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Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

The sweet and salty treat is OK in moderation

by Jodi Helmer
28 December 2023
A woman eating peanut butter toast with her cat laying on the table
Thais Varela / Stocksy

You slather it on toast, add it to smoothies and use it as the main ingredient in homemade dog treats. Your feline friend might like a sweet spoonful, too. 

Is peanut butter good for cats?

Peanut butter is packed with protein (and tastes great) and is often added to treats or used to hide medications, according to Dr Maryanne Murphy, clinical assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee. “Cats do fine with peanut butter,” she says. 

So, why shouldn’t cats eat peanut butter?

Peanut butter is safe for some cats but there are still several good reasons to find another go-to treat for your feline friends.

  1. The oil and fat that give peanut butter its flavour are high in calories and could cause them to pack on the pounds; for this reason, it’s best to limit quantities, but “a small amount to give a cat medication or a little treat is just fine,” Dr Murphy says.

  2. Peanut butter also contains a lot of salt. Too much sodium could lead to vomiting, diarrhoea or excessive thirst and, in severe cases, heart disease. 

  3. Peanut butter may be a choking hazard due to its thick consistency.

  4. Some cats have nut allergies, including allergies to peanuts. It’s rare but it’s also possible and, in severe cases, it can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

  5. Peanut butter can contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol that is toxic to dogs. “A detrimental link in cats has not been shown,” Dr Murphy says. “Out of an abundance of caution, I would still recommend against using a xylitol-containing product with cats, and would still call your vet if your cat consumes peanut butter that contains xylitol.”

How to add peanut butter to your cat’s diet

You can hide pills in a small glob of peanut butter, offer a few licks off of the spoon, or use it as a sweet and salty ingredient in homemade treats.

Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer is a North Carolina-based freelance writer who shares her home with an embarrassing number of rescue dogs and relies on four feral cats to patrol the barn. When she isn’t refilling food and water dishes, Jodi writes about animals for Scientific American, Sierra, WebMD, AKC Family Dog, Living the Country Life, and Out Here.

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