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Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Updated October 20, 2022
Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Dogs often go mad over peanut butter, and many people can’t imagine their breakfast without this savory spread. But can cats eat peanut butter?

Veterinarians would recommend you stick with feeding your cat specially formulated feline food.

But cats are too cute to resist, and many owners are tempted to share their snacks with their four-legged friends.

Fortunately, peanuts are safe for healthy cats without allergies. The caveats are extra ingredients that may be present in peanut butter.

Moderation and awareness are crucial when feeding a cat any treats to avoid adverse effects and lasting consequences.

Is Peanut Butter Safe for Cats?

The answer to “Is peanut butter safe for cats?” is a bit more complicated than one might expect. Pure peanut butter doesn’t contain ingredients toxic to cats. It’s a relatively “clean” food made from roasted peanuts ground into a paste.

Cats can safely eat all nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and walnuts, apart from Macadamia nuts. Although excessive nut consumption can have lasting adverse effects or cause an allergic reaction, peanuts aren’t poisonous.

Peanut butter is rich in protein, containing approximately 14% of protein depending on the brand. That’s beneficial for cats, but peanut butter is equally rich in carbs, and most of its calories come from fat – over 70%.

Due to the high fat and sugar content, peanut butter can skyrocket a cat’s blood sugar levels and lead to a weight increase. In the long term, regular peanut butter consumption increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.

Peanut butter may also negatively affect a cat’s tooth health and gastroenteric tract, causing stomach upset. Lastly, each cat’s body is unique, and cats as individuals can be allergic to specific foods even if cats as species aren’t.

As a rule of thumb, peanut butter is only suitable for healthy cats without underlying medical conditions. It isn’t the best treat for neutered and senior cats because they can put on weight quickly.

Choose smooth peanut butter because chunks of nuts are a choking hazard to cats that are used to swallowing food without chewing it. However, any peanut butter is better than regular peanuts.

Pay Attention To Toxic Peanut Butter Ingredients

Pure peanut butter made solely from roasted nuts poses no threat to a healthy cat.

Unfortunately, peanut butter manufacturers often add ingredients potentially dangerous for cats to enhance the product flavor, extend the shelf life, or adjust the texture.

Peanut butter often contains sugar or sweeteners. Sugar isn’t poisonous for cats, but it works as a mild stimulant, making a cat hyperactive, and can disrupt the gastroenteric tract function.

For this reason, cats also shouldn’t eat peanut butter cookies, especially if they contain chocolate which is toxic to cats.

Most sweeteners are safe for cats, apart from xylitol. Xylitol is toxic to cats, and a cat that has ingested xylitol may experience poisoning symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, difficulty breathing, and seizures.

Feline owners often wonder – does peanut butter kill cats? No, but there are cases when cats die after eating peanut butter due to xylitol poisoning.

Natural fats contained in peanuts are safe for cats – in fact, a cat’s diet should be rich in fats. However, cheap peanut butter often contains saturated fats and palm oil. Palm oil is toxic to dogs but not to cats.

Still, palm oil can cause gastroenteric upset and lead to pancreatitis if consumed regularly. Saturated fats can raise a cat’s cholesterol levels, leading to liver damage in the long term.

Lastly, peanut butter often contains sodium. Salt is a natural preservative and is vital for the proper fluid metabolism in a cat’s body. However, cats shouldn’t consume over 41 milligrams of sodium a day.

Always read the label for peanut butter ingredients dangerous for cats. Ideally, choose organic, pure peanut butter without sugars, saturated fats, and salt.

How Much Peanut Butter Is Safe For Cats?

Assuming your cat has no underlying medical conditions, you can give it peanut butter as an occasional snack. But how much peanut butter is safe for cats?

A cat’s diet should consist of at least 50% protein, 10%-20% carbohydrates, and 30% fats. Treats should account for 10% of the total cat’s daily calorie intake at most.

Considering that an average cat consumes about 220-300 calories daily (22-30 calories per pound of body weight), treats should only account for 22-30 calories.

