Need Recommendations for Pungent (the Stinkier the Better!) Canned Fish


tl:dr: Looking for very smelly/pungent/oily canned fish that can be purchased at a general grocery store.

Long version:
There’s a feral-ish cat in our neighborhood who we’ve been feeding. He has a nasty skin infection and, with a vet’s help, we’ve figured out a medication treatment protocol.

The issue is that the medicine is very bitter. Vet recommends disguising it in canned fish, the more intensely scented, the better.

But, we’re mostly vegetarian and I can’t recall the last time I purchased canned fish.

Should I look for oil packed? Tuna or sardines or anchovies or … ?

Help, please


Canned mackerel.


What about any of the smoked can items?

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I’d go with canned salmon or canned sardines. They always smell the strongest to me.

Thank you for helping him!! :heart:

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Why not fishy cat food?


That stuff smells so strong cats won’t even eat it.

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Go to the dollar store to buy canned mackerel


I’m so proud of you for working on this. Thanks.

I wonder if you could use a live trap and get him into the vet.

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If you do buy tinned fish intended for human consumption, find something with no added salt. But the stuff intended for cats is cheaper.

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Good point. With the new puppy I’d wondered about human purposed jerky but even a manufacturer of such recommended against it. Too many things - seasonings - that aren’t so good for our four-legged friends. He prefers TJs chicken jerky :slight_smile:

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Trader Joes tuna for cats is cheap, pungent, and it’s formualted specifically for cats.


Thanks for all the ideas; we’re going shopping later today and will buy a variety - offer small amounts a few times to see what he eats before we add in the medicine.

We tried a couple fish-based canned cat foods and he sniffed, tasted, and walked away. (The local urban wildlife ate it, though.)

At this point he’s trap-shy. We’ve live trapped him twice, once for trap/neuter (and vaccinations)/release, and a second time, a few weeks ago, to get his current weight and a skin scrape/tissue sample.

We are working with a vet on this (she was here for the last trapping/weight and a quick skin scrape for diagnostics). He’s really, really wild.

The treatment protocol has us giving the medicine (hidden in the food) once a week for six weeks, then reassessment. Hoping we are successful.

There are other animals (wildlife) in the neighborhood with fur loss, so we may need to do this long-term as it appears these mites are in the environment - was hoping the rain world have cleared out the issue, but … . Oddly, the other feral cats aren’t showing symptoms.

We are hoping to get him into one of the barn cat programs, but need him healthier, first.

Not the best photo, but you can see the red/inflamed areas around the neck. He has some nasty looking hot spots along the lower back and haunches, too.


Poor guy. He’s lucky to have y’all.


Ivermectin? That stuff is terrible. We give give it our mangey puppies. What worked best for us is to dilute it with the juice of some canned dog food (Some are more brothy than others). Doctors were okay with this because we had one puppy that already ate very little but the medicine was really turning her off and she was so timid that forcing it down was very upsetting to her…


Thanks for sharing solid vet advice.



Yep, that’s the stuff! We’ve managed to get one dose into him (mackerel appealed) - wish he was more trusting as his skin and coat are a mess and he’s obviously in discomfort. Would that we could catch and apply a topical treatment and salve, as well as the Ivermectin.

Vet was here the other day, for another reason, and watched the itchy boy for a bit (from a distance, though, since he’s so wild) - she says if no improvement in three weeks we’ll need to figure out another approach.

We are worried about the stress on his body from fighting the mites: it can wear down the immune system pretty fast.

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You guys are so awesome, @ElsieDee!

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Has anyone mentioned cheap anchovies or sardines?