April 27, 2020

Can Hamsters Eat Peanut Butter?

Know the Risks

Published by Sheila Wilson

Vet Approved

Nothing is more satisfying than delectable, delightful, creamy, satisfying…you guessed it... peanut butter! With so many various ways of eating peanut butter, we humans have a way to get in that additional protein pretty easily!

Peanut butter is an excellent source of healthy fats with many wonderful benefits for us, but are they equally as good for our feline friends? Let's delve deeper into the topic and see exactly how it could affect your pet cat.

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

No, cats cannot eat peanut butter. While peanut butter is not toxic to cats, it should not be fed as a treat because it has little nutritional value, it poses a choking hazard, and it may cause gastrointestinal upsets. If your cat wants to have a taste, follow our vet-approved feeding guidelines to minimize the health risks.

Although peanut butter is not considered toxic for cats, experts agree that it shouldn't be offered as a treat no matter how badly you would like to let your cat friend have a try.

Peanut butter should be avoided for general health reasons. 

Research indicates you should avoid peanut butter and perhaps consider a healthier alternative. You can experiment with vegetable treats instead of nuts. Most certainly, vegetables offer great nutrients as part of a balanced meal.

Cats are still carnivorous by nature and prefer routines. Once-off treats should be reserved for rare and special occasions, or not-so-healthy foods like peanut butter may replace else essential nutrients from high-quality complete cat food.

Perhaps cats can eat peanut butter, but it doesn't mean that they should.

Health Benefits: Is Peanut Butter Good for Cats?

Let's get straight to the point. Peanut butter provides absolutely no health benefit for your furry feline friend. Nutrients contained in animal tissues are what your cat relies upon to meet their particular and unique nutritional requirements.

Cats require certain amino acids that are not present in the plant-sourced protein. Peanuts do not contain taurine, arginine, methionine, and cysteine.

Plant-based proteins such as peanut butter differ from meat-based proteins due to the amino acid profile. The differences are critical for cats. Metabolizing plant-based foods is not that simple for a cat, as they have lost some metabolic pathways that would allow them to do so.

You'll be doing your cat a massive disservice by feeding them plant-sourced protein as it can create deficiencies.

Related reading: How to choose the best cat food

Bowl of peanut butter on table

Let's have a look at the amino acids required by cats in a bit more detail:

Taurine

Cats need taurine because they cannot synthesize it from its forerunner's methionine and cysteine. Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats as it prevents them from suffering from poor vision or blindness.

In addition, it is also critical for heart muscle function, maintaining a healthy pregnancy and fetal development, and for the maintenance of a healthy immune system. Taurine is not found in plant-based proteins and is especially undetectable in peanuts; it is only found in meat-based proteins.

Arginine

An abundance of arginine is found in the tissue of cat prey and deficient in sources of plant origin – and is another unique requirement for cats. Arginine is essential for cats being that it removes ammonia (a waste product of protein breakdown) from the body.  

In the event that ammonia is not removed, cats could experience weight loss, vomiting, neurological abnormalities, coma, and even death.

Methionine and Cysteine

Methionine is a highly vital energy source for cats, while cysteine is required for converting to important antioxidants and free radical "hunters," as well as producing felinine, which is essential in territorial marking.

Even when limited sources of protein are available in the diet, cats utilize protein to maintain blood glucose levels adequately. Plant-source proteins fed to cats may very well result in deficiencies being developed. Poor growth in kittens or skin issues such as crusting in adult cats can be viewed as signs of deficiencies.

Tyrosine 

To ensure a complete diet and proper nutrition for cats, tyrosine is another essential amino acid they require. The synthesis and homeostasis of melanin (the dark hair and skin pigment) require tyrosine as it plays an important role in the process.

Cats deficient in tyrosine are commonly observed in black cats whose hair becomes reddish-brown. Diets high in animal-source proteins increase tyrosine levels to reverse deficiencies.

Amino acids in peanut butter, a plant-source protein is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of your cat the way animal proteins do.

So, as you can gather, peanut butter is not a good choice of snack for your cat. The amino acids above are deemed essential, and therefore plant-based proteins should be avoided when it comes to cats.

Health Risks: Is Peanut Butter Bad for Cats?

Insubstantial Nutritional Value

As previously noted above, peanut butter is not nutritious for cats. Cats are carnivorous beings whose diet primarily consists of a well-balanced variety of meats and fish.

The vitamins and minerals required for a cat's body are not present in peanut butter, and casually feeding peanut butter to your cat proves to be of no health benefit and, instead, could be detrimental to their health. 