A teaspoon of smooth, pure peanut butter contains about 31 calories, which fits the recommended calorie intake for treats. However, you should also keep track of the protein, carb, and fat ratio in your cat’s diet.

Remember that peanut butter is very high in fats. About 19 calories out of 31 come from fat, and a cat’s daily calorie intake from fat shouldn’t exceed 100.

Therefore, the recommended peanut butter serving for cats that already eat food high in fats may be smaller. If it’s the first time you’re feeding your cat peanut butter, start with a tiny dose of about 1/8 of a teaspoon.

Then, monitor your cat’s reaction to the new food throughout the day for signs of intolerance or allergy.

Are There Any Nutritional Benefits To Feeding Cats Peanut Butter?

We’ve determined that peanut butter is a suitable treat for a cat, but is peanut butter healthy for cats? The benefits of feeding cats peanut butter are doubtful, but they don’t equal zero.

Peanuts are rich in fiber, vitamin E, niacin, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Fiber is responsible for the proper function of a cat’s digestive tract, and increased fiber consumption can help cats with chronic constipation.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, protecting red blood cells from damage, while vitamin B6 is essential for nervous system health and the proper brain development in kittens. Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is vital for DNA repair and memory maintenance.

Manganese in cats is necessary for bone, skin, and teeth health, while magnesium is a calcium blocker than helps muscles relax after contracting. Pure peanut butter indeed contains many elements integral to a cat’s health.

However, peanut butter isn’t a substitute for a cat’s normal diet, and a cat shouldn’t consume it regularly because the health risks induced by high fat content exceed the benefits.

On the other hand, the high fat content of peanut butter can be beneficial for kittens over four months old and pregnant felines.

Still, high-quality dry food formulated specifically for felines contains all the vital for your cat’s health nutrients, vitamins, and microelements. In fact, a surplus of specific elements can even be dangerous.

For example, too much potassium can cause kidney failure, muscle spasms, and constipation, while a surplus of vitamin A makes a cat’s coat dull and skin dry. Moderation is vital when it comes to any elements.

Potential Peanut Butter Adverse Effects

The adverse effects of peanut butter on cats are primarily gastroenteric. A cat may experience flatulence, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and bloating. Constipation is unlikely because peanut butter is rich in fiber.

Mild food intolerance symptoms in cats typically occur within an hour from ingesting the food and last for up to 12 hours. If the symptoms are severe or you notice blood in the stool or in vomit, call a vet.

In rare cases, cats with gastroenteric upset need intravenous fluid administration to prevent dehydration.

If the cat is lethargic, loses coordination, or has seizures, check the peanut butter label for xylitol content. Xylitol poisoning in cats can be lethal, so timely veterinary intervention is critical.

Peanut Butter Allergy Symptoms in Cats

True food allergies in cats are relatively rare and can be easily confused with food intolerance. But while intolerance arises in the gastroenteric tract, allergy is an immune system’s response that can be more dangerous.

Apart from the gastroenteric tract, food allergy in cats can affect the skin, eyes, ears, and respiratory system, causing irritation, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, and asthmatic attacks.

How To Deal With Peanut Butter Allergy

Food allergies in cats can’t be cured, but they can be managed. The first step in dealing with a peanut butter allergy is reducing exposure to the allergen. Your cat shouldn’t ingest, smell, or touch the butter.

In most cases, eliminating exposure to the allergen is sufficient. However, if the cat’s symptoms are severe, it may need veterinary help. For example, a cat with an asthmatic attack may need a steroid injection or ventilator.

Why Does My Cat Love Peanut Butter?

The most plausible explanation for why a cat loves peanut butter is the feline obsession with fatty foods.

Despite a common misconception, cats aren’t attracted to sweet foods because they don’t have the taste buds responsible for sensing sugars.

So, if your cat is obsessed with your peanut butter jelly sandwich, sweetness isn’t the reason. In contrast, fats are an integral element of any cat’s diet, and felines perceive fat foods as a delicacy.

Furthermore, every cat’s taste preferences are unique. Like humans, each cat is an individual, and yours may simply like something about the smell, texture, or flavor of peanut butter.

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