Does your cat look at you longingly every time you prepare a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Lick their lips when they see a peanut butter cookie? They may want a taste.
However, like any good pet owner, you’re worried about those foods being safe. You’re in luck: Spot Pet Insurance provides the resources you need to create a safe diet for your cat. Below, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of giving your cat peanut butter.
Can your cats eat peanut butter?
First, peanut butter isn’t a necessary component in your cat’s diet. Cats are carnivores, so they get their nutrition from animal proteins such as chicken and fish instead. Peanut butter contains a mix of fats, proteins, and vitamins, but it doesn’t provide those essential meat-based nutrients. Eating too much peanut butter might also give your cat stomach trouble, and it’s high in calories to boot.
All that aside — yes, cats can have peanut butter (if they’re healthy).
It’s generally safe to give cats small amounts to satisfy them — as long as the brand you choose doesn’t contain certain toxic additives. If your cats have trouble taking their medicine, peanut butter can also come in handy.
Is peanut butter safe for cats?
Peanut butter is safe for cats as long as there are no unnatural ingredients or chemicals. Peanut butters that contain additives like preservatives and sugar substitutes may be toxic to your cats.
For instance, xylitol is a common additive in peanut butter that’s often used in place of sugar. However, it’s a sugar alcohol that’s harmful to cats. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause your cat’s blood glucose to crash. It’s not good for dogs either, and small pups like the Lhasa Apso especially should never ingest it.
Sugar substitutes can cause serious health complications and even seizures. If your cat ingests xylitol, they may show the following symptoms:
- Difficulty walking
These signs mean your cat needs urgent medical attention. Speak to your vet immediately if you notice these warning signs after your cat eats peanut butter with xylitol in it.
What are the benefits of peanut butter for cats?
Peanut butter is healthy for humans. It provides many nutrients that we need, including vitamin B, healthy fat, and proteins.
Cats, however, get all the nutrients they need from eating animal products, so peanut butter doesn’t provide any health benefits.
Rather, it can serve as a quick snack or a way to entice your feline friend to take their medicine. They don’t need much, and it certainly shouldn’t replace their normal diet.
What are the risks of giving your cat peanut butter?
Cats can enjoy a quick peanut butter snack — but only in moderation. Giving your cats peanut butter can have several risks for their health.
Peanut butter is delicious to humans in part because it often contains lots of sugar. Your cats don’t need all those carbs, and they certainly don’t need a diet that’s too high in calories.
Snacks like peanut butter should only form a fraction of a cat’s diet. This helps keep their nutrient intake within a healthy range.
Cats have a digestive system that’s different from ours. That means that many human foods will upset their tummy — and peanut butter isn’t an exception. Although some cats may tolerate it much better than others, these GI problems become much more frequent if your cat is eating lots of peanut butter.
It’s not unusual for a cat to get diarrhea after snacking on peanut butter. Other likely signs your cat is eating too much peanut butter include vomiting and indigestion.
Did you know that peanut butter can make your cat choke? Sadly, the sticky consistency makes it tough to clear their mouths and throats.
If you’re giving your cat peanut butter, don’t give them a large lump all at once. Also, ensure your cat has water close by in case it gets stuck in their mouth.
Cats can have a peanut allergy just like their human owners. They may develop these allergies over time or have had them since birth. Either way, you need to pay close attention to your cat each time you give them peanut butter.
The severity of their symptoms may vary, but you need to be able to identify and report them to your vet. Signs your cat may be allergic include:
- Hair loss
- Weight loss
- Ear infection
- Lack of appetite
Your vet can help your cat get the best care if they show signs of an allergic reaction.
Peanut butter contains sodium. This mineral is crucial for electrolyte balance, but too much can disrupt this harmony for cats. Watch how much peanut butter your cat eats, so they don’t ingest excess sodium. At high levels, it can cause health problems such as frequent urination, thirst, vomiting, or seizures.
The fungi Aspergillus and its several subspecies produce a toxic metabolite called aflatoxin that may be present in peanuts and peanut butter. This compound is harmful to cats and their humans, and large quantities can affect the livers of cats.
Luckily, most peanut butter manufacturers test rigorously for this toxin. Stick with a major brand, and you’ll likely be okay on this front.
How to give your cat peanut butter?
If you’ve weighed the risks and benefits and decided you want to indulge your cat in the occasional peanut butter snack, here’s how to do so safely.
Check the label
Before you even think of giving your cat peanut butter, check the label. Ensure that the brand doesn’t contain xylitol or other harmful additives. Look for 100% all-natural brands with a minimal ingredient list to be on the safe side.
If your cat has never had peanut butter before, start by giving them just a lick. You can judge how they respond to small amounts before giving them more.
Keep in mind not every cat will like peanut butter! Don’t be surprised if your cat turns away when you offer them some.
If you have a cat that doesn’t respond adversely to peanut butter, definitely don’t give them an entire jar to themselves. Allow them to eat moderate amounts to avoid health issues.
Keep it simple
You generally don’t need to perform many extra steps to prepare peanut butter for your cat. You can simply give them a spoon of peanut butter to lick after a proper meal.
If you’re trying to use the peanut butter to disguise a medicine in powder or liquid form, mix it thoroughly. Then, try spreading a bit on your cat’s paws. It may sound messy, but they’ll likely lick it up — medication and all — in no time!
Try other snacks instead of peanut butter
Peanut butter isn’t an ideal snack for a cat, so it’s best to come up with alternatives. Healthy options include:
- Small pieces of banana
How much peanut butter should your cat eat?
Your pet should get most of their nutrition from a veterinarian-approved diet. Snacks shouldn’t be more than 10% of their total daily intake.
For instance, if your cat is on a 300-calorie diet, snacks should be no more than 30 calories. Eating more than this amount only adds unnecessary calories that may affect your cat’s health long-term.
Beyond the excess calorie intake, cats can experience unpleasant side effects from eating excess peanut butter. Try to give your cat no more than half a tablespoon of peanut butter twice weekly.
Your cats can eat small amounts of peanut butter with no problem. But you have to be careful: Always read the label carefully and avoid brands that contain xylitol, preservatives, and high sodium. Above all, make sure that peanut butter is only a small part of your cat’s diet, and consider healthier alternatives like carrots and tuna.
Have other questions about your cat’s diet? Spot Pet Insurance is here to answer all your questions on how to help keep your cats safe, happy, and purrfectly healthy.