It is good to note that in small amounts, peanut butter is not considered toxic for cats, according to the list published by ASPCA. So if your cat finds this delicious treat on the table and has a taste, there is no need to panic. However, there are better and healthier snacks you can treat your cat to.

Potentially Causes Choking

Because peanut butter is really thick and sticky in texture, it could get caught in your cat's throat. A large dollop of peanut butter ingested by your cat could result in vomiting and diarrhea. On the other hand, even a small amount of peanut butter could prove to be dangerous to your pet friend and pose a potential choking hazard.

Choosing to provide your cat with a little spoonful of peanut butter requires you to monitor them closely while they are joyfully licking away. They should absolutely never be left to their own with a spoonful of tacky peanut butter!

Allergies to Peanut Butter

An unknown peanut allergy in your cat can lead to a life-threating situation that can be avoided by steering clear of the sticky substance, which is so delightful to mankind.

Allergic reactions to peanut can be severe in cats, and owners should act quickly if they notice any clinical signs of allergies.

Common symptoms of allergies include itching, skin irritations, chronic ear infections, loss of hair, diarrhea, vomiting, appetite loss, and weight loss but may be reversed if cat owners respond immediately.

More importantly, veterinary help should be sought in emergencies.

May Cause Gastrointestinal Upset

Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and gas, yes, your cat friend may suffer from all of these gastrointestinal upsets from the consumption of peanut butter. The taste of peanut butter is most definitely not worth all the discomfort.

Contains Harmful Fats

Sadly, trans fatty acids, an unhealthy food substance is a result of a process designed to guarantee your peanut butter long shelf life.

Peanut butter made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil contains a small amount of fatty acids and should be avoided where possible.

Aflatoxins Are Present in Peanut Butter

Aflatoxin, a type of mycotoxin, is a toxin occurring naturally in peanuts and is produced by the mold that colonizes peanuts underground.

Mycotoxins are unfortunately renowned for being one of the most cancerous matters found on the planet, causing liver toxicity and could result in potential liver cancer.

The USDA is mandated to monitor the foods which may contain aflatoxins, while also ensuring that they remain below the recommended limit.

Feeding Guidelines

If you're going to feed your cat peanut butter, then please note that cats should be limited to pinches of peanut butter, if at all.

  • At most, you may indulge your cat with half a spoon twice per week.
  • Cat owners should also be sure to offer a drink of water to help them wash down the sticky substance.
  • It should be reiterated that cats should be monitored at all times and not be left alone, snacking away on peanut butter.

It is really in the best interest of your pet not to risk their overall health, and cat owners should try and opt for premium treats instead as they are specifically designed for cats.

Nutrition Facts

Peanut butter boosts the shimmering appearance of your cat's coat due to the vitamin H and biotin content, which also enhances cat skin and nails.

It is important to note that while these little beneficial values are present, peanut butter does not offer any exceptional nutritional value for cats, and excessive fat and salt content overtake these minuscule beneficial values.

Peanut butter also contains vitamin A which is known to strengthen the immune system and safeguard your cat from diseases.

You can also protect your cat from the risk of heart disease due to the vitamin E & resveratrol components contained in sticky, pasty peanut butter.

Bottom line: Can Cats Have Peanut Butter?

As thrilling as it may seem to let your furry cat friend have a little taste of peanut butter, you should skip this treat and opt for healthier ones.

Although you may love this creamy delight, as a responsible pet parent it is your job to offer your feline friend healthy and nutritious food.

Cats and Peanut Butter - FAQ

Can cats eat peanut butter cookies?

Yes, cats can eat peanut butter cookies because there is nothing toxic in them, but they should definitely be avoided for health reasons. Peanut butter cookies have too much sugar in them and no real nutritional value for cats. Giving your pet too many sugary treats like peanut butter cookies may lead to obesity and diabetes.

Vet's Comment

If you do give your cat peanut butter, make sure that it does not contain xylitol. This is an artificial sweetener that can cause a major release of insulin in your cat's body. This will drastically drop their blood sugar to very dangerous levels.

Many times, mixing your cat's medication with peanut butter is a good idea, especially if they find it tasty. Some cats, however, hate the stickiness of peanut butter and do not like it as a treat.

- Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

Sara Redding Ochoa Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Vet-Approved by
Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa

DVM

Sara Redding Ochoa, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, was raised in Calhoun, LA. She knew since she was a little girl that her dream was to become a veterinarian. Dr. Ochoa attended Louisiana Tech for her undergraduate school, and then attended St. George University to complete veterinary school. After graduating, Dr. Ochoa moved to east Texas and has been working as a small animal and exotic veterinarian.

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by FeedingMyPet.com is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your cat's specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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