Humanity has been consuming pistachios for at least 9,000 years and it is good for us. But how about cats? Can cats eat pistachios?
Although a lot of people think that pistachios are nuts, they are not. Pistachios are the seeds of pistachio trees and are in the same botanical family as cashews which are also not nuts. We eat them, we love them, our cats love to play with them therefore we need to consider one big question. Can cats eat pistachios?
Pistachios are eaten raw, roasted, in sauces, meals, deserts, baked goods… The list goes on! Pistachio is an amazing, nutritious, tasty and versatile food that is loved by almost everybody and the U.S.A. is the biggest pistachio producer in the world.
Average American consumes about 0.6 pounds of pistachios per year. This is way over world average which means that the cats in America have more access to pistachios and pistachio products than its brothers and sisters living elsewhere. Let’s see if it is OK for cats to have pistachios.
Can cats eat pistachios?
In order to answer the question “can cats eat pistachio”, we need to mention a few basic things but if you are looking for the short answer: NO, cats can’t eat pistachios! It is not toxic to cats and eating pistachios will not kill your little furball instantly but it doesn’t have any health benefits and in fact it carries some health risks.
The health risks associated with cats eating pistachios range from gastrointestinal issues to choking and rarely poisoning due to moldy pistachios. We will inspect each of these issues one by one but let’s first investigate if there are any health benefits of feeding pistachios to cats.
Are there any health benefits of pistachios to cats?
Cats are obligate carnivores which means that they need meat in order to survive. The anatomy of a cat is so amazing that their bodies produce almost everything they cannot get from meat. But on the other hand, their digestive system is not really good at digesting plants and benefiting from them.
This is to say that although they can eat a small amount of plant material, it is not that nutritious for them. The same principle applies to pistachios, as well. In our daily urban lives, we almost never interact with any carnivorous animals except for cats.
Therefore, we are not used to the eating habits of a predator. Most of the time our logic works with what it can compare, and we tend to compare what a cat can eat with what we or in best cases dogs can eat. Neither humans nor dogs are good comparisons because we are omnivores which means we can eat both plants and animals.
For this reason, never assume a food that is good for humans or dogs is also good for cats. Pistachios have so little benefit to cats that the risks involved are far more than the benefits. So, let’s ask again: can cats eat pistachios?
Are pistachios safe for cats?
Pistachios can be raw or processed with different techniques. The problem with the raw pistachios is if they are not stored properly, they may become contaminated with mold which can lead to aflatoxin poisoning. The mold we are talking about does not affect humans much, but it can be dangerous to cats.
Although aflatoxin poisoning is a very, very rare event, it still is a risk worth mentioning.
On the other hand, processed pistachios are full of elements you would want to keep your cat away from such as sodium, preservatives, additives and flavourings. Most store-bought pistachios are processed with salt and too much salt can be a real problem for kitties.
Preservatives and flavourings are even more dangerous to salt. Your cat can handle a little bit of salt if it is not an everyday thing but some flavourings such as garlic and onion are toxic to cats and should be avoided at all costs. Sodium benzoate, a commonly used preservative, is also toxic for our little friends so be careful.
Maybe the most dangerous thing about pistachios is their shells. These are real choking hazards because cat teeth are not evolved to crack these shells and they can block their throats or obstruct their airways. Even if they manage to swallow the shells, they may still obstruct the digestive tract and the only treatment for that is a surgical operation.
Conclusion – Can cats eat pistachios?
The short answer to the question “can cats have pistachios” is NO. Pistachio itself is not toxic to cats but it involves many risks from choking to poisoning due to preservatives, additives and flavourings. It has no health benefits to cats, so it is not worth feeding pistachios to your cat.
If your cat snatches a pistachio, observe your cat for 24 hours and if you see any of the symptoms below, call your veterinarian immediately:
- Any out of ordinary behaviour such as constant meowing from a kitty that is otherwise quite
- Bloody or dark stool
- Mucous membranes that are yellow in colour
- Lack of appetite
Can cats eat pistachios?
Cats should not eat pistachios not because pistachios are toxic but because they involve risks of choking, gastrointestinal issues, and (although rare) aflatoxin poisoning. Instead of pistachios, you may give small amounts of celery, cauliflower or broccoli to your kitty as healthy snacks.
My cat ate pistachios. What should I do?
You don’t need to panic if your cat ate a few pistachios, but you need to observe your cat for the next 24 hours just to be on the safe side. If you see any unusual behaviours call your veterinarian and act in accordance with the veterinarian’s instructions.
Also, make sure that your kitty did not swallow any shells, in that case call your veterinarian because pistachio shells can still be a problem after they reach the stomach.