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Can Cats Eat Pine Nuts? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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	Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are a lot of safe and unsafe human foods out there that you could potentially feed your cat. Foods like nuts are notorious for their health benefits. Pine nuts, in particular, are great for boosting energy levels and keeping skin healthy. So, while pine nuts are great for humans, are they healthy for cats?

While pine nuts are not considered toxic for cats, too much isn’t good for them. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about cats and pine nuts.

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All About Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are a teardrop-shaped seed that is often used in cooking pesto. They come from pine trees and measure around half an inch in length. They have a buttery and somewhat sweet flavor when raw, though they are often toasted, which brings out the flavors even more.

pine nuts in a while bowl
Image Credit: Waldrebell, Pixabay

Can Cats Eat Pine Nuts?

As we alluded to in our introductions, most cats can eat pine nuts without any problems. They are non-toxic and, in small amounts, shouldn’t cause any harm to your cat.

We do recommend offering them in moderation, however, as, with most nuts, pine nuts are high in fat. Since your cat’s digestive tract isn’t designed to handle a large amount of fat, too many pine nuts can cause gastrointestinal upset in your kitty, such as diarrhea and vomiting.

Pine nuts are also very small, which can pose a choking hazard for your cat. Seeing as cats don’t chew their food as their teeth are designed for tearing bite-sized pieces from their prey, your kitty won’t be able to chew the pine nuts so they’ll swallow it whole.

So, while pine nuts won’t harm your cat, they aren’t the best snack option. There are plenty of other cat-friendly human foods you can offer your pet if they’re interested in what you’re eating.

Can Cats Be Allergic to Nuts?

Around three million Americans have a nut allergy of some kind. With numbers that high, it must be true that animals can also have nut allergies, right?

While most allergies in cats are due to protein like beef, fish, chicken, and dairy, it’s not unheard of for cats to be allergic to nuts, too.

Other symptoms to be on the lookout for include:
  • rash
  • hot spots
  • runny eyes
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • hair loss
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty breathing

Just as with humans and nut allergies, even a small number of nuts can cause an allergic reaction.

Image Credit: Julia Cherk, Shutterstock

My Cat Loves Pine Nuts. Can He Eat a Lot of Them?

As we’ve mentioned, a few pine nuts on occasion should be fine for most cats. If your kitty has gotten into your nut stash, however, they could be doing more harm than good.

The main concern with nuts of any kind is the high fat content. Kitties that get a lot of fat in their diet can wind up developing hyperlipidemia or pancreatitis.

Hyperlipidemia occurs when there is an excessive amount of fat or fatty substances in your cat’s blood. If your vet determines that your kitty does have hyperlipidemia, he will likely prescribe a low-fat and high-fiber diet through prescription foods. A diet change should lead to a reduction in symptoms associated with this condition.

Pancreatitis occurs when your cat’s pancreas becomes inflamed. When this happens, other organs like the liver and intestines can also become inflamed. Pancreatitis management will depend on the severity and how soon it was diagnosed.

What Should I Do If My Cat Ate Pine Nuts?

If you know that your cat has gotten into your pine nuts, your first job should be to determine how much they ate. One or two nuts shouldn’t affect your kitty much, but if they’ve eaten a lot, you will want to watch your kitty for symptoms. You may notice that they’re experiencing gastrointestinal upset in the form of diarrhea, vomiting, or even dehydration.

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should give your vet a call. While it is unlikely that your kitty will experience any serious side effects from eating one or two pine nuts, they may have issues if they’ve eaten a lot or if they have a nut allergy.

Your vet can provide insight into what your next steps may be. He may suggest you monitor your cat at home to see if the symptoms go away on their own or to keep an eye out for signs of dehydration.

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What About Other Nuts? Are They Okay for Cats?

There are other nuts your cat can eat, but remember, too many nuts too often can be bad for them due to their high-fat content. It’s best to not offer them nuts at all if you can help it. If they do happen to chow down on some of your nuts, though, it’s important to know which are safe and which would be a cause for concern.

American shorthair cat eating at home
Image Credit: Apicha Bas, Shutterstock

Safe Nuts for Cats

Unsafe Nuts for Cats

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Final Thoughts

It is unlikely that pine nuts would cause any significant harm to your kitty (provided they’re not allergic to them), but there are many other healthy treats you should offer them in place of high-fat nuts.

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Featured Image Credit: sunnysun0804, Pixabay