We all know that cats have a reputation for being picky eaters. They love fish and seafood, some like cheese and most like milk. For some people, there is a legitimate question of “Can cats eat peanut butter?”
It’s an important question because many cats really like peanut butter. But are you taking a chance by giving it to your cat? If so, how much can you give? Is it actually good for your cat?
Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?
The answer is yes, it is safe for cats to eat peanut butter. Peanut butter, for the most part, is not toxic to animals. Yet you do have to be concerned with the ingredients in peanut butter beyond the peanuts.
Also, you should not overdo it because your cat might be allergic to peanuts.
Beyond that, look for peanut butter that is made with real sugar but NEVER give your cat or dog peanut butter made with Xylitol, which is a substitute for sugar.
Xylitol has the potential to be fatal for both cats and dogs. For cats, it causes a severe drop in blood sugar levels by releasing insulin into the cats’ blood. This hypoglycemia can cause vomiting, lack of coordination, lethargy, seizures and eventually coma.
Peanut butter is fine for cats as long as it does not contain Xylitol. Many brands have been substituting it for sugar.
Yes, cats can eat peanut butter, but it’s a treat not an essential. It’s something they would like and enjoy, not something that they need.
We like to share the things we love with our companion animals and it’s ok to do so in moderation.
What’s Good About Peanut Butter?
Can cats eat peanut butter? Yes. Is peanut butter good for your cat or is it a superfluous treat that they really don’t need? The answer depends on the cat.
Peanut butter is full of protein and it is also full of fat. Both items are needed for cats, but both fat and protein can be hard to process for the cat’s digestive system.
Proteins are needed to develop strong muscles and overall strength and health. Fats help the cat’s circulatory system. These same fats are helpful in keeping the coat and skin in good shape for your cat.
What else is in peanut butter that could be good for your cat?
- Vitamin H – biotin – adds a sheen to the coat and helps to strengthen the cat’s nails. Broken or split nails can be a serious problem for cats if they become infected or painful. Itchy or aggravated skin can cause itching and then infection.
- Vitamin A assists with the immune system. Cats can become sick quickly and pick things up from other cats as well as spreading them to other cats and to children. It also protects your cat from serious illnesses later on in life.
- Vitamin E – resveratrol – helps to reduce your cat’s risk for cardiovascular and heart disease.
Although it is fine for cats to eat peanut butter, it can have harmful effects if you give them too much at one time.
Peanut butter is high in fat and high in sodium and it can have some ill effects on your cats. A few things can happen when a cat eats peanut butter that is not pleasant for the cat.
- Allergies: Some cats are allergic to peanuts just as some people are. Cats having an allergic reaction could become nervous, also cats can start scratching themselves ferociously, swelling up or sneezing non-stop.
- Digestive System Issues: Some cats who can tolerate peanut butter from an allergic point of view can’t tolerate it in their digestive system. The cat’s digestive system is not made to tolerate a high level of fats and a high level of sodium. They cannot metabolize all that fat. Therefore, it is important to give a very small amount of peanut butter each time you allow your cat this treat.
If their system cannot handle it, they will vomit and/or have serious diarrhea. Cats have a hard time digesting many human foods.
The human digestive system is slower than the cat’s, but we can actually digest food better while the cat risks constipation, diarrhea or indigestion with too much peanut butter.
The cat can handle the digestive process for peanut butter but only in small doses. If the cat can burn off the fact with normal exercise than its OK.
Your best bet if you must give your cat peanut butter, is to get low fat, low sugar, low salt peanut butter. Believe it or not, they are out there in almost any supermarket.
There is also the option of buying peanut butter that is made especially for cats, at your local pet store. Even with this type of peanut butter, use discretion and don’t give a lot or often.
Peanut Butter can lead to obese cats or diabetic cats, neither is good for your cat’s long term health. Remember to watch your cat carefully as they can also choke on the thick, pasty peanut butter.
For loose stools, you can either not give your cat anything, except water for an entire day or cook her some rice and chicken.
After this, if you see any signs of difficulty, call or see your veterinarian right away.
Although fine in small doses, peanut butter doesn’t give your cat the amino acids she needs. Only animal protein – meat – will do that.
Serving Peanut Butter
So, if you are going to give your cat peanut butter remember, it needs to be in very small amounts.
Start by letting cat lick it off your finger and see what its reaction is. Then make sure they have plenty of water available.
If that goes well, you can move on to give your cat a small amount on a teaspoon – not a full teaspoon – maybe a half. You can give it to your cat a few times during the week.
Cats are much more sensitive than dogs. So, if you live with both just know you cannot treat them the same.
People have been giving peanut butter to dogs for eons without issues. Don’t expect your cat to respond the same way your dog would.
Don’t give your cat peanut butter every day of the week. You know how finicky they can be, and it is quite possible that your cat will love peanut butter more than they like their regular food.
It could stop eating regular food.
Treat your cat like you would a child. He must eat his regular food before he gets any peanut butter treat.
“Can cats eat peanut butter ?”, you asked. The answer is yes, but it is not the best food or treat choice you could make for your cat. Peanut butter is not harmful in very small amounts, but the good benefits it offers are not really that important either.
Some cats might be allergic to the peanuts, the oil or any other component of the product. Allergic reactions include itchy skin, bloating, vomiting.
If any of these reactions are severe or last for hours call your vet.
However, most cats will not react this way. This is especially true if you start out with very small amounts and build up to about half a teaspoon or so.
Remember, it is hard for your cat to digest the fat and the sodium that is in most commercial peanut butters.
If you can find a low fat, low sodium peanut butter that would be the best. When looking for the right peanut butter for your cat don’t forget the dangers of Xylitol that we mentioned previously.
Xylitol acts as a sugar substitute but it is actually a sugar acid. It is toxic to both cats and dogs. Granted it is almost always fatal for dogs, causing hemolytic anemia, it can be just as devasting for cats.
For cats it can cause a severe drop in blood sugar levels and cause seizures and comas. Just be sure to read the labels because more peanut butter manufacturers are using Xylitol as healthier for humans.
They are not considering our four-legged friends.
So, what is the bottom line? Can cats eat peanut butter? Yes, they can. Should they? The jury is still out on that one.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of benefit to doing so, except that your cat likes it. At the same time, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reason not to allow them to have it in moderation.
Moderation is once again – the key.
Think of peanut butter for your cat as a dessert. Your child can’t have dessert any time they want it.
Neither can your cat.
Your child has to eat regular, healthy food before they get dessert. So does your cat.
Remember, peanut butter is like junk food for your cat.
Victoria Nelson is a lifelong animal lover. She grew up in a small farm with a wide variety of pets that included dogs, cats, cows, fish etc. A published author since 18, she loves writing, and nothing makes her happier than writing about animals and sharing useful animal care tips.