Can Cats Have Peanuts?
Even though they are one of the most common allergens, peanuts are everywhere. They can be found in trail mixes, in baked goods, in savory sauces, in sandwiches, in dog treats, or simply roasted, salted and sold in baggies as a healthy snack for families on the go. Peanuts are a high-energy, convenient snack for kids, athletes, or health-conscious folks looking for a way to fuel their paperwork-heavy day jobs. For those of us without nut allergies, they are considered one of the healthiest fat sources out there (aside from avocados). Since they are in virtually everything we eat, sooner or later, every pet owner is faced with the same question: can you give your cat peanuts? Is it okay to toss your cat a couple roasted peanuts while you watch movies on the couch with your family?
When it comes to peanuts, most veterinarians agree that less is better—though they are not poisonous to your cat (like raisins or garlic), they are likely to do more harm than good, and therefore are not generally recommended for feline consumption. This should not be too much of a hassle anyway, because most cats are uninterested in eating foods containing peanuts anyway. While your dog may seek out peanuts with the passion of a cartoon circus elephant, your cat is unlikely to take interest in them unless you wave a couple right in front of their face.
Is there any evidence suggesting there is a benefit to supplementing your cat’s diet with peanuts? No, peanuts will not cause any measurable improvement in your cat’s health. That being said, this food is not totally without its positives—it is high in protein, Vitamin E, and biotin, yet low in carbohydrates.
Protein (which is the nutrient that peanuts are often praised for) is the most important macronutrient in your cat’s diet, but the protein found in peanuts is not well suited to your cat’s amino acid needs. Over millions of years of evolution, cats have adapted to eating meat almost exclusively. Animal proteins have a different amino acid balance than plant proteins like those found in peanuts, so if your cat is eating a lot of peanut butter, they may miss out on important amino acids like taurine. Your cat will not benefit much from eating peanut protein.
Vitamin E and biotin, on the other hand, are great for fur, skin, and connective tissue health. Peanuts also have a little bit of Vitamin A, which is best known for protecting eye health. Some report that cats who eat high amounts of these foods develop thicker, shinier coats and stronger, less brittle claws, but these reports are anecdotal, and there are more cat-friendly ways to get these nutrients. It is also worth noting that an excess of Vitamin A is actually very harmful for cats—this fat soluble vitamin can easily build up in the body and result in Vitamin A toxicosis.
Since cats are more suited to digesting protein than carbohydrates, a very small portion of peanuts may be easier on their stomach than a high-carbohydrate, starchy people food like bananas or potatoes. This high protein content does not, however, make peanuts a good option for your cat, because it comes with an extremely high fat content.
Things to Keep in Mind
Though cats are better equipped to digest fat than carbohydrates, they still are not suited to processing the large amounts of plant fats found in peanuts. This high fat content brings with it an extremely high amount of calories, which means that your cat is more likely to wind up overweight or obese. Obese cats, though cute, do not tend to do very well in the long term—they are significantly more at risk for diseases like heart disease, many types of cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. Even if you manage to balance your cat’s caloric intake, all that means is that your cat is taking in a bunch of high-fat, nutritionally empty calories in the form of peanuts, when they could instead ‘spend’ those calories on foods that contain all the vitamins and minerals their body needs.
More immediately, cats who eat too many peanuts often suffer from digestive problems. If your cat eats too many of these fatty treats, expect stomach pain, diarrhea, and possibly vomiting. To make matters worse, peanuts, especially if they are still in the shell, are a choking hazard. If you must feed your cat peanuts, make sure they have had their shells removed.
Overall, it is not a good idea to feed your cats peanuts. They are high in fat and calories, which put your cat at risk of growing overweight or obese. They are also relatively low in all the nutrients that your cat needs to be healthy, which makes them a complete waste of calories. If you insist on sharing a couple of peanuts with your cat, make sure they are unsalted, unflavored, and that they have been shelled.
Can cats eat other types of nuts? Find out by clicking below!
Cat Eating Peanuts Video: