Peanut butter is one of the most popular food pastes that we, humans, treat ourselves with when we need something sweet and delicious. Meanwhile, as we have our special treat, it often happens (I am sure not only with me), that our lovely pets come and start meowing and looking at us with their big cute eyes. In this case, who wouldn’t give them what they want? But before you share your tasty food with your beloved companion, bear in mind that among all the foods that we can consume safely, there are many foods that cats cannot eat as it can be harmful or even deadly to them.
You might be wondering now: what about cats and peanut butter? Is peanut butter bad for cats as well? Or can cats eat peanut butter? Although this question seems to be easy to answer, it requires a bit more explanation than a yes or no, and it is definitely worth to know how much peanut butter a cat can consume safely and what benefits or effects can occur on the feline’s overall health. After all, there is no cat owner who would want anything bad to his beloved companion.
Can cats eat Peanut Butter? – Not recommended
If you ask “Can cats eat peanut butter?” my answer would be: “Technically yes – cats can eat it.” Nevertheless, if you ask “Can you give cats peanut butter” the answer is: “Definitely no. It is not recommended.”
While peanut butter is not considered to be toxic to cats (it is not on the ASPCA’s list of “People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets”), it should not be fed to them on a regular basis. However, peanut butter can be given as a treat to cats that do show some interest in peanut butter and are not allergic to this tasty paste, but only with exceptional caution:
- the one-time portion should not be more than half a teaspoon,
- the frequency should not be more than once a week,
- and the type of the peanut butter should be the one which is free of as many additives as possible, which means it has no added sugar, salt or extra oil and it is sodium free.
Although peanut butter so far seems to be ok for cats, the health risks of even a tiny overdose overtake the little beneficial values that the content of peanut butter carries.
Overall, speaking for myself and considering the facts about peanut butter and effects it can cause to a cat, I would recommend not to feed peanut butter to cats at all. It is not worth taking the risk to give something to a cat which is not even part of her healthy diet.
About peanut butter and cats
Peanut butter is a very popular food paste made from dry roasted peanuts. It is not only a delicious paste on a sandwich, but it also can be an ingredient in many recipes, for example, cookies.
If you have ever looked at the ingredients in a jar of peanut butter (regardless of the brand), you perhaps already have an idea that it is full of excellent nutrients. It is a great source of protein, fat, carbohydrates, several vitamins (like vitamin E and vitamin B6) and minerals. While most commercially produced peanut butter contain oil, added sugar and increased salt as well to enhance the flavor and increase the shelf life, other brands of peanut butter exclude unnecessary additives and chemicals.
Knowing its ingredients, nutritionally peanut butter has countless benefits. At least for human consumers. However, when it comes to cats, we should not forget the fact that cats are obligate carnivores. Therefore their nutritional needs require a diet that consists of animal-based proteins, and not a plant source protein like peanut butter. So regarding cats and peanut butter; even though their digestive system can break the peanut butter down and digest it, the question about its nutritional value to cats becomes more complicated and needs some detailed explanation.
Any benefits – Is peanut butter good for cats?
The nutritional value of peanut butter to humans is well-known. But what about cats? You will often hear that giving peanut butter to a cat has plenty of benefits as well because of the excellent nutrients found in it. Is that true?
Some people say that the peanut butter rich in vitamins and minerals improve the cat’s immune system, protects her from different diseases and reduce the risk of a heart attack. It is also believed that the oil found in peanut butter increases the sheen of the cat’s coat. Furthermore, it improves the cat’s skin.
While people claim that the ingredients of the peanut butter have numerous benefits to cats, there is no real evidence found to prove this statement’s truth. In fact, cats are still carnivore animals, therefore, they require mostly meat and do not need proteins and ingredients found in peanut butter. In addition, peanut butter contains a lot of fat, carbohydrates, sometimes even added sugar and salt, which could moreover have a negative impact on a cat’s health.
