Health benefits of honey to humans are known for thousands of years and it also tastes great. So should our cats enjoy it, too? Can cats eat honey?
Honey is one of the miracle foods for humans. It is even scientifically proven that honey can be used to treat wounds and it works fast and efficiently. For thousands of years honey has been among the humanity’s most valued sources of nutrition and for good reason, too. If honey is so nutritious, healthy and beneficial, we would love our cats to benefit from it, too right? Not so fast! First we need to ask a few crucial questions starting with can cats eat honey.
The answer to “can cats eat honey” is not so simple. Is it safe? We can say that it is not toxic but safety depends on your definition of safe because even small amounts of honey can cause some issues.
Can Cats Eat Honey?
As mentioned earlier honey is not toxic to cats and can be eaten in very small amounts both in liquid or crystallized forms. However, overconsumption of honey can cause problems for kitties including but not limited to obesity, gastrointestinal issues, dental issues, diarrhea and botulinum.
Many experts state that honey should be completely avoided when it comes to feline consumption as the disadvantages rule out the benefits. Let’s see why.
Very Bad For Diabetic Cats
Just like humans cats can suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The symptoms of diabetes are generally weight loss, excessive thirst, and urination. Honey contains extremely high amounts of fructose and glucose. As a result, honey can cause a spike in insulin levels. Diabetes can be fatal if not treated properly and honey is definitely something to avoid if your cat has diabetes.
Since there is no fiber in honey and cat digestive system can not really process the fructose and glucose it consists, diarrhea is something to watch for. Overeating honey can give your little friend an upset stomach accompanied with vomiting and diarrhea.
Only half a teaspoon of honey is the daily limit for cats. So when we talk about overeating honey, it can easily be called over-licking.
Weight Gain and Obesity
Also honey is a high calorie food. There is 64 calories in only one teaspoon of honey. The average indoor cat needs only 20 calories per pound while average outdoor cat needs 35 to maintain their weights. So if your indoor cat is 10 pounds, it only needs about 200 calories everyday which means only 3 and a half teaspoons of honey is more than what it needs.
Considering almost 60% of all cats in U.S. are struggling with obesity, the extra calories they will get from honey would have a huge impact on their wellbeing.
Although there are no studies showing honey consumption causes botulism in cats, there are several cases where cats consuming honey regularly have this disease. Botulism is caused by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. The result of this rare disease is paralysis so take it seriously.
Your cat may even need to be hospitalized for treatment and the treatment may even include a mechanical ventilator if If your cat’s diaphragm becomes paralyzed.
No Real Nutritional Benefits
Cats, being obligate carnivores, need animal protein, a very small amount of fibers, essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients derived from real meat. As a result, cats don’t really need anything honey includes. In addition, cats are sweet blind which means they don’t have the taste receptors to understand this particular taste. Therefore, nutritional benefits aside, they don’t really enjoy the flavor either.
When Good Honey Does For Cats?
I mentioned disadvantages ruling out the benefits for feeding honey to cats. So what are the benefits of feeding honey to cats?
Just like humans cats can have sore throats and honey is used to help kitties with sore throats. Cat flu, bacterial or viral infections are known to cause sore throat in cats but it is hard to diagnose. It is better to consult to your veterinarian for such an issue as there are better and safer products out there that your veterinarian can recommend. Even if you want to treat your cat’s sore throat with honey, the amount of honey you can give is only a few drops.
Honey is known to be used to treat the symptoms of allergies in humans. It is also not completely wrong to give honey to cats for this purpose. Make sure to use raw and local honey as most of the honey sold in supermarkets are sterilized which means they don’t have the health benefits attributed to them or have very little such benefits. If your cat has allergies make sure to consult your veterinarian before feeding honey to your cat.
Treating wounds with honey is a scientifically proven method in humans. The good news is veterinarians also use it to treat open wounds. If you would like to know how to use it take a look at this article by Phil Zeltzman, DVM, Dipl. ACVS.
Conclusion on Can Cats Eat Honey
As mentioned earlier honey consumption for cats is not toxic but not recommended either.
The risks and disadvantages of honey consumption overrules the potential and small benefits it may bring.
The risks range from vomiting and diarrhea to paralysis due to botulism.
While there are other, healthier and less riskier treats such as broccoli, just don’t try to give honey to your cat.
In my opinion the answer to can cats eat honey is, yes they can but it is just not worth it.