Peanut butter is known to be a healthy food for people with all the proteins and vitamins it has. But human digestive system and feline digestive system are very different. Cats are carnivores which means their main nutritional need is animal based proteins such as birds or rodents. However, as humans we tend to give our cats human foods. As one of the frequently consumed human food peanut butter is one that you should know more about. Can cats eat peanut butter?
ASPCA does not list peanut butter in the list of foods to avoid feeding pets and just like peanuts, peanut butter is not toxic to cats. However this doesn’t mean that you should give your cat peanut butter.
Do Cats Eat Peanut Butter?
As mentioned above cats are carnivores and carnivores rely on meat to live. Peanut butter and peanuts in general are not a part of their diet. As with most food that is not a natural part of any species’ diet it may cause gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or vomiting.
Actually this is the same for people, too. When you eat a food that you are not used to, you get diarrhea. If the local food in a country you are visiting is very different than your regular diet, the diarrhea you get is not because the food is bad, it is because your body does not know how to process it.
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter to Cats
Peanut butter is known with its high protein and healthy fat content. However, when it comes to cats these proteins and healthy fats mean nothing because the carnivorous digestive system can not process plant proteins and those healthy fats may cause gastrointestinal issues.
Cats need a well-balanced diet with a variety of meat from birds and other animals. If your cat eats a commercial cat food, the chances are it probably doesn’t need any extra nutrition at all. The bottom line is peanut butter does not hold any nutritional value for cats and in fact it might be harmful.
Is Peanut Butter Safe for Cats?
Although peanut butter is not toxic to cats, it has some harmful effects.
Believe it or not peanut butter is a choking hazard for cats. Due to its sticky and thick texture, it can get caught in a cat’s throat and cause some serious issues. Please don’t just give a spoonful of peanut butter to your cat and leave the room. If you give peanut butter to your cat, monitor it closely and give it one of two licks and make sure there is plenty of clean, fresh water available so your little friend can wash it down.
Cats, just like humans, can have food allergies. Although the severity of these allergies vary from cat to cat and they are not to be taken lightly. Some of the most common symptoms are;
- Skin Irritations
- Chronic ear infections
- Hair loss
- Lack of appetite
If you notice any of these symptoms, consult to your veterinarian as the issue might get out of hand quickly. Food allergies might quickly lead to life-threatening situations such as anaphylaxis.
Peanut butter has trans fatty acids or trans fats which are a result of the manufacturing process that is needed for longer shelf life. These are actually toxic substances that lead to cardiovascular disease which in the end can cause heart attacks or strokes. These substances are dangerous for both human and animal health as they lower the good cholesterol and increase the bad cholesterol.
Another issue with the peanut butter is the high amount of calories it contains. The body-builders prefer eating peanut butter due to the high amount of calories in addition to other benefits but cats don’t need the extra calories a body builder needs. These extra calories can easily lead to an overweight or obese cat which is prone to a lot of diseases some of which are lethal such as diabetes and heart conditions.
Maybe one of the most problematic issue with peanut butter is xylitol. After a few decades of struggle, finally a lot of companies do not include sugar in their products anymore. However most of these companies make you wish that they used sugar instead of what they substituted sugar for. Xylitol is a food additive and a sugar substitute that is not harmful to humans but is extremely toxic to many animals and there have been countless deaths before this issue was realized.
Speaking of sugar, if there is no xylitol in a peanut butter, there is probably a lot of sugar. Excessive consumption of sugar can cause premature aging, diabetes, and inflammatory changes in a cat’s body. Also parasites, yeast infections, bacterial infections, and cancer feed off sugar and thrive in high sugar environments.
If your cat wanders around the neighborhood and has a taste for peanut butter, things may get complicated as most insect and rodent poisons include peanut butter because people mix them in peanut butter to attract the pests. Please don’t underestimate these accidental deaths because they occur more than you think.
Most brands include salt to their peanut butter. Too much salt is bad for cats and it can even be deadly. There is a condition called salt poisoning a.k.a. sodium ion poisoning and as the name suggests it can be deadly if not treated in time.
Conclusion on Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?
So… Can cats eat peanut butter? Yes, they can. Should cats eat peanut butter? Bo they absolutely shouldn’t because they don’t need it and there is no health benefit whatsoever.
If your cat eats one or two licks of peanut butter, don’t panic because it is not toxic to cats but monitor your cat for potential food allergy.
Just like other human foods, always consider what is inside the peanut butter jar and read the contents before feeding your it to your cat.
Pet nutritionists and veterinarians don’t recommend it but if you wish to give peanut butter to your cat, keep it as a treat that is given in small amounts and in rare occasions such as coating a pill that your cat does not want to swallow.