If your cat meows for ham as you prepare a sandwich, you probably don’t think twice about giving it a piece. What if it’s peanut butter you’re spooning onto your bread? We give it to our dogs but is it safe for our feline friends?
Can cats eat peanut butter? There’s nothing that officially states cats can’t eat peanut butter but that doesn’t mean it should be part of their daily diet. There are many human foods not designed for consumption by cats and peanut butter is one of them. That said, a little peanut butter is unlikely to cause a cat any harm.
Everything you give a cat to eat should be carefully considered. Cats need a nutritionally balanced diet of a specific amount of calories to ensure they stay healthy. Before you feed a cat peanut butter, learn if it offers any health benefits or risks.
Is Peanut Butter Safe For Cats?
Don’t assume that because dogs can eat it that peanut butter is automatically safe for cats as they have completely different digestive capabilities. What is safe for a dog can be quite problematic for a cat.
So if you’ve given your cat peanut butter from time-to-time in blissful ignorance of whether it is good for it or not, you are about to discover the truth. Prepare to be surprised.
Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter Or Not?
Theoretically, peanut butter is not a harmful food for cats. However, it is also not an ideal healthy choice as a cat snack. Yes, cats thrive on high-protein foods but it’s the other ingredients lurking in the jar that have no place as part of their staple diet.
A cat can and will eat peanut butter but that doesn’t mean it is Ok for it to do so. A cat can’t make healthy choices – that’s a job for its owners! Though peanut butter is not toxic to cats, avoid including it as a regular part of their diet.
Peanut Butter Has No Nutritional Value For Cats
Cats are obligate carnivores which means they need protein from meat for survival. As such, they do not possess the ability to digest vegetables. You may be surprised to know that a peanut is not actually a nut but is a legume and therefore, a member of the vegetable family.
Though cats can eat peanuts and peanut butter, they have no nutritional value for them. There really is no health benefit in feeding peanut butter to a cat. If you want to spoil your cat, give it morsels of chicken or fish which are packed with the valuable proteins it requires.
Peanut Butter Contents
The ingredients in peanut butter vary from brand to brand.
Let’s look at one of America’s favorites.
- Roasted Peanuts
- 2% or less of Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed And Soybean), Mono And Diglycerides, Salt
Nutrition per 2 tablespoons (33g)
|Of which saturates||3.5g|
|of which dietary fiber||2g|
|and natural sugar||1g|
|and added sugar||2g|
A cat’s daily calorie requirements
When you consider that an average 10-pound cat needs just 250 calories a day to maintain weight, you can see how easily you could be giving it excess calories by feeding it peanut butter.
One teaspoonful of peanut butter contains over 30 calories and which equates to 12% of a 10-pound cat’s daily calorie requirement. And don’t forget, that’s 30 calories with no nutritional value to your cat whatsoever.
Sugar and cat teeth
The sugar in peanut butter is not great for a cat’s teeth. Cats are notorious for having periodontal issues because most of them refuse to have their teeth cleaned on a regular basis. It’s always best to avoid giving cats sugary snacks.
Salt in a cat’s diet
Cats require somewhere in the region of 20mg of sodium per day which is present in the correct amounts in pre-prepared cat food. One teaspoon of peanut butter would provide 23mg of sodium – more than it requires in any one day without counting the salt in anything else it consumes that day.
Cats and Peanut Butter Allergy Risks
Cats can be allergic to certain foods and so it is feasible for a cat to be allergic to peanuts and therefore peanut butter. That said, peanut allergy is rarely heard of in cats.
Mild food allergies
Mild allergies can be present from birth or develop with age. They are not life-threatening but cause varying levels of discomfort.
Signs of mild allergy to peanut butter are:
- Scratching at face and neck
- Runny, itchy eyes
- Excessive grooming
- Chewing at paws and body
- Hair loss
If your cat reacts in this way to peanut butter, don’t give it to it again. If it shows these signs and hasn’t eaten a peanut product, it may be allergic to some other food and you should seek your vet’s advice.
Severe food allergies
Whether a peanut allergy has ever caused anaphylaxis in a cat is unreported but should a cat have such a severe reaction, its life could be at risk if it is not given immediate medical treatment.
Common symptoms of anaphylaxis in a cat include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Facial swelling
If you spot any of these signs, especially after eating peanut butter or any new food, don’t waste any time – rush your cat to the nearest vet.
Peanut Butter and Xylitol
Xylitol, a sugar substitute, can be found in certain low-sugar products, including certain peanut butter brands. Whilst it is harmless enough to humans, it has severe health implications for dogs. Don’t panic as, according to the ASPCA, it is not harmful to cats, It is, however, an artificial ingredient that has no place in a cat’s diet.
If you are in the habit of giving your cat peanut butter, choose a brand with only natural ingredients.
Peanut Butter Choking Risk
Peanut butter can be harmful to cats if it gets stuck in their throats. The cloying, sticky nature of this product means it could be difficult for a cat to swallow.
A small amount could easily obstruct a cat’s airways if it inhales any as it attempts to eat it. For this reason, if you do treat your cat to peanut butter, make sure it is just a tiny amount and never leave it to eat it alone.
The Healthiest Peanut Butter Choices for Cats
You may be one of the many people who use peanut butter to help their cat swallow medication.
According to healthline.com, these are six of the healthiest peanut butter brands you can buy:
- Crazy Richard’s 100% Peanuts All Natural Peanut Butter
- 365 Everyday Value Organic Peanut Butter, Unsweetened & No Salt
- Trader Joe’s Creamy No Salt Organic Peanut Butter, Valencia
- Adams 100% Natural Unsalted Peanut Butter
- MaraNatha Organic Peanut Butter
- Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter
Find full details at healthline.com (opens in a new window)
Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter? The Verdict
Though peanut butter has not been declared dangerous for cats, it has no nutritional value to them. Yes, cats can eat peanut butter but it is empty calories to their digestive systems and you are better off opting for a healthier, specifically designed treat for cats.