- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Is there anything more satisfying than the creamy and crunchy texture of peanut butter? From eating it with apples to spreading it on a PB&J sandwich, peanut butter has always been a treat for humans and a great way to get extra protein. Dogs are known to like it, too!
Peanuts have “good fat” that have some much-needed health benefits for us, but for our feline friends, it may be a different story. Cats have carnivorous digestive systems and process many “human foods” differently than us. Some foods may be non-toxic or even beneficial to a cat’s diet, while others cause stomach issues that may have lasting effects.
Here’s what you need to know about whether cats can eat peanut butter:
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is one versatile snack. For some, it’s a helpful protein-filled way to lose weight, while others—like bodybuilders—love peanut butter due to its high caloric content. It helps them bulk up muscle mass.
Peanut butter has some essential vitamins and minerals like zinc, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B-6. More importantly, however, is the protein content. In just two tablespoons of peanut butter, it has over seven grams of protein. That’s more protein than an egg!
In some studies, adding more nuts like peanuts and almonds to human diets has also been linked to reducing heart disease. Sounds like peanut butter is an excellent addition to our lives. But what about our cats?
Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?
The short answer is yes, but not too much. Peanut butter is non-toxic to cats, but it also isn’t particularly beneficial either. Cats are obligate omnivores, so unlike a dog or human omnivore diet, cats’ bodies are not set up to digest much plant matter. Though peanut butter is not on the ASPCA list of toxic foods, it should only be given in small doses as a treat or a way to get your cat to take medication.
Gary Richter, DVM, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California and Holistic Veterinary Care states, “Nuts and nut butter are high in fat so, even if cats will eat it, it’s best not to give a lot.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that peanut butter is often used as bait for rodents. If your cat wanders outdoors from time to time and sees peanut butter on one of these traps, they risk getting hurt from a trap or may accidentally eat poison.
Can Cats Eat Peanuts?
If peanut butter is nontoxic, what about peanuts? Like peanut butter, peanuts are not toxic to cats but should be tested sparingly. If you’d like your cat to try a peanut, be sure to give them a raw, unsalted variety, as cats digestive systems aren’t equipped to handle too many additives. They also need to be completely unshelled. The tough outer shell of a peanut is a choking hazard for many animals.
Another thing to be aware of in regards to all nuts is allergies. Like humans, cats can develop an allergy to nuts. Watch out for signs for skin irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues.
Can Cats Eat Other Nuts?
Though peanuts are non-toxic, there are other nuts that cats should steer clear of, and cat owners should hide from their curious paws. Here is a list of nuts to avoid feeding your cat:
- Macadamia nuts: can cause weakness and vomiting.
- Heavily salted nuts: heavy salt on most food products can wreak havoc to a cat’s digestive system as they’re not built to digest large quantities of salt.
Alternative Healthy Snacks
If you’d like to experiment with some alternative treats, consider vegetables instead of nuts. “Pet owners can always try to give vegetables to cats in food or treats. Not all will eat them,” Dr. Richter says. “There certainly are good nutrients in vegetables when part of a balanced meal.”
These veggies are not toxic to cats, according to the ASPCA:
- Celery (they love the crunch!)
- Green bell peppers
- Spinach (Filled with vitamins A, C, and K!)
- Peas (Often found in many prepackaged foods for cats and dogs as a vitamin-filled addition)
- Pumpkin (Pumpkin is used often as a way to get fiber in your cat’s diet)
Before going overboard on the treats, remember that your cat is still a carnivore and likes a routine. Use these alternative foods sparingly and never replace full meals with veggies as they’ll miss out on vital nutrients of properly formulated cat food.
“The large majority of what cats eat should be a balanced diet,” Dr. Richter says. “In general, treats are not balanced and should not make up a significant portion of their daily intake.”