or inhale larger chunks.
  • Limit portion size to a few small shreds or lean pieces, not a whole serving. Cats only need a little extra protein.
  • Refrigerate promptly and avoid leaving cooked chicken out. Only reheat once. Discard any leftovers after a day or two.

Following these guidelines when preparing and serving cooked chicken for cats can help provide the benefits of chicken protein while minimizing the risks.

Serving Suggestions and Alternatives

For cats that should avoid chicken, consider substituting alternate lean proteins like:

  • Beef, as long as it is cooked plain without any seasoning.
  • Turkey breast, cooked without skin or fat.
  • Fish like cod or tuna, which provides omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Egg whites scrambled with no butter or oil.

Vegetarian protein sources like legumes, soy, or wheat gluten should be avoided, as cats thrive best on meat proteins. When choosing alternate proteins, follow the same safety guidelines as for chicken by cooking thoroughly and avoiding any oils, herbs or spices.

Cats that can tolerate chicken might also enjoy a homemade cat treat recipe using plain cooked chicken, though treats should comprise only a small portion of the diet. Commercial cat food that has been formulated for complete nutrition remains the best primary food source.

Special Considerations

  • Senior cats may require lower fat protein options as they are prone to obesity. Avoid chicken skin and limit portion size.
  • Diabetic cats may also need low fat options. Stick to lean chicken breast rather than thighs or wings.
  • Cats with feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) need increased hydration. Serve chicken with added water, not drippings.
  • Check for signs of allergies like itching, ear infections, or digestive upset after serving any new protein. Discontinue if issues arise.
  • Very young kittens have different nutritional needs. Consult your vet before feeding chicken to kittens under 12 weeks old.
  • Pregnant or nursing cats require higher protein intake. Cooked chicken can supplement, but a kitten food diet is ideal.

Expert Opinion

Most veterinarians and pet nutritionists caution against feeding cats seasoned rotisserie or deli chicken because of the potential health risks outlined. Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, advises:

“Plain, cooked chicken served off the bone can be an excellent diet addition for cats. But chicken enhanced with spices, herbs, sauces or other flavor-boosting ingredients really should be avoided as they can lead to stomach upset for cats.”

Pet nutrition author Caitlin Riffee also explains:

“Plain, cooked chicken provides a great source of protein and nutrients for cats. But rotisserie chicken or other heavily seasoned deli chicken can contain excessive fats, spices and preservatives that are harmful for felines. Chicken loaded with onions, garlic or table scraps can even be toxic for cats.”

Overall, there is strong expert consensus that plain, cooked unseasoned chicken in moderation can benefit cats. But rotisserie chicken and seasoned deli chicken products are best reserved for human consumption only.


In summary, cats can’t eat rotisserie chicken or other seasoned deli chicken products as they contain a variety of additives and ingredients that can adversely impact feline health. However, plain, cooked chicken served without any oils, seasonings, bones or skin can offer health benefits and nutritional value as part of a balanced homemade diet or treat. Following proper preparation and serving guidelines is important when feeding chicken to cats. While the occasional shred of plain chicken can safely supplement commercial cat food, a diet formulated specifically for feline nutritional requirements remains the healthiest choice for cats.


Is it OK for cats to eat rotisserie chicken skin?

No, chicken skin should never be fed to cats. The high fat content can cause gastrointestinal upset. Chicken skin can also harbor bacteria that may make cats sick. Only serve cats cooked plain chicken meat without any skin or fat attached.

Can cats eat deli chicken lunch meat?

No, avoid serving cats seasoned deli chicken lunch meats. These contain added preservatives like nitrites which can be toxic to cats. Plain cooked chicken is safer, but even plain lunch meat is high in sodium for cats.

What parts of chicken can cats eat?

Cats should only eat plain cooked chicken breast meat, free of any bones, fat or skin. Chicken bones can splinter and cause mouth injuries or intestinal perforation. Dark chicken meat may have too much fat.

Is reheated chicken safe for cats?

Previously cooked plain chicken can be reheated and served to cats but only reheat once, and refrigerate between cooking and serving. Do not serve chicken that has been left unrefrigerated or reheated multiple times as bacteria can grow.

Can I give my cat fried chicken as an occasional treat?

No, avoid feeding cats fried chicken or any fried foods. The oils, batter and potential seasonings used in fried chicken can cause gastrointestinal issues in cats. The high fat content can also contribute to obesity and pancreatitis.

Is rotisserie chicken cooked at the proper temperature for cats?

Rotisserie chicken is generally cooked to the proper 165°F internal temperature to kill bacteria. However, rotisserie chicken contains seasonings, spices, and oils that should still be avoided when feeding cats. Only plain cooked chicken with no added ingredients is suitable for felines.

Can I pick off the skin and seasoning from rotisserie chicken to feed my cat the meat?

It’s best to avoid this, as some seasoning and oil residue may remain even after skin and visible herbs are removed. The safest route is to stick to plain cooked chicken with no seasonings or skin ever added.

What about organic or antibiotic-free rotisserie chicken, is that safer?

Even organic and antibiotic-free varieties contain seasonings, oil, and other additives that make rotisserie chicken hard for cats to digest. Stick with plain chicken cooked at home with no seasonings or chemical preservatives.

How much chicken should I feed my cat per day?

Only small shreds or pieces of chicken should be fed as an occasional treat or supplemental protein source. Around 1-2 ounces provides ample protein. Too much can lead to weight gain or imbalance with other required nutrients in cat food.

Are chicken bones safe for cats if they are ground up?

No, chicken bones should never be fed to cats, even if they are ground. The bone fragments can still pose a major choking hazard and internal puncture risk. Cats should only consume boneless chicken meat.

Can I season cooked chicken lightly for my cat?

It’s safest to avoid any seasonings, even in small amounts. Herbs, spices, onion, and garlic can all cause gastrointestinal upset. Feed cats plain cooked unseasoned chicken for the lowest risk.

Is leftover chicken curry or casserole safe for cats?

No, heavily seasoned dishes like chicken curry, casserole or stir-fry are unsafe for cats due to onions, garlic, black pepper and other spices used. Only plain chicken with absolutely no seasoning should be fed to cats.

For more Cats food informations, keep reading our blog.

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