Can Cats Eat Nuts

Can Cats Eat Nuts?

Squirrels love nuts. They’re also popular with people as a healthy, natural food.

But can cats eat nuts? Let’s find out.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Cats and Nuts – What You Need to Know
  • Can Cats Eat Nuts?
  • Can Kittens Eat Nuts?
  • Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Nuts
  • Alternatives to Nuts for Cats

Cats and Nuts – What You Need to Know

A nut is a fruit with a hard, inedible shell on the outside, and a seed on the inside. Examples of true nuts include hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns.

Many of the “nuts” people are familiar with such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios, aren’t technically nuts. However, in this article, we will discuss  both botanical and culinary nuts together as one group, because of their similarities as a food item.

Most cats will have no interest in eating nuts because of their hardness. However, as the following video shows, some do seem to enjoy nuts as more than just a toy to bat around:

Can Cats Eat Nuts?

Yes, cats can eat most nuts in very small amounts. However, under certain circumstances, some nuts can cause your cat to experience health problems.

Almonds and pistachios are just two examples of nuts that can contain toxins that might make your kitty sick.

Some almonds contain cyanide which could poison your cat. The highest levels of cyanide are found in bitter almonds and bitter almond oil and syrups.

Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bright red gums
  • Shock
  • Death

Additionally, Pistachios can harbor a species of fungus called Aspergillus. This fungus produces a toxin which can cause your cat to develop aflatoxin toxicosis.

Aflatoxins can make a pet very sick or even kill them.

Symptoms of aflatoxin toxicosis include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea or black-tarry stool
  • Yellow mucous membranes
  • Seizures

If your cat has eaten pistachios, bitter almonds, or bitter almond oil, and is showing signs of poisoning, contact poison control and take them to your vet immediately!

Even though problems with eating nuts are very rare, why take a chance on your cat’s health?

As the following video shows, nuts can sometimes cause extreme disobedience in cats! Fortunately, disobedience doesn’t require a trip to the vet.

Can Kittens Eat Nuts?

Kittens tend to be even more sensitive to things than adult cats because kittens are tiny and their bodies have not yet fully developed. For this reason, kittens should never be given nuts.

Any toxin that could affect an adult cat would likely make a kitten extremely sick.

Additionally, nuts present a choking hazard. Kittens do not have as much experience with different food items and may try to swallow the nut whole or even attempt to eat the shell.

It is simply too dangerous to give kittens nuts.

Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Nuts

Generally, nuts are not likely to be harmful to your adult cat. However, since cats derive the vast majority of their nutrition from eating meat, there is very little benefit for cats to eat nuts.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means cats are actually very poor at deriving nutrition from foods that aren’t meat.

Because a cat’s digestive systems is different from ours, they process foods in different ways.

For example, most nuts are high in dietary fiber and fats. If your cat gets too much fiber, they could have indigestion and loose stools.

Cats also don’t need to worry as much about the types of fat they eat because they process fat differently than humans. Cats can enjoy a diet proportionately higher in lipids, including saturated fats, without any negative effects.

The main problem with cats eating a high-fat diet is they could become overweight.

Alternatives to Nuts for Cats

If your cat does seem infatuated with nuts, how about giving them a cat food that looks like nuts, but is healthy for them? You can also give them these green treats that your cat is sure to love.

So, Can Cats Eat Nuts?

Your adult cat is probably fine to eat nuts from time to time. However, many cats will just bat the nuts around like a toy.

But, if you have a cat that’s nuts for nuts, here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Buy a nut-shaped cat food or some healthy green cat treats in place of real nuts. There is a good chance they won’t even know the difference.
  2. Keep your nuts in a closed drawer or cabinet.
  3. If you do feed your cat nuts, make sure to only give them a small amount occasionally.

If you have any questions or would like to share a story about your cat and a healthy snack they really enjoy, please tell us in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

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Phil R.

Phil’s lifelong love of animals began as a young boy growing up with three pet dogs. As a teenager and young adult, Phil spent six years working as a veterinary technician, later earning a B.S. in Animal Science. After college, Phil continued working as a vet tech part-time while caring for a private collection of mountain lions used in wildlife educational programs. During this time, Phil volunteered at the Dallas Zoo and was eventually offered a position as a zookeeper in the zoo’s naturalistic Wilds of Africa area. Phil became the primary keeper for a black leopard named “Grady” and a caracal named “Tut” in the predator/prey exhibit.

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