Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Key takeaway

Peanut butter is generally safe for cats to eat in moderation and with approval from a vet. However, cats do not obtain any valuable nutrients from peanut butter and in many cases, the risks outweigh the benefits. Additionally, pet parents should be cautious of potentially dangerous additives in some peanut butter products.

Cats love treats as much as any other animal does. From freeze-dried meat sticks to a fresh slice of salmon, cats enjoy getting a tasty treat from time to time. And owners love showing their cat love through the form of treats. However, not all treats are best suited for cats, particularly certain human foods pet parents like to enjoy.

Although peanut butter is not technically toxic to cats, it does not provide them with any nutritional benefits and therefore, isn’t a recommended treat for your furry friend. Cats are naturally carnivores which means they get most of their nutrients from proteins such as meat and fish. Therefore, peanut butter would be an unnecessary addition to their diet and in some cases, could potentially cause health issues.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the question at hand: “can cats eat peanut butter?” and we’ll address some related FAQs. 

Benefits & Risks: Is Peanut Butter Safe For Cats?

Peanut butter is generally safe for cats to eat in moderation and with approval from a vet. However, as discussed, peanut butter doesn’t offer any nutritional benefits your cat doesn’t already get from their regular diet. 

Risks of feeding peanut butter to your cat

In addition to its lack of nutritional benefits for cats, peanut butter can also pose several risks to our feline friends, including: 1

  • Gastrointestinal upset: Peanut butter is not a food cats typically eat, and as such, some cats might not tolerate it well. If your cat eats peanut butter, watch for signs of gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and gas.
  • Choking hazard: As you know, peanut butter is thick and sticky. This consistency is even difficult for humans to break down, so it’s important to note that it can become a choking hazard for your cat.
  • Toxic additives: Many peanut butters contain additives to salt or sweeten peanut butter or even make it more shelf stable. Keep an eye out for xylitol and aflatoxins which are commonly added to peanut butter and can cause toxicity in cats.
  • Allergies: Just like humans, cats can have peanut allergies. In fact, they can develop food allergies to just about anything. Anytime you feed your cat something new, make sure to monitor them for signs of an allergic reaction (i.e. itchy or irritated skin, diarrhea, vomiting, swelling, and difficulty breathing).
  • High calorie: Peanut butter is a high calorie fatty snack which can lead to weight gain and in turn, a variety of health conditions, including diabetes.

Xylitol

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs and can cause issues in cats.2 The sweetener is commonly used in peanut butters and other sweetened human foods and even household goods like toothpaste and vitamins. While xylitol can cause fatal consequences for dogs, the ingredient is less harmful to cats. Still, it should be avoided in any household with pets.

How Much Peanut Butter Can A Cat Have?

When it comes to treats, the general recommendation is that they should not exceed 10% of your pet’s daily caloric intake. However, this may vary depending on the food and your pet’s general health. For example, cats that are struggling with weight gain should be more limited on treats, especially high fat and high calorie ones like peanut butter. 

Ultimately, if your cat likes peanut butter and if you have approval from your vet, you can give it to them as a treat sparingly. However, it’s probably a better idea to skip the peanut butter and opt for an alternative treat.  

Alternatives to peanut butter

What Are Some Alternatives To Peanut Butter?

If you’re looking for a yummy treat to share with your cat, there are plenty of alternatives to peanut butter. In fact, many human foods contain nutrients that may supplement your cat’s regular diet. As a reminder, treats should not exceed 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake.

Here are a few alternatives you can feed your cat instead of peanut butter: 

  • Salmon
  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Bananas
  • Oatmeal
  • Pumpkin
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Turkey

Remember, your cat should be getting the majority of their calories from their cat food, which is formulated to give them the nutrients they need. If you have questions about your cat’s diet, talk to a vet.

FAQs

What if my cat licks peanut butter?

Most likely nothing. If your cat tolerates peanut butter well and does not have an allergy to it, they should be just fine. Remember, the main drawbacks to feeding your cat peanut butter pertain to eating it frequently or in large quantities.

Always ask your vet before feeding your pet a new food when possible. If your cat accidentally eats peanut butter or another human food, monitor them carefully and contact your vet with any questions or concerns.

What kind of peanut butter can cats eat?

If you decide to occasionally feed your cat peanut butter in moderation, make sure to read the labels and avoid potentially harmful additives like xylitol, aflatoxins, and high salt and oil content. High-quality natural peanut butters are generally the better option when sharing peanut butter with your dog or cat.

Can cats eat peanuts?

Cats can eat raw, unsalted peanuts in moderation. Salt and oils are difficult for cats to digest and may lead to gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea or pancreatitis.

What human foods can cats eat?

As discussed, there are many alternative treats for cats — some of which you’ll find in your very own pantry or refrigerator! If you’re looking for a snack to share with your feline friend, consider the following options:

  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Apples
  • Spinach
  • Eggs

If you’re not sure what treats are best for your cat, reach out to their vet! Your cat’s veterinarian has a detailed scope of your cat’s health and can recommend the best treat options for their health and nutritional needs.

Female cat owner’s hand feeding cat a treat

Final Notes

Can cats eat peanut butter? In most cases, small doses of peanut butter are safe for your cat. However, pet parents should pay attention to potentially harmful additives such as xylitol, aflatoxins, and excess salt and oils. 

Is peanut butter good for cats? Not exactly. Your cat should be getting all of the nutrients they need in their cat food, so any of the potential nutrients found in peanut butter will be redundant. Plus, peanut butter is high in fat and calories which can actually spoil your cat’s appetite for their regular food and may contribute to weight gain. 

In conclusion, it’s best to skip the peanut butter and stick to your cat’s regular diet. As far as treats go, pet parents should prioritize treats that are made for cats. Alternatively, curious pet parents may offer their cats certain fruits and veggies in moderation. 

Above all, you want your cat to live a healthy and happy lifestyle, which all comes down to quality pet care. With Dutch, you can consult a vet from the comfort of home. Whether you have questions about cat nutrition or are concerned about your cat’s anxiety, our 100% licensed vets can help.

To learn why pet parents trust Dutch, register your pet with Dutch today.

References

  1. “Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter? the Ultimate Answer and Useful Tips.” Veterinarians.org, 9 Sept. 2022, https://www.veterinarians.org/can-cats-eat-peanut-butter/#.

  2. “Xylitol: The Sweetener That Is Not so Sweet for Pets.” ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/news/xylitol-sweetener-not-so-sweet-pets.