Nutrition

Can Cats Eat Peanuts? Are Peanuts Bad For Cats?

Peanuts are a favorite snack for many of us pet parents, and they're also a tasty ingredient in many other human foods like peanut butter, Asian dishes, salads, candy, cookies, pies, etc. It's tempting to share what you're eating with your cat to see if she likes it, but cats have very different nutritional needs from us humans and digest food in different ways than many other animals. So we'll help you with everything you need to know about cats and peanuts.

Sally Jones

Last Updated: July 7, 2022 | 3 min read

Can on a pile of peanuts

Are you worried because your cat ate a peanut you accidentally dropped on the floor? Are peanuts safe for cats to eat? Can cats be allergic to them as humans are? Find out in our article if your kitty can have peanuts.

Peanuts are a favorite snack for many of us pet parents, and they’re also a tasty ingredient in many other human foods like peanut butter, Asian dishes, salads, candy, cookies, pies, etc. It’s tempting to share what you’re eating with your cat to see if she likes it, but cats have very different nutritional needs from us humans and digest food in different ways than many other animals. So we’ll help you with everything you need to know about cats and peanuts.

Are Peanuts Safe For Cats?

Peanuts aren’t toxic for cats, so there’s no reason to worry if your cat has eaten one off the floor. (Although she’s more likely to bat it around like a toy!). But even if your kitty likes the taste of peanuts, that doesn’t mean they’re good for them. In fact, there’s no nutritional value in peanuts for your feline friend at all. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies are designed to get all the nutrients they need from animal protein.

What’s more, cats’ bodies don’t digest plants well. And contrary to their name, peanuts aren’t nuts; they’re legumes, a type of vegetable. With that said, a peanut treat on rare occasions isn’t going to cause your cat harm. But make sure you’re only giving your kitty plain, roasted peanuts.

When Are Peanuts Bad For Cats?

If you want to share peanuts with your cat, you should be aware of the health concerns regarding the type of peanut, how you serve them, and the frequency. If your cat eats peanuts or you’re wondering if you can add them as a snack, here’s the information you need to know.

Shells Are A Big No-No

First and foremost, never give your cat a shelled peanut. Peanut shells are extremely hard for cats to digest and could create severe gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Shells are also hard to chew, so they could pose a choking hazard.

Plain Peanuts Only

One salted peanut is unlikely to cause problems, but too much salt isn’t safe for cats. Cats can develop salt poisoning fairly easily — and they’re likely getting all of their daily salt needs with their cat food. Another word of warning — chocolate is toxic to cats, so avoid any peanuts with chocolate coating or any candy bars with chocolate and peanuts. Also, other seasonings or oils that could be in packaged peanuts aren’t healthy for cats. So, plain only is the way to go.

Risk Of GI Upset

While peanuts are high in protein and fat, which are important to a cat’s diet, these proteins and fats aren’t animal-based. Therefore, cats can have a difficult time digesting peanuts because their bodies are designed to digest only animal-based nutrients. That’s why peanuts can cause an upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting in many cats. If your cat has a sensitive stomach, you should avoid giving her peanuts.

Weight Gain

Since peanuts have no nutritional value for cats and they contain a high amount of fat, regularly giving your kitty peanuts can cause weight gain, obesity, or diabetes.

Are Cats Allergic To Peanuts?

Yes, some cats can be allergic to peanuts just like humans, but in cats, it’s typically not an immediate life-threatening allergy. Food allergy symptoms in cats are most often present as itchy skin in the head and neck area. A smaller percentage of cats with food allergies exhibit GI symptoms, such as diarrhea or vomiting.

However, food allergy symptoms usually take repeated ingestion of the allergen over time to develop. So consuming one peanut isn’t a cause for concern. But if you’ve been giving your cat peanuts in the past and she’s showing these symptoms, peanuts could be the cause.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Cats Eat Boiled Peanuts?

A Southern favorite, boiled peanuts are okay for cats to eat. But make sure you remove the peanut shell. Many boiled peanuts come with the shell on, but peanut shells aren’t safe for kitties. And again, small amounts infrequently are key.

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter isn’t toxic for cats, but you should follow the same rules with peanut butter as we recommend for peanuts. The big caveat here is that the peanut butter you can give your feline friend should be all-natural without any additives or preservatives. Some commercial peanut butter brands can contain harmful ingredients for cats.

Can Kittens Eat Peanuts?

Peanuts aren’t toxic for kittens (or adult cats), so don’t worry too much if your kitten ingests a peanut. However, kittens’ digestive systems haven’t fully developed yet, so it may cause even more digestive upset than when an adult cat eats a peanut.

We don’t recommend giving peanuts to kittens, but if yours eats one that fell on the floor, keep an eye on her to make sure she’s okay. Depending on how old your kitten is, a small bit of peanut could present a choking issue because they can be hard to chew.

Final Thoughts

If your cat is a huge fan of peanuts, it’s probably okay to give her a small peanut once or twice a week. With more than that amount, you’re risking weight gain and potential salt poisoning. As with many human foods, unseasoned foods in moderation are key. If you’re considering giving your cat any human food, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian to make sure it’s safe for your kitty’s health.

A hungry ginger cat peeks into a bowl of cream for a cake. Whipped cream

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