Peanut butter is a popular treat given to dogs to hide medication, as a treat or reward. But can cats eat peanut butter and is it safe? Cats can eat peanut butter but should only be given in small quantities but most cats don’t find it as appealing as their canine counterparts. If you do have a cat who likes peanut butter, a small amount won’t do him or her any harm, but it should only be given in very limited quantities.
Peanut butter has very little nutritional value to cats and is high in empty calories, therefore there is no benefit to feeding cats peanut butter. Some pet owners may choose to use peanut butter as a way to hide pills or as a reward. Cats are obligate carnivores and are unable to synthesise specific vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids and must obtain them in their pre-formed state from the meat and organs they consume, which makes the carnivore diet a biological necessity.
Nutrients in peanut butter
The US Department of Agriculture lists the following nutrients per 100g in peanut butter:
- Calories: 594
- Protein: 21.88 g
- Total lipid (fat): 50 g
- Fibre: 6.2 g
- Iron: 2.25 mg
- Sodium: 1.56 mg
- Fatty acids (total saturated): 7.81 g
Can all cats have peanut butter?
Not all cats can have peanut butter, even in small quantities. This includes:
- Unweaned kittens
- Cats with a known hypersensitivity to nuts or peanut butter
- Cats on a weight-loss diet
- Cats on a prescription diet to manage or treat a medical condition
- Cats on a hypoallergenic diet
Always check the ingredients panel and avoid brands which contain xylitol, a sugar alcohol which is used as a sweetener in sugar-free products. Xylitol stimulates the release of insulin which leads to dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), some dogs may also develop severe hepatic (liver) insufficiency.
Alternatives to peanut butter
Treats and rewards can be an effective way to hide pills or as a positive reward, and there are several cat-safe alternatives to peanut butter.
- Cheddar cheese (most cats are lactose intolerant but cheese only contains a minimal amount which should not cause stomach upset in cats)
- Fruit (blueberries, apple, raspberries, melon, banana)
- Tinned tuna
- Plain yoghurt
- Cooked eggs
- Poached chicken or turkey breast
Treats should not make up more than 10% of a cat’s overall diet.