Brazil nuts are the seeds of Brazil nut trees that are found in the Brazil nut fruit. The nuts are harvested from the fruit itself and it has to be done very carefully because they only grow in scattered trees in pristine forests and cannot be over-harvested or else the trees stop producing.
As a result, Brazil nuts can be somewhat pricey, especially compared to nuts that can be produced and harvested on a more massive scale. They’re really good for humans, particularly with their high selenium content and relatively low-calorie count, but are they good for pets?
Specifically, can cats eat Brazil nuts?
Short answer: It’s murky. A nibble or two of a Brazil nut probably won’t hurt your cat, but that high selenium content, combined with the other oils found in Brazil nuts, means that too much of it can give your cat an upset stomach and even selenium poisoning. And all nuts are high in fat which can increase the risk of diabetes and organ issues (primarily pancreatitis). But a Brazil nut, or part of one, once in a while, probably won’t cause any issues.
Do Cats Like Brazil Nuts?
Nuts are definitely not something that most cats would eat if they were living in the wild. As obligate carnivores, it wouldn’t occur to most wild cats to bother with nuts. But domestic cats, watching their humans eat all kinds of things, get curious! And some cats probably will like Brazil nuts, both to eat and to chase around the kitchen.
Overall, though, you’ll probably find that most cats are rather baffled by a Brazil nut and will spend more time chasing it (or ignoring it) than actually eating it. But they might try a nibble and enjoy it – that’ll really depend on the cat.
Do Cats Hate Brazil Nuts?
It’s unlikely that most cats will hate Brazil nuts as much as they’d rather play with it. Nuts aren’t a natural part of a cat’s diet, so it’s not going to be something they crave or possibly even think of as food. But some cats who do try it may be put off by the flavor or the texture.
If this is your cat, you don’t have to worry that it’s missing out on something. While nuts have some good health benefits for cats, it’s nothing they cannot make up in the usual diet of meat.
Can Brazil Nuts Kill My Cat?
Pretty well any food, if it is eaten to the extreme, can be fatal to a cat, and Brazil nuts are no different. In the case of nuts, the damage is more long-term and is caused by eating a large number of nuts or eating them for too long.
Pretty well any nut has that particular problem for cats; their digestive systems just aren’t up to handling it. And remember, for cats, ‘too many Brazil nuts’ is many at all compared to humans.
The shorter digestive system of cats, which is perfect for meat, doesn’t work so well for nuts and can cause them to feel ill. The high-fat content can also cause pancreatitis over the long term which will make your cat very sick and may even contribute to its death by kidney failure.
The other issue with Brazil nuts is the thing that makes them appealing to humans: the selenium. While a small amount won’t do anything bad to a cat, too much can be toxic and it builds up in the cat’s body over time. If a cat eats Brazil nuts too regularly, its body cannot get rid of the selenium and that can cause damage.
Brazil nuts, and other nuts, can also have a high salt content. Too much salt can give cats sodium ion poisoning which manifests as vomiting, tremors, seizures, and even death. Unsalted nuts don’t carry nearly the same high risk, but it’s something to consider.
Brazil nuts can also be a choking hazard (particularly their ‘skins’ which are quite dry), though most cats are sensible enough to chew them carefully.
A small quantity of Brazil nuts, once in a while, is unlikely to harm your cat though, so if your cat got into your snack and had a nibble, you probably don’t have to race off to the vet unless your cat shows signs of an allergic reaction (itching, sneezing, wheezing, etc.) But most cats can handle a bite or two or a nut once in a while, no problem.
How Many Brazil Nuts are Safe for Me to Feed My Cat?
It’s difficult to definitively answer that. A few bites or a nut once in a while is safe enough, but cats should not be eating too many nuts in one day, nor should they be eating them daily.
Brazil nuts should be considered a very occasional treat, meaning that a small piece of one nut, maybe less than once a week, is sufficient.
Since cats don’t really get much nutritional benefit out of nuts anyway, there’s no point in making them part of a cat’s regular diet, and there are other treats that are much better for them anyway.
Are There Any Health Benefits of Brazil Nuts For Cats?
While Brazil nuts are quite good for humans, they don’t really carry the same punch for cats. But there are a few things which cats get out of them (albeit in small quantities):
- Vitamins E, B6, and A (Brazil nuts are a source of Vitamin C too, but since cats produce their own vitamin C, they don’t need the boost).
The minerals in particular are good for a cat’s coat, skin, teeth, and bones, so in that sense, they can be beneficial. However, given that cats can’t eat very many nuts and their digestive system is only somewhat good at extracting anything from them, you can figure that most of the amounts of these minerals are going to be pretty tiny.
Cats get most of their nutrition from properly formulated, quality cat food and from well-cooked, plain meat that you may give them as a treat.
Brazil nuts are good for humans (though expensive and hard to find in many places!) but not so good for cats. If you’re going to buy them, buy them for you and your family, not for your pets. Cats will be just as happy with their own food and treats and you won’t have to worry about them getting sick or choking.
Though they may enjoy playing with one of the nuts. I think my young cat would!
Does your cat like nuts and Brazil nuts or does it think of them as a weird toy? I think my cats would just bat them under the oven.
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.