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Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Yes, cats can eat peanut butter. But should they? Our feline friends are better off without it, according to vets. This is good news for your pet dog if you also have one - more peanut butter for him! Peanut butter is a healthy snack for humans and dogs, but it’s more of a junk food for cats and may even pose some health risks. Read on to learn more about cats and peanut butter. 

Cats and Peanut Butter - Experts’ Verdict

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) does not include peanut butter on their list of human foods that are toxic to cats. So if it’s not toxic, why shouldn’t you give kitty this creamy treat?

Cats will derive no nutritional benefit from peanut butter because, unlike dogs, even domesticated felines are strict carnivores. Peanut butter contains protein, fat, carbohydrates, and salt - nutrients that dogs are able to process and absorb. Cats, however, can only effectively process animal-based proteins and other nutrients in order to meet their needs. 

Peanut butter is high in calories and trans fats. Even if kitty enjoys it as a treat, it will just be like the completely unhealthy junk foods humans like to binge on and which often lead to weight-related health issues.  

With its sticky texture, there is also the risk of your cat choking on the peanut butter. If you do give kitty some peanut butter, to help administer her medicine for example, feed her the smallest amount possible and closely monitor her. Give her some water, as well, to help wash down the peanut butter.  

Cats are also prone to food allergies. If your cat has a previously unknown allergy to peanuts, giving her any amount of peanut butter can quickly become serious, especially if you do not recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction right away. 

Some cats may also experience gastrointestinal upset after ingesting too much peanut butter; they can have bloating, gas, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

Peanut butter is commonly used as an ingredient or bait in poisons meant for rodents and other pests. Cats are natural explorers and if they are used to having peanut butter as a treat, they might accidentally ingest poison laced with peanut butter.

Similarly, avoid giving your cat peanuts, as well as macadamia nuts and other heavily salted nuts. Peanuts are loaded with proteins, and cats require a lot of protein in their diet; however, peanuts or any other plant-based protein should not be your cat’s protein source

Not All Peanut Butters are the Same

If you absolutely must use peanut butter as a treat for your cat, such as when you need to coax her to take her medicine, make sure that you don’t give her peanut butter that contains xylitol - a popular sugar substitute that is extremely toxic to animals. Do not feed your cat the following peanut butter brands:

  • Go Nuts, Co.
  • Krush Nutrition
  • Nuts 'N More
  • P28 Foods
  • Protein Plus PB

Unfortunately, xylitol-free peanut butter is often high in sugar, and this poses a new set of health risks for your pet. You must also check the ingredients for salt content. Always opt for all-natural or organic peanut butter with no other ingredients added; your second best option is peanut butter with very little sugar and/or salt. 

Healthier Alternative to Peanut Butter

Pumpkin is a great and healthy alternative treat that you can give kitty instead of peanut butter. 

Boiled and pureed pumpkin has the same creaminess of peanut butter, and a host of health benefits. Pumpkin can help relieve diarrhea or constipation; its high fiber and water content effectively draws water from or adds bulk to stool, respectively. Pumpkin is also great for kitty’s diet if she needs to lose weight! It will keep her fuller longer while delivering many essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and iron.

If you’re gonna buy canned pumpkin, get a product that only contains pumpkin and nothing else. 

Other healthy treats you can choose from include:

  • Zucchini
  • Celery Carrots
  • Green bell peppers
  • Spinach 
  • Peas 
  • Broccoli

Peanut Butter for Cats - Final Thoughts

Peanut butter is considered a healthy snack for humans and dogs because peanuts contain healthy fats and good quality plant protein. For our carnivorous domesticated felines, however, peanut butter offers no nutritional value and may even pose some health risks. 

A cat will typically not even be attracted to the smell and taste of peanut butter. You will have to offer it to her before she’ll give it a try. If you must use peanut butter as a last resort, make sure the product does not contain xylitol, which is toxic to animals, or other added sugars and salt. Use only all-natural peanut butter that contains no other ingredient aside from peanuts. 

Give kitty the smallest amount possible and have her drink water to help her wash it down. Observe your cat for any adverse reactions; she may have a peanut allergy or the peanut butter may not agree with her stomach. Take her to the vet as soon as possible if she exhibits any adverse reactions to peanut butter. 

While non-toxic to cats, there is no benefit to giving kitty peanut butter. There are other, healthier alternative treats you can feed your feline friend. Similarly, you should not give her peanuts and most other nuts, especially processed ones.