Of the many questions asked about cats’ diets, one that keeps coming up is: Can cats eat almonds? There is significant confusion about this topic because the not-so-simple answer is: Yes and no. It depends on the type of almond, but there are too many health concerns with cats eating sweet almonds, so it’s best to steer clear of them.
So, to set the record straight, we’ve done the research, and in this article, we tell you everything that you could ever want to know on the topic.
Before changing your cat’s diet or introducing new ingredients or supplements that they haven’t eaten before, especially when it comes to human food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. Every cat is different and requires an individual approach to nutrition, depending on their age, health, level of activity, and medical history. The guidelines offered in our article have been fact-checked and approved by a veterinarian but should be used as a mere guide on food safety, rather than an individual nutrition plan.
It’s All About The Variety
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), much of the confusion about cats and almonds is because there are two different varieties of almonds: sweet almonds and bitter almonds.1 Many people aren’t aware of the difference between the two.
Sweet almonds are the types sold in shops for human consumption, and they are non-toxic to cats. Cats can eat sweet almonds.
However, just because they can eat them, that doesn’t mean they should. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they have evolved over the centuries to require meat to survive. They don’t need plant-based food, and in fact, their digestive systems don’t cope well with it. Thus, while cats can eat sweet almonds, there is absolutely no reason to feed them to your cat.
Although not toxic, they are not suitable for cats due to their size. The size and shape of an almond can easily lead to choking in cats or may lead to a gastrointestinal blockage if fully ingested. Both need urgent veterinary attention.
Bitter almonds are entirely different varieties of almonds. They are not generally sold in the United States, although you may find them in specialty natural food stores. They should be clearly marked as being bitter because in their raw state, bitter almonds are highly toxic. Cats cannot eat bitter almonds.
Bitter almonds contain traces of hydrocyanic acid, a solution of hydrogen cyanide and water, the by-product of which is an organic form of the poison cyanide. As few as seven to 10 bitter almonds can kill a human child, and as few as a dozen can be enough to kill a healthy adult; there is no safe number of bitter almonds that a cat can eat.
If you suspect that your cat has consumed even the smallest amount of bitter almonds, you should seek advice from a veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center immediately.
What About Almond Milk?
Almond milk is produced from sweet almonds. As such, cats can drink almond milk in moderation and only occasionally.
While adult cats can drink almond milk, and many lactose-intolerant kittens are fed almond milk as an alternative to cow’s milk, some cats have difficulty digesting it. If you have a lactose-intolerant kitten, you may be better off feeding your kitten a commercial cat milk formula.
Can My Cat Have Almond Butter?
Like almond milk, almond butter is produced from sweet almonds. Thus, cats can eat a very small amount of almond butter. However, much like sweet almonds themselves, almond butter has little nutritional value for a cat, and there is no real reason that you should want to feed it to your pet.
Featured Image Credit: Steve Buissinne, Pixabay