Cats enjoy eating various human foods, and the creamy texture of peanut butter is very appealing. But some foods that humans eat can be toxic to felines, so you need to know if it’s safe to feed peanut butter to cats.
Cats can eat peanut butter in small amounts. They enjoy it, and it’s rich in fat and protein. It contains vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. But it has too much fat, so makes cats overweight. Your cat could have a nut allergy, so peanut butter could cause anaphylactic shock.
There are cat treats that won’t cause obesity, and won’t cause anaphylactic shock. Feed your cat these treats instead. We’ll look at peanut butter’s nutritional contents and if it’s a health food choice for cats.
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Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?
Feeding cats peanut butter in small amounts won’t make them ill, unless the cat is allergic. They don’t eat nuts in the wild, but cats are fed many foods in captivity by their owners that wouldn’t be a natural part of their diet.
Peanut butter doesn’t disagree with your cat’s digestive system, and it isn’t a human food that is toxic. It contains carbs, protein and fat, which all cats need to survive. But it shouldn’t be a core part of your cat’s diet.
Cats are obligate carnivores. This is an animal that needs to eat meat to survive. According to Veterinary Sciences, house cats still need a diet that primarily consists of meat, just like their ancestors did.
There are certain nutrients in meat that certain animals need, and can’t find anywhere else, such as:
- Taurine. This is an amino acid found almost exclusively in meat. Not all animals need it, but cats do.
- Arginine. This is another amino acid found in meat that cats need. Other animals synthesize it from another amino acid, but cats can’t.
- Niacin. Other animals make niacin from tryptophan, which is found in many foods. But cats can’t, so they need a source of niacin.
This doesn’t mean that cats can’t eat foods that lack these nutrients. Doing so isn’t a problem, so long as the cat gets these nutrients from other foods. Your cat could eat peanut butter as a snack, but not as a key part of its diet.
Do Cats Like Peanut Butter?
There’s no guarantee that your cat will enjoy eating peanut butter. However, many cats do enjoy the rich and flavorful texture. They lick at it in the same way that you would lick at ice cream. They will chew down on any chunks of peanut in the peanut butter, if there are any.
Peanut butter is high in fat, and cats enjoy high fat, high protein foods. All animals have this same attraction to nutrient-dense foods. This is because, in the wild, animals can go long periods without foods, and finding high-fat foods helps them survive longer.
But is it safe to give cats peanut butter? Just because a cat likes to eat a certain food doesn’t mean that it should.
Can Cats Eat Sugar-Free Peanut Butter? (Xylitol)
Sugar-free peanut butter is OK for cats. It’s no worse for your cat, and contains all the healthy ingredients that regular peanut butter does.
Cats need a mix of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. In sugar-free peanut butter, there are fewer carbs. That’s fine, because your cat won’t be getting all the carbs it needs either from sugar-free peanut butter.
However, the sugar-free variety of peanut butter contains sweeteners. Xylitol is a kind of sweetener that is known to be harmful to dogs.
According to the ASPCA, ingesting Xylitol isn’t toxic to cats. It doesn’t have the same blood sugar-lowering effect on felines.
You can find the latest research on how Xylitol affects cats in a study published by the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Are Cats Allergic to Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter isn’t dangerous for cats. It is made from nuts, but allergies to nuts aren’t commonly reported in cats. But not allergies can affect cats.
Cats can experience anaphylactic shock. Some owners report that their cats do have peanut butter allergies, and nut allergies generally.
So, why isn’t this issue more common if cats experience it? Well, cats rarely eat nuts. They don’t eat peanuts, and hardly any owners give their cats peanut butter. So, peanut allergies in cats are hardly ever reported.
That isn’t to say that your cat will definitely be allergic to peanuts. It’s highly unlikely, but it can be a problem for some cats.
What Are the Health Benefits of Peanut Butter for Cats?
Peanut butter contains lots of fat and protein. Because it contains so much fat, it’s also very high in calories. In small doses, that’s a good thing, because all animals need calories (energy) to survive and thrive.
Peanut butter also contains lots of vitamins and minerals. That’s because nuts are dense with different micronutrients. While peanut butter is processed, it’s still approximately the same as regular peanuts. The only issue is if it contains lots of added salt.
But despite it being fine for you to feed your cat peanut butter, that doesn’t mean that you should. It’s loaded with fat and protein, and while cats need both of these things, they shouldn’t eat them exclusively.
What does peanut butter do to cats? It makes them overweight. Any animal which eats far too much fat and protein will gain weight over time.
Peanut butter is exceptionally high in fat. It has some protein, and some carbs too, but it’s mostly fat. Of course, the precise amounts of each nutrient vary based on the brand.
Here’s a table detailing what generic peanut butter contains, with information taken from NutritionValue.org.
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Fat (and Saturated Fat)||50 (7.6g)|
|Carbohydrate (and Sugars)||22g (8.4g)|
Around 70% of peanut butter’s calories come from fat, while around 15% each come from carbs and proteins.
Cats do need each of these nutrients to survive, but not in these proportions. They need more protein, more carbohydrates, and less fat.
If you fed your cat lots of peanut butter, it could become fat/unhealthy. This wouldn’t be an issue if you want to feed peanut butter as a snack, though. It would only be an issue if you planned to feed it to your cat regularly.
Vitamins and Minerals
Peanut butter has lots of vitamins and minerals in it. These can all be found elsewhere, but they’re highly concentrated in peanut butter.
Here’s another table with data from NutritionValue.org, explaining which micronutrients generic peanut butter contains:
|Vitamin or Mineral||Amount per 100g|
It’s clear that peanut butter offers nutrients that cats need. Cats require copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
This alone doesn’t make peanut butter a suitable snack for cats. But it does at least mean that if you did feed your cat peanut butter, it wouldn’t just be eating empty calories.
Should You Feed a Cat Peanut Butter?
You shouldn’t feed your cat peanut butter. That’s because, at the same time as it contains too much fat, it doesn’t offer anything that your cat can’t get elsewhere in its diet. There’s also the chance that your cat could be allergic.
Peanut butter doesn’t contain anything that cats need and can’t find elsewhere. So, considering that and the fact that it’s so high in fat, you shouldn’t feed your cat peanut butter.
If you do, only feed peanut butter to cats in small amounts. Peanut butter in tiny portions won’t make your cat sick or overweight. A portion of one teaspoon every week won’t make your cat fat. And a small amount is less likely to trigger a severe anaphylactic shock.