Peanut butter is one of those food items that is just lip-smackingly delicious, enjoyed by everybody, everywhere around the world. It is just that perfect mix of salty, sweet, savory and crunchy that gets your taste buds tingling. And it’s not just humans who enjoy peanut butter – if you’re a dog owner, you probably already know that peanut butter is an absolute treat for your canine companion.
But what if you own a cat? Can you feed peanut butter to your cat just like you would to your dog? Well, the short answer is – yes. However, this doesn’t mean you should start stuffing them silly with gobs of your favorite peanut butter. There are exceptions to allowing your cat to consume peanut butter, and since your cat’s health is tied directly to his or her nutrition, it is always advisable to keep yourself informed about what you’re feeding or not feeding them.
Yes, cats CAN eat peanut butter BUT should they?
Peanut butter is not listed as being poisonous or toxic to cats, as there are no active ingredients or chemicals that may cause issues to their body’s balance. This means that if your cat consumes peanut butter, there won’t be any immediate adverse health effects. But experts have advised that giving your cat peanut butter as a regular treat isn’t such a good idea either. Here’s why.
Why is peanut butter could be unsafe for cats?
Peanut butter is unsafe for cats because of a few reasons, listed below:
1. Texture is a choking hazard
Have you ever swallowed a mouthful of peanut butter, only to stop everything you’re doing just to chew, break down and swallow that big, sticky, crunchy glob in your mouth? Or even had a little choke because the peanut butter was so dense as you swallow it?
The texture of peanut butter is thick and sticky – this means that a small glob of peanut butter is enough to create a potential choking hazard for your cat’s throat and esophagus, if it’s not broken down properly before being swallowed.
2. May cause allergies
Much like humans, cats may have allergies too, and peanut allergies are among some of the most common ones in both. These allergies may result in life threatening complications as well, so if you don’t know that your cat has a peanut allergy, it’s always best to consult your vet for a professional opinion before you start letting your cat lick away at the peanut butter spoon.
3. Offers no nutritional value
Peanut butter is savory, sweet and crunchy – an absolute treat. But for what it offers in taste, it lacks in nutritional value. Cats are carnivorous creatures with a diet that should consist of meats, fish and dry food that are vitamin enriched and give them all the nutrition they need to live a healthy life. Peanut butter offers no benefit to your cat’s health, rather, it may even cause complications such as diabetes in the future if regularly consumed.
4. High calories
It is well known that peanut butter is a high calorie food. This makes it even more dangerous to feed peanut butter to a cat that is suffering from weight issues. If your cat is overweight, feeding him or her peanut butter on a regular basis is not going to help at all. In fact, it will eventually make things worse.
5. Risk of cancer causing toxins
Peanuts have a naturally occurring chemical compound called aflatoxins, which is a type of mycotoxin. Mycotoxins have been found to contain high cancer-causing properties, and in large amounts, are known to be toxic to the liver and can lead to liver cancer. Just like all things, moderation is key, but for avoidance of doubt, especially in cats with underlying conditions, it’s advisable to keep them away from the peanut butter.
6. Peanut butter often contains Xylitol
Xylitol is a sweetener that is used in most commercial peanut butter brands to replace sugar. Although the connotation ‘less sugar’ would mean healthier for us humans, cats cannot take Xylitol, and it is toxic to their bodily functions. It causes symptoms like lethargy, vomiting and nausea that may lead to complications such as liver failure.
When can I feed my cat peanut butter?
If you do intend to give your cat a tiny lick of a peanut butter treat once in a while, it’s safe to do so. But try not to do it regularly!
There is actually a little trick that some pet owners use to get their cats to swallow medicine such as pills. Cats like the sweet and savoury taste of peanut butter, so coating the pill with a little bit of peanut butter may help to encourage your cat to swallow the necessary medicine. If you use this technique, always ensure that your cat has a water bowl nearby to wash down the peanut butter from their mouth and throat.
How to feed peanut butter to your cat safely
Before putting peanut butter as an occasional treat for your feline friend, it’s advisable to talk to your veterinarian first to be sure that your cat has no allergies or underlying conditions that can be aggravated by peanut butter.
As a general rule, treats should not exceed 10% of your cat’s daily calories. This means if your cat eats 200-300 calories per day, you should only feed 20-30 calories worth of treats to your cat. Calculate the calorie level per serving on the jar of peanut butter to gauge how much should be on the scooping spoon for your cat to enjoy.
Never feed your cats peanut butter that contains xylitol, as this is highly toxic to cats and will often lead to further complications that will stress out both of you!
After feeding your cat a peanut butter treat for the first time, always look out for any signs of gastrointestinal issues (diarrhea, vomiting). Stop immediately if any of these symptoms occur, and call your vet if your cat has had an adverse response to peanut butter.