Pet Consider

Can Cats Eat Nutella?

Can I Give My Cat Nutella?

To many people, Nutella has become its own food group. Though not as versatile as many other (less exciting) nut butters, there are still plenty of delicious options. We bake this creamy treat into pies, cakes, cookies, muffins, and brownies. We smear it onto slices of toast, bananas, apples, and strawberries. We use it as a dip for fruits, cookies, crackers, and even pretzels. Though it isn’t always easy to fit this sweet spread into savory dishes, those who truly love Nutella often find a way to eat it several times a week. Something about the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts is utterly irresistible.

Nutella is a lovely, decadent treat for us and our families, but can we use it as a pet treat, too? Can cats have Nutella?

The answer is no, cats cannot eat Nutella. Pet owners love their furry children, but sharing chocolate with them is not a good way to express that love—chocolate contains theobromine, which is extremely poisonous to cats. In high enough doses, it may even be lethal. Even if your cat doesn’t ingest enough Nutella to result in theobromine poisoning, their health may suffer in the long term due to the sugar and dairy in this dessert spread.

Health Benefits?

NutellaIf you haven’t read the back of your Nutella jar, you may be surprised to learn that Nutella offers almost none of the health benefits of many other nut butters. Their ads seem to imply that Nutella is a fantastic source of nutrition, but unfortunately, this just isn’t true.

Hazelnuts are a relatively healthy food for humans. Some would even go far enough to suggest that whole, unprocessed hazelnuts may be good for cats in small amounts— they contain large amounts of B vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, flavonoids, and Vitamin E. Nutella, on the other hand, is about as far as you can get from whole, unprocessed hazelnuts. The main ingredients in this sweet spread are palm oil, sugar, whey (a dairy protein) and milk powder. None of these ingredients are very good for you, and they may be even worse for your cat.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they have spent the last several million years learning how to eat one food almost exclusively: the flesh of prey animals. Because they have developed such a specialized diet, they have different dietary needs than we do. All of their dietary needs are substances that exist in meat in high amounts. They do not need large amounts of carbohydrates like we do, and as a result, they do not process sugar nearly as well as we do.

Nutella is loaded with sugar. A single serving of Nutella can pack in up to 21 grams of pure table sugar, which is far more than a cat is supposed to eat in an entire day. All that unnecessary sugar (and the unnecessary calories!) can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and weight gain, which may lead to obesity. Obesity, in turn, can lead to heart disease, osteoarthritis, and several forms of cancer. Yikes.

If that wasn’t bad enough, sugar can also rot your cat’s teeth. Eating sugary foods can contribute to cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. Aside from being painful, oral infections can also devastate your cat’s health—bacterial infections in the mouth can easily ‘leak’ into the bloodstream, spread throughout the body, and infect other organs. If the situation is left untreated long enough, it may lead to organ failure. The best way to keep your cat’s mouth healthy is to avoid feeding them junk food.

But of course, the biggest reason to avoid feeding your cat Nutella is the poisoning risk. This chocolaty spread contains theobromine, which can result in severe medical complications. If your cat consumes too much chocolate, they may exhibit symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, labored or rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, a drop in blood pressure, fever, stiff muscles, seizures, extreme fatigue, and physical weakness.

Things to Consider

Left untreated, chocolate poisoning can cause your cat to lapse into a coma and die. If your cat eats Nutella and starts showing any of these symptoms, take them to the vet as soon as possible. As with all forms of poisoning, your cat’s prognosis improves the sooner you take them in for treatment.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to Nutella and other chocolate-flavored treats, the best policy for cats is complete abstinence. Even without all of the unhealthy sugar and processed vegetable oil, Nutella is bad news for cats. It is high in calories and sugar, which can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, cancer, dental problems, and a range of other illnesses. It also contains a fair amount of chocolate, which is highly toxic to cats. While some human treats can safely be given to cats in moderation, nutritionally empty Nutella is not one of them.


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