In consequence, peanut butter has neither real known nutritional values nor health benefits to cats. And to top it all, cats cannot taste sweets, therefore there is no need for you to add this food to your cat’s diet unless it is being used as a way to give your cat medication.
Some veterinarians recommend peanut butter, as a method that can work when a cat needs medication. In this case, peanut butter masks the smell of the medicine helping the cat to swallow her pill. However, if the cat needs long-term medication, this method should absolutely be avoided because the consequences of the big, daily doses of peanut butter.
Risks – Is peanut butter bad for cats?
As you might understand already, peanut butter has neither remarkable nutritional values nor health benefits to cats. Even if it had, the health risks of even a tiny overdose would overtake these little beneficial values. So while peanut butter is not considered to be toxic to cats (it is not on the ASPCA’s list of “People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets”), it should not be fed to them on a regular basis as it is certainly not so good for them.
So if you are still wondering: “Is peanut butter ok for cats?”, let’s shed a little bit more light on this topic. Here are just a few health risks involved with giving peanut butter to your cat:
Peanut butter contains high amounts of fat and carbohydrate. Unlike our human body, the cat’s digestive system is not designed to break down and digest this large amount of fat. So if cats eat peanut butter, all peanut butter does is: add excess fat to their little body, which can lead to weight gain and this could easily result in several health problems like diabetes, liver disease or even decreased length of life. Cats that have an appropriate diet and are well fed with quality cat food have no need this extra fat anyway.
As you know, peanut butter has a weird texture because of its pasty, sticky consistency. So even worse than the obesity, even a spoonful peanut butter can stick to the throat and the walls of her mouth, and can form a clump causing obstruction in the throat, resulting in the pet to choke.
There is also a possibility that the peanut butter clumps will end up blocking the intestine and can damage the normal functions of the digestive system as cats tend to have a higher metabolism than human beings. Even if it manages to pass through the digestive system, it can lead to the next health problem.
As stated above, a cat’s digestive system is not prepared to digest high amount of fats, though it will still try to cope with this strange, sticky texture. In case peanut butter is even a bit overdosed, it is highly likely to cause an upset stomach and even worse: diarrhea.
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What to do if your cat suffers from diarrhea after eating peanut butter?
First of all, stop feeding her peanut butter and don’t even think to give her any medicine. Secondly, increase the time between feedings. Experts suggest to avoid giving any food for 12 to 24 hours to give some rest to the cat’s digestive system. The length of this period will depend on the cat’s age, so please do call up your veterinarian about it. Meanwhile, encourage your furry friend to drink plenty of fresh, clean water because a lot of water leaves the cat’s body while having a loose or runny stool. Otherwise, diarrhea will lead to dehydration. If none of the above help and the cat’s diarrhea does not pass within a day, please contact your veterinarian to receive further treatments.
Around 4-6% of the population is allergic to peanuts, therefore to peanut butter. This is not different for cats either. The risk, that a cat develops an allergy to peanut butter is definitely present. If your cat eats peanut butter for the first time, watch out for the variety of possible allergic reactions like sneezing, itching, swelling, vomiting or diarrhea.
Also remember, that sometimes food allergies take time to develop. So peanut butter can be a dangerous allergen for cats not only in case of offering it for the first time but also when it is given too often.
If all these health risks are not enough, there is another valid warning which has nothing to do with feeding cats peanut butter itself, but other uses of this tasty paste. As peanut butter has a strong, sweet smell and does not expire quickly, it is a very commonly used bait for rodents like squirrels, mice or rats, either as a tempting bite on a lethal trap or to mask a dose of poison. These dangerous traps can then easily injure a nose or a paw or even worse poison the cat. For this reason, veterinarians warn cat owners (especially the ones who have outdoor cats) to avoid feeding cats with peanut butter. Having a pet cat that is used to the smell and taste of peanut butter increases the possibility of one of these tragic results, and it is certainly not what a cat owner wants to his little friend. Thus, it is definitely not recommended to give peanut butter to a cat, and it is the best to stick to proper cat food and cat treats from the pet store.
