By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 07/12/2021, edited: 11/12/2022
Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
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Peanut butter — it's a popular snack for people (and pups!). The National Peanut Board (yes, that's a real thing) estimates that the average American eats as much as 7.9 pounds of peanut butter-based products annually.
But can your cat enjoy a spoonful of peanut butter? The answer is yes. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should feed your cat peanut butter. And in some instances, peanut butter can even harm your feline friend.
Read on to learn more about feeding your cat peanut butter.
Do cats like peanut butter?
Yes, cats generally like peanut butter. While cats have no sweet taste receptors and can’t taste sweetness, many cats enjoy peanut butter's salty, nutty flavor.
Cats are also big texture eaters and may enjoy licking peanut butter off a spoon or your finger. That said, cats are picky eaters, unlike their canine counterparts, so it's tough to say if your cat will enjoy eating peanut butter.
Health benefits of peanut butter for cats
One of the main reasons you shouldn't feed your cat peanut butter? It lacks nutritional value for cats. Peanut butter contains vitamins and minerals — like iron, magnesium, and vitamin E — which can benefit cats. However, the health risks of eating peanut butter for cats outweigh the benefits.
For a start, peanuts are not a part of a cat's natural diet. Cats are obligate carnivores that require a significant amount of meat in their diet. Peanuts contain high levels of oil and fat, which can cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
Additionally, feeding your cat foods that are high in fat can cause your cat to gain weight, which could lead to health problems like obesity and diabetes later in life. There is also a risk of pancreatitis.
Some peanut butter contains high amounts of sodium, which can cause gastrointestinal issues, excess thirst, and even seizures in cats. High sodium levels in a cat's diet can also lead to heart disease.
It's also worth considering that, like humans, cats can be allergic to peanuts.
How much peanut butter can I give my cat?
You shouldn't give your cat peanut butter as a regular snack. That said, eating a tiny amount of peanut butter every once in a while is unlikely to cause your cat any serious health problems.
If you plan to let your cat occasionally eat peanut butter, ensure it's all natural. Peanut butter can contain sweeteners and food dye, which can negatively affect your cat's health.
While xylitol, a common sweetener, doesn't seem to cause liver failure in cats as it does in dogs, it is mildly toxic to cats and can cause lethargy and vomiting.
What should I do if my cat eats peanut butter?
Your cat should be fine if they ingest a small amount of peanut butter. Check for potentially harmful ingredients if you're concerned or if your cat has eaten a large amount of peanut butter.
Take your cat to a vet as soon as possible if your cat is suffering from acute gastrointestinal distress or is showing signs of an allergic reaction.
It's generally safe for a cat to eat a very small amount of peanut butter, as it's not considered toxic. However, peanut butter has no nutritional value for cats, and high levels of sodium and fat can harm your cat's health.
Additives, sweeteners, and food colorings in processed peanut butter are also potentially harmful to cats. Contact your vet if your cat has an adverse reaction after eating peanut butter.
Xylitol poisoning and peanut allergies in cats can be expensive to treat.
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