Treating your cat to human food from time to time is not uncommon for feline owners. But some foods are better left in the cupboard, as they could either harm your pet immediately or lead to some other health problems in the future. So can cats eat peanut butter, that deliciously smooth snack packed with nutrients? The answer may surprise you!
Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?
If you have a dog, you may already know that canines can, in fact, eat peanut butter on occasion, and most of them even enjoy it. With cats, however, the story is starkly different.
Peanut butter is made by various commercial and organic brands, so it’s not that you have to settle on an additive-laced jar. Furthermore, peanut butter is packed with nutrients, such as essential minerals and vitamins, including zinc, vitamin B-6, and magnesium. It’s also a wonderful source of protein and contains about 7.02 grams of it per two tablespoons.
However, though a human could take advantage of all these benefits, cats don’t gain much from eating peanut butter. Felines have evolved to be carnivores, so any nutrients they may need can be acquired from eating fish and meat. Your cat is unlikely to need any supplements either if you pick the right brand of cat food. Regular dry or wet food, as well as raw food, are all it needs to thrive.
Now, peanut butter itself isn’t toxic, so felines won’t die from it if you give them a tiny bit (at least not directly). Still, it may contain ingredients that could cause some health issues for your cat.
Effects Peanut Butter Has on Cats
Those wondering can cats eat peanut butter? are, more often than not, actually curious about what would happen if they were to give it to their felines. Unfortunately, there may be some consequences.
There’s a pretty logical reason cats shouldn’t eat peanut butter at all (or only in very small amounts). Peanut butter is packed with calories, so any indoor cat enjoying it often enough could become obese over time.
This is something you have to take seriously as obesity in cats can contribute to various diseases. Obese cats are at a higher risk of suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. The excess weight can also lead to joint degeneration, osteoarthritis, and urinary bladder stones. Worst of all, it has been shown that obese cats have shorter lifespans.
The spread also contains trans-fatty acids, which should prolong the shelf life of your peanut butter jar. The high-fat content found in the spread, not to mention the type of fat it contains, can be bad for a cat’s health overall.
Even humans may see peanut butter as a choking hazard since it’s so sticky and thick. The same can be said for cats, as even a little bit can get caught in their throats.
The easiest way to prevent this is to monitor your cat whenever you’re giving it peanut butter. Of course, it’s best not to give it a full spoonful, especially if the cat is young and has never tried out anything that sticky before.
But even with a small amount, stay by your cat to make sure it eats it slowly. What’s more, provide plenty of fresh water in case some of the spread does get stuck so that the cat can wash the peanut butter down.
3. Allergic Reaction
Some cats may develop food allergies that could cause serious health issues. The worst part is that you won’t know if the feline is allergic to peanut butter until you give it some.
If you want to try your luck, check for some of the clinical signs of adverse reactions, such as:
• Vomiting and diarrhea
• Hair loss and chronic ear infections
• Itching and skin irritation
• Lowered appetite and weight loss
If you notice any of these signs, make sure to get your cat veterinary help as soon as possible.
4. Gastrointestinal Upset
Gas, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain are just some of the signs that peanut butter may not be the best treat for your feline. Some cats may enjoy its taste and may not even have trouble eating it properly. However, a gastrointestinal upset would leave both of you pretty miserable and prevent the cat from living its best life.
Some homeowners opt to deal with a rat or insect infestation by setting up small traps. These traps can contain poison and some peanut butter to make it more palatable. But your feline wouldn’t be able to recognize poison and may feast on the traps, thus accidentally poisoning itself.
Another problem is that many brands add salt to their peanut butter, which can be potentially poisonous to both cats and dogs. Common signs of salt poisoning include:
• Vomiting and diarrhea
• Excessive thirst or urination
• Lowered appetite
• Tremors, seizures, coma, and death (in severe cases).
6. Ingesting Aflatoxins or Xylitol
Finally, you should be aware of the content of peanut butter, or rather, the fact that peanuts contain aflatoxins. These toxins are produced by fungi that grow on crops, including peanuts, maize, tree nuts, and cottonseed. Unfortunately, they are poisonous carcinogens and can damage the liver, even causing liver cancer.
Another hazardous ingredient is xylitol. To make products with less sugar, manufacturers often use xylitol as a replacement. But xylitol is toxic to animals, as it can cause a sudden release of insulin, inevitably causing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
If your cat has consumed something with xylitol, it may show clinical signs of toxicity, such as:
The feline may go into a coma and experience liver failure in extreme cases, leading to its untimely death.
So can cats eat peanut butter? In general, they can, but it’s best to use the spread as a way of making sure the cat takes its medications. You can coat the pills with the smallest amount of PB and provide lots of fresh water to ensure there’s no choking.
In all other cases, it’s smart to stay away from it. Instead, use an alternative, such as additive-free canned pumpkin, which overall comes with more health benefits and is unlikely to harm your feline.