Peanuts are a delicious, high-protein snack that people enjoy all over the world. They are available in snack packs with all kinds of spices and flavorings, making them ideal for on-the-go snacking that’s healthier than potato chips or candy.
As pet owners, we often want to share our snacks with our cats, but can cats eat peanuts? Are they healthy for them? Cats can safely eat peanuts, but there are some exceptions.
Peanuts for Cats
Cats can eat plain, unsalted peanuts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the peanut itself if it’s shelled and has no additional spices or flavoring.
That said, just because your cat can eat peanuts doesn’t mean it should eat peanuts. As a snack, peanuts have plenty of health benefits for humans, but those don’t extend to cats. As obligate carnivores, cats need animal protein sources, which doesn’t apply to peanuts.
Along with the possibility of an allergic reaction, cats can develop digestive upset from peanuts or obesity from the high caloric and fat content. This can lead to health problems in the future. Obese cats are at an increased risk for conditions like diabetes mellitus, heart disease, osteoarthritis, urinary bladder stones, and cancer.
Precautions with Feeding Peanuts to Cats
Peanuts shouldn’t be part of your cat’s diet, but if one falls on the floor and your cat snatches it up, it’s unlikely to cause any immediate problems.
Keep in mind that this applies to unsalted, shelled, roasted peanuts. Unfortunately, many peanuts for human consumption have additives, spices, and flavorings that could be toxic to cats.
Honey roasted, spiced, chocolate, or yogurt-coated peanuts should be avoided for your cat. Sugar isn’t ideal for cats and chocolate is toxic to them.
Another concern is peanuts with the shell. The shell of a peanut is hard for cats to digest and could cause an obstruction or even damage to their digestive tract, so it’s important to remove and discard any peanut shells before giving peanuts to your cat.
Health Benefits of Peanuts to Cats
So now that you know peanuts aren’t toxic to cats, you may be wondering if they have any health benefits. Despite their reputation as a healthy food for humans, peanuts have no health benefits for cats.
As mentioned, cats are obligate carnivores and need animal protein sources for optimal health. Peanuts don’t provide this type of protein or the optimal fats for cats and may even cause digestive upset.
If you choose to give your cat a peanut on occasion as a treat, know that it is only that: a treat. There’s no benefit to giving your cat a peanut. In fact, there are potential risks with the spices, additives, fat content, and possible allergy, making a peanut a less-than-ideal treat for your cat.
Peanuts aren’t toxic for cats, but they come with some risks if your cat eats them. Cats may be allergic to peanuts, they can experience GI upset, and they can even become a choking hazard. If possible, it’s best to choose more appropriate snacks for your cat, such as commercial cat treats.
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