Peanuts are a regular staple in anyone’s pantry. It’s the most common nut in the human diet, and in fact, peanuts amount for more than ⅔ of all nut consumption in the US.
While you may occasionally munch on peanuts as a snack, or as an ingredient to salads and other dishes, they may not be the most ideal occasional treat for your feline friend.
But are they toxic to cats? Do they result in the same side effects in dogs, who are notoriously aversive to any kind of nut?
This article will help you understand, whether or not peanuts are good for cats, and if it’s fine to give them an occasional treat or not.
Can Cats Eat Peanuts?
The answer to this question is yes, cats can eat peanuts. But is it good for them? The answer is no. Peanuts, though contain protein and healthy fats, do not provide any nutritional value to cats.
As obligate carnivores, cats only get nutrition from meat (consider wet food). They need protein the most, and can only get it from fish or chicken. Any kind of food, whether it’s bread, or lettuce, or peanuts, do not provide them with any nutritional value.
What Happens When Cats Eat Peanuts?
An occasional treat will not do any harm to your cat. But, if your cat eats too much, they could suffer from gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Why? Because peanuts have an incredible high amount of fat. And cats do not digest fat well. When they can’t digest the fat from peanuts, they suffer from gas, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite and other digestive tract issues.
Peanuts may also contain salt and sugar, two ingredients that are found in commercial peanut products. Too much salt can lead to inflammation, which is especially dangerous for cats who are suffering from hypertension and heart disease. It could also aggravate kidney and pancreas problems.
Peanuts that contain sugar, especially those that are coated with a sweet shell, can increase your cat’s risk for obesity and diabetes, which also results in other health complications.
When you feed your cat peanuts, make sure it is raw and the husk is removed. The shell on the peanut can pose a choking hazard to your cat.
How About Peanut Butter? Can my Cat Eat Peanut Butter?
Yes, your cat can eat peanut butter as long as it’s in small quantities, such as a small teaspoon size, or if you feed them with peanut butter on your finger.
The problem with peanut butter is that it’s sticky and thick, and could get caught to your cat’s throat, which could lead to a choking hazard.
Most peanut butters also contain added ingredients, such as sugar and salt, and other spices. So make sure the peanut butter you feed your cat contains raw peanuts only and very little added ingredients.
Many peanut butter brands have also removed sugar from their ingredients and replaced it with xylitol, which is toxic to animals. When you purchase any brand of peanut butter, make sure to check the ingredients and that it does not contain any xylitol whatsoever.
How About Peanut Allergy? Are Cats Allergic to Peanuts?
There may be some cats who are allergic to peanuts. Here are some of the symptoms that you need to look out for to determine if your cat is allergic to peanuts:
- Frequent scratching of their skin
- Itchy, runny eyes
- Itchy back or base of tail
- Ear infections
- Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing after ingesting peanuts
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Snoring due to an inflamed throat
- Swollen paws
If you notice these symptoms in your cat after ingesting peanuts, call the vet or head to the emergency room immediately.
Can Cats Eat All Types of Nuts?
No, cats can’t eat all types of nuts. There are certain kinds of nuts that are toxic to cats. While there has been no reports or studies regarding cats and macadamia nuts, it is a well-known fact that these nuts are extremely toxic to dogs.
Macadamia nuts affect a dog’s nervous system, causes swollen limbs, gastrointestinal distress, and tremors. It’s best that you avoid feeding these nuts to your cats, just to be safe.
Walnuts also contain a lot of fat and salt, which can lead to health problems in cats when taken in large quantities, so avoid giving your cat walnuts and macadamia nuts altogether.
The Bottom Line
Peanuts are fine as an occasional treat for your kitty, but since they don’t have nutritional value for your cat, and the risk for peanut allergy is present, if you can, feeding it to your cat must be avoided.
However, if your cat has taken a liking to peanuts or peanut butter, an occasional treat won’t hurt. Just make sure it doesn't contain too much sugar, it doesn’t have any xylitol at all, and that they’re made of raw peanuts.