Many of us (and our dogs) can’t get enough of the gooey, sticky, delicious spread, peanut butter. But maybe you’ve noticed another furry family member sniffing around your PB&J. Can cats eat peanut butter? We’ll take a look at why your cat probably shouldn’t indulge.
Can cats eat peanut butter?
The simple answer is yes, cats can eat peanut butter—but it’s typically not recommended because it’s not beneficial nor is worth the risk. The ASPCA does not list peanut butter as toxic to cats. However, peanut butter doesn’t have much nutritional value for cats—plus it can lead to obesity and other negative side effects if consumed too frequently.
Cats don’t need peanut butter
If you’re a peanut butter lover, you’re probably well aware that the spread is high in fats, protein, and carbs, along with salt and even sugar. Your cat doesn’t really need any of these ingredients. Sure, they require a diet that is high in protein and some fats, but they are obligate carnivores, meaning they need animal-based protein and fats.
So when, if ever, can cats eat peanut butter? A taste of peanut butter here and there probably isn’t going to make your cat sick or lead to obesity. For instance, if you have to give your cat medication, you might consider using peanut butter for the old conceal-a-pill trick.
Too much peanut butter can make your cat sick
Like any food rich in unnecessary nutrients for the feline diet, there is the potential for cats to get sick from eating too much peanut butter. Although it’s unlikely your cat will have an allergic reaction to peanut butter as some humans do, they can be allergic and react, so it’s good to be aware of what negative reactions might look like. These include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or gas
- Difficulty breathing
Some peanut butters include added chemicals that may be toxic to your feline friend. An example of this is xylitol, which has been historically used in peanut butter as a sweetener. While this toxicity is much better described in dogs and can cause fatal liver damage, it is suspected that a similar process occurs in cats and it is safer to avoid ingestion.
If you notice your cat experiencing any serious allergic reactions or vague symptoms, get to a vet right away for medical treatment.
Beware peanut butter in pest control products
This goes for dog and cat parents alike: Some pest control products incorporate peanut butter flavors as a form of bait. For instance, a popular rodenticide bait comes in specially formulated blocks that have a peanut butter flavor to attract and eliminate mice and rats.
If your pet already has a nose (and the tastebuds) for peanut butter, be especially cautious of them finding peanut butter-flavored rodenticides—outdoors and inside.
Can cats eat peanuts?
We’ve established that peanut butter doesn’t provide your cat with any nutritional value. What about peanuts? Unsurprisingly, the nutritional value of peanuts is also of little benefit to your cat. Again, peanuts tend to be high in protein and fats, but not the kind your cat requires.
Furthermore, peanuts may pose a choking hazard for your cat. If you do want to allow your cat a peanut snack, make sure the peanuts are unshelled, diced or chopped small, unsalted, and sugar-free. Last but not least, make sure to supervise while your cat eats peanuts.
Now you know that while cats can eat peanut butter, they shouldn’t eat much of it.