Peanut butter is a common enough ingredient in many pantries. It’s able to be used in a lot of cooking, baking, and meals; it’s a favorite for kids and adults, and it’s a quick punch of protein. If you have peanut butter around and you use it regularly, your cat may be very curious about what you’re eating and may want to try a taste of it for themselves. And since peanut butter is so high in protein, it would seem at first blush that it would be beneficial for a cat to have. But can cats eat peanut butter?
Do Cats Like Peanut Butter?
Many cats do like peanut butter. It’s got the type of flavor that some cats enjoy (since it’s not really sweet), it’s got a nice texture, and since the humans can eat it, most cats will think it’s their duty to swipe their tongue on it too.
Personally, I’ve never owned a cat that actively went for my peanut butter, but my current cat will certainly lick it if I leave a plate with a smear lying around. So clearly there’s something to peanut butter that at least some cats enjoy.
Pet owners have often used peanut butter as a way to sneak pills past their cat. As long as your cat doesn’t have to take a lot of medication, this can be a good way to ensure that they are taking their medicine!
Do Cats Hate Peanut Butter?
If a cat doesn’t want any peanut butter, it’ll ignore it. It’s unlikely that you’ll get the death glare from a cat for offering it, but many cats simply won’t care about it.
Can Peanut Butter Kill Cats?
Peanut butter is considered non-toxic for cats. However, this comes with several amendments.
First of all, peanut butter does nothing health-wise for cats. The main ingredients of peanut butter – peanuts and salt – are not things that a cat needs in order to stay healthy. This is compounded by the fact that a lot of peanut butter has added things like molasses, honey, or sugar to make it even sweeter. Cats don’t need any of this to be healthy.
Furthermore, low-calorie peanut butter may have Xylitol added to it. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and can be problematic for cats (though this hasn’t been definitively shown). Vets are concerned that even though Xylitol poisoning in cats hasn’t be documented, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s best to avoid it altogether.
Second, ingesting too much peanut butter has been linked to diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, pain, decreased appetite, and difficulty pooping.
Peanut butter is also high in calories, sugar, and can contain trans fats, none of which are particularly good for humans and are worse for cats. A diet too rich in sugar and calories can easily lead to weight gain, diabetes, and heart conditions later in your cat’s life. Peanut butter also has aflatoxins that can cause cancer when ingested in too high amounts too regularly. Remember that for cats, that means a lot less than what we humans can manage.
There are some other things about peanut butter that can cause issues for your cat and can prove fatal with peanut butter as the instigator:
- Choking. Peanut butter is thick and sticky. Many cats may have problems swallowing it and if they try to swallow too big a wad, they can choke.
- Peanut butter is often used as bait for rodents and pests and laced with poison. If your cat is accustomed to thinking of peanut butter as a treat, they may go for it and end up poisoned.
The occasional taste of peanut butter probably won’t hurt your cat (unless it’s allergic to peanuts), but it’s definitely not the best treat for your feline buddy. It’s high in calories and sugar and doesn’t do anything for a cat’s health. Rather like soda for humans.
How much Peanut Butter is Safe for Your Cat?
Cats should not eat very much peanut butter. It can be treated as part of their 10% treats per day, but since peanut butter is so high in calories, a half teaspoon is probably as much as you should be giving them at any time.
You may be wondering whether you should avoid chunky peanut butter because of the pieces of peanuts. Most cats can handle these pieces fine, so give your cat whichever you want. It’s the Xylitol you want to avoid, not the peanuts. And the more natural the peanut butter is, the better.
Unlike humans, allergies to peanuts are very uncommon in cats. But you should watch your cat the first time or two it has peanut butter and look for the following signs of a reaction:
- Irritated skin
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Chronic ear infections
Always talk to your vet if you notice something is off about your cat and you’re concerned that it’s getting worse.
The Health Benefits of Peanut Butter for Cats
Peanut butter has no health benefits for cats. They derive nothing from the peanuts, they don’t need the sugar or salt, and they certainly don’t need the oils. The protein found in peanuts won’t do much for your cat compared to meat or fish. There’s not even enough water to make it worthwhile! Peanut butter is simply a straight-up treat for cats and as such, should only be given very sparingly.
Worried about your cat getting a sneaky lick off of your breakfast plate? You probably don’t have anything to fear. Peanut butter isn’t healthy for cats, but it’s not generally toxic either and allergic reactions are fairly uncommon.
Peanut butter can be a good way to get a cat to take its medicine, but at the same time, it’s not the kind of treat you should feed them too often as it is high in calories, sugar, and salt, none of which is good for cats. It can also encourage them to go snooping around pest traps which can make them quite ill if they ingest the poison.
All in all, there are better treats for most cats, and peanut butter is best avoided as much as possible.