How much peanut butter is safe for cats?
As previously mentioned, it is not recommended to feed peanut butter to a cat. However, if she happens to eat it or you still insist on feeding your cat peanut butter, it is important to know how much is safe and which type to choose.
The best peanut butter for cats is the one which is free of as many additives as possible which means it has no added sugar, salt or extra oil and it is sodium free. Also, as peanut butter is not part of felines’ natural proper diet, and has no real known health benefits, it should only be given occasionally as a treat and only in moderation, in small quantities. Half a teaspoon of peanut butter for a cat once a week is quite an acceptable amount.
Considering all the risks and effects peanut butter can cause to a cat (like obesity, diarrhea or even choking), owners should avoid giving peanut butter constantly and taking poisoning into consideration, if possible, avoid feeding peanut butter to cats completely.
Do cats even like peanut butter?
As every cat is unique and their personality differs from one to another, in the same way, their likes and dislikes are different as well. While some cats will turn their nose up when you offer this weird, sticky paste, others will not only show interest but also pant after peanut butter and won’t stop licking your finger or the jar even after finishing that tiny amount that was given to her.
Do you want to know if your cat is a fan of peanut butter? Put a bit on the tip of your finger and see what happens. And then, don’t be surprised if your cat turns away and ignores the offered treat, because if you remember, cats cannot taste sweets.
What cats really need
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Unlike humans, cats don’t need a wide variety of foods for a healthy diet, and for them, food is just something they have to consume to get enough energy for those few hours they are awake. Also remember, cats are obligate carnivores, therefore, their nutritional intake should be close to what they would consume in their natural environment (and that is obviously not peanut butter).
In the wild, they catch and eat prey which consists of raw meat, raw bones, organs, and digested vegetable matter. It means cats need animal-based protein to survive, so their diet should include mostly high-calorie meat. Although peanut butter is high in protein as well, it is a plant-based protein which cats cannot utilize as efficiently as the animal-based proteins as the plant proteins do not contain all the amino acids a cat needs. The other important thing cats truly require is fresh, clean water which assists in the digestion of this high-calorie food.
On the other hand, cats don’t enjoy food the same way as we do as they aren’t able to feel how well something tastes (for example they cannot taste sweets), they just consume it. So there is no point in giving them peanut butter that they actually cannot taste and don’t really require.
In conclusion, cats rely on their owners, and will eat whatever we provide. If we start feeding them something that does not occur naturally in the wild and is not part of their daily diet, we might end up with a cat having health problems like obesity or diarrhea. Instead, we should feed our cats what they really need: animal-based high protein food and plenty of water.
Conclusion – Can cats have peanut butter?
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It is every cat owner’s responsibility to make sure to provide the best life possible to their little cat which includes love and affection, regular vet checkups, the best toys, and most importantly the most appropriate diet that they deserve. As their caretaker, we must be very well aware what food goes inside their stomach. So if you are still wondering “Can you give cats peanut butter?”, let’s make a brief recap on the important things stated above.
First of all, peanut butter is not toxic to cats. Secondly, while some cats will turn their nose up when you offer them peanut butter, others will just enjoy licking every little piece of it. If your cat belongs to the second category and does enjoy the taste of this sticky paste, you can offer her half a teaspoon once a week as a treat. Just make sure that the offered peanut butter is free of as many additives as possible and does not contain extra oil, added sugar and salt or sodium.
In contrast, cats are carnivores so they need mostly animal-based protein, and don’t need plant-based proteins found in peanut butter. In fact, there is nothing in peanut butter, that cats actually require, and its nutritional value to cats is also merely zero. In addition, ingesting it in large quantities can have a negative impact on the cat’s overall health. It can cause obesity or even worse, diarrhea. In other words, cats would be better off if we don’t add this sticky, unhealthy food not part of their normal diet, instead, offer them what they really need: animal-based high protein food and plenty of fresh, room temperature water.