Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Ah, peanut butter. 

This delicacy is the favorite snack of many people across the world, and it’s no surprise why: it’s delicious, nutritious, and can be used in so many ways.

But, did you know that peanut butter can also pose a serious danger to your cat if he or she eats too much? The truth is, there are some ingredients in this product that can be very unhealthy for smaller pets, like cats.

So, what exactly should you do if your kitty gets into trouble with peanut butter? What are the potential dangers?

Read on to find out.

The Ingredients In Peanut Butter

There are so many types of peanut butter out there: smooth, crunchy, organic, natural, and more. The ingredients involved mainly remain the same, but some brands may have a few extra things added to their recipes.

Here are the main ingredients used in most commercial brands of peanut butter:

  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil

Depending on the brand, there may be a few extra additives that you will see listed on the label as well. These may be added to increase flavor, add coloring, or even to extend the shelf life of the product.

Some peanut butter brands are sweeter than others, so these are more likely to contain extra sugar and syrups. Others may contain extra salt.

Some manufacturers will also use artificial flavors or colors to make their products look more appealing.

The main ingredient used in peanut butter is, of course, peanuts: without this ingredient, there would be no peanut butter!

The peanuts are roasted before being ground up, mixed with other ingredients, and then pressed into jars for storage.

Peanuts are one of the healthiest foods available, containing vitamins A and E, folate, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

They are also low in calories (only about 100 per tablespoon), making them an excellent snack food.

Salt and sugar are not the healthiest ingredients to put in your body, especially when consumed in large quantities.

Salt can cause water retention and high blood pressure, while sugar contributes to tooth decay and obesity. However, both of these ingredients are necessary to help preserve the taste of peanut butter.

Lastly, vegetable oil – or, sometimes, palm oil – is used to keep the peanut butter from separating during storage. This prevents clumping, and helps maintain its ability to easily spread.

Which Of These Ingredients Are Harmful To Cats?

Before we look at peanut butter as a whole, confirming whether it is safe for cats to eat or not, let’s look at the individual ingredients.

Foremost, plain peanuts are safe for cats to consume. In fact, they can actually be beneficial to them: peanuts are rich in vitamin B6, which is important for proper digestion and metabolism.

Vitamin B6 is also essential for maintaining normal nerve function, helping prevent seizures, and supporting the immune system.

However, salted peanuts may cause problems for cats if eaten in excess. In fact, cats should avoid eating too much salt in general.

An excessive sodium intake can contribute to kidney disease and heart failure, among other conditions.

Salt is one of the ingredients involved in the creation of peanut butter, and some brands use more salt than others.

The peanut butter brand with the highest sodium content is Skippy, with over 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.

Other popular brands, including Jif, Peter Pan, and Smucker’s Natural Choice, also contain large amounts of sodium.

Sugar can also be harmful to your cat in large quantities. Sugar feeds bacteria and yeast, causing gas and bloating. It can also lead to tooth decay and weight gain. If your cat eats too many sweets, he may develop diabetes.

Natural peanut butter will contain natural sugars, but most commercial brands have added sugars to improve the flavor. Many brands add corn syrup, molasses, honey, or even brown sugar.

Some use a sweetener called xylitol, which is derived from birch trees. Xylitol has been shown to be toxic when consumed by cats, dogs, and other animals in large quantities.

Finally, vegetable oils are often used to make peanut butter smooth and creamy. When consumed by a cat, this ingredient could potentially cause stomach discomfort.

Which may be followed by vomiting. Vegetable oil is not toxic for cats to eat, but it can make them feel ill if too much has been consumed.

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Providing your cat only eats a limited amount of peanut butter, you shouldn’t need to worry about him becoming sick. 

Yes, there are some potentially harmful ingredients in this product, but providing you don’t feed your cat large amounts of peanut butter every single day, there shouldn’t be an issue.

The same rules apply to humans: if we were to eat peanut butter every day, we would also become ill! 

Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and vitamins, but the sodium and sugar content can pose a problem if consumed too frequently. 

Here are some other risks that could potentially cause harm to your cat while eating peanut butter.

Weight Gain

Due to the high contents of fat, oil, sodium, and sugar, there is a chance that your cat may gain weight if they are consuming peanut butter on a daily basis.

Obesity is a large health risk for cats, and can lead to diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, and several types of cancer.

Choking Hazards

Crunchy peanut butter contains small pieces of peanuts, creating a chunkier consistency. While this poses little to no risk to humans, it can create a risk of choking if consumed by cats.

Even if your cat is eating smooth peanut butter, the texture is so thick and dry that it could still get stuck in their throat, creating a choking hazard.

Possible Allergic Reactions

Did you know that cats can also suffer from nut allergies, just like us humans? Signs of nut allergies in cats include itching and vomiting.

So you should keep an eye out for these symptoms if your pet has eaten some peanut butter. If spotted, you should contact your veterinarian immediately, as this could be life-threatening.

Final Thoughts

So, can cats eat peanut butter?

Perhaps the better question would be, ‘should cats eat peanut butter?’

The answer to the latter question would be, ‘no’. There are little to no nutritional benefits that a cat can gain from peanut butter, therefore, there’s no reason why they should consume it at all.

However, there are many reasons why cats should avoid consuming it.

By feeding your cat peanut butter, you will be putting them at risk of obesity, choking, and possible allergic reactions.

Too much sodium and sugar consumption can also harm your cat, and both ingredients are included in the manufacturing of peanut butter.

In small amounts, peanut butter will not harm your pet. It is recommended that a cat should eat no more than half a teaspoon every two weeks.

But if you find that your pet has eaten more than this, you should keep an eye on their behaviors and symptoms.

The likelihood is that they will be fine, but in the case that they react badly, you should contact your veterinarian right away. 

In summary, beware of the risks that come with feeding your cat peanut butter. You would be best avoiding it altogether.

But if you must give it to your cat, make sure to monitor their behavior closely, and only provide them with small amounts.

Courtney Trent
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