Can Cats Have Honey? Is It Safe For Cats To Eat Honey?

Can cats have honey? Is honey something felines should ever eat? It is high in sugar and may be hard to digest, but is it harmful to cats? You may want to think twice before giving your cat this sweet stuff.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: February 2, 2024 | 7 min read

Cat sniffing honey comb on a plate on a white background

This article should not substitute contact with a veterinarian. Contact your local vet immediately if your cat is reacting poorly after consumption.

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Has your cat ever tried to sneak a lick of honey when making your morning tea? Kitties always trying to take a bite or sip of what they see us eating and drinking is typical behavior. While some human foods are safe for felines to have, that may not always be the case. So, is honey safe for cats to eat?

Some owners may want to give their cats honey because it has so many healthy qualities for people. In fact, many online suggestions imply that it may be safe to use medicinally for felines. Unfortunately, this is a big misconception.

Sweet stuff like honey is not naturally part of your cat’s carnivorous diet. Let’s get to the bottom of this sticky business and find out if cats can have honey.

Can Cats Eat Honey?

Cats should not eat honey. Although one lick or so will not cause significant damage, honey and felines do not mix well.

Though this is not toxic or poisonous for kitties, it has very little nutritional value for them and is hard on the digestive system. This stuff is mainly sugar, which isn’t something kitties need to have in large amounts. Too much sugar can cause serious issues for felines. Their digestive tracts are not equipped to handle high-sugar foods.

What The Vet Says

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they are designed to live and thrive on meat. Their sense of taste is also geared up towards meat eating. Cats, therefore, have little or no ability to taste sweet things, which explains why many have little interest in our sugary snacks. It is, therefore, unlikely that a cat will want to eat honey in the first place. However, if they do decide to give it a try, then the good news is that honey is not toxic to cats.

– Rebecca MacMillan BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS

Dr. MacMillan cautions, “Small amounts of honey are unlikely to do your cat any harm, but larger amounts could cause mild stomach upsets as well as a spike in blood sugar. If fed regularly, the additional calories could lead to weight gain. It Is worth noting that the risks are slightly higher in young kittens, who, like human babies, are at risk of developing botulism from honey consumption. Honey contains bacterial spores that can release dangerous neurotoxins into the bloodstream of individuals whose immune systems are not developed yet.”

Vets don’t recommend feeding your cat honey for these reasons, so stick to their normal complete diet. Cats that eat a small amount of honey do not usually require any treatment. This, coupled with the fact that most cats won’t eat it in the first place, means that I have yet to see a case of honey ingestion in my clinic,” said Dr. MacMillan.

What Is Honey?

Pot of honey with drizzle and stir stick
Honey can be a wonderful addition to human foods and beverages. But that doesn’t mean it’s cat-safe.

Honey is a natural substance made by bees commonly used as a sweetener in human foods and beverages. There are over 300 varieties. Honeybees make it from flowering plant nectar. Along with being a common sweetener, this stuff has several other qualities. It can even be used as a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

According to the Mayo Clinic, honey has been studied to treat several conditions in humans, including cough, wound care, gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease, and even neurological disease. It has been used to soothe sore throats and upset stomachs, as an anticoagulant, and to help with depression and anxiety. But, despite all the benefits of honey for us, it is not healthy for our cats.

Is Honey Safe For Cats?

No, honey is not safe for cats. While not toxic, this food is unsafe for felines to eat in large amounts. Raw, in particular, can be very dangerous.

Overweight kitties have compromised immune systems, and when still raw, honey can cause a very bad reaction, even fatal. The same can happen with kittens.

Though not toxic, this food isn’t healthy for them. It has an extremely high amount of fructose and glucose, which are sugars. Sugar is something felines need little of in their diets. After all, they need meat-based diets. Kitties love to eat fat, which may be what attracts them to butter, cream, ice cream, etc.

Plant-based foods high in sugar do not add anything nutritionally. In fact, honey is about 80% sugar, meaning this stuff is tough for kitties to digest because they do not produce the proper enzymes to break down fructose and glucose.

What Happens If My Cat Eats Honey?

A cat partaking in a drop or two as an isolated incident is not a significant cause for concern. With such a small amount, even though it may be hard to digest, your cat will be okay, though they may experience some mild discomfort. Eating too much sugar can cause some unpleasant side effects in your kitty’s digestive system. What seems like a tiny amount of sugar for humans is a significantly large amount for felines. So even a minimal amount is not a good idea.

Kitties with adverse reactions may experience stomach aches, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight gain. If they consume a large amount of it, their body’s insulin levels increase.

Kitties who eat too many human foods, especially those high in sugar, can become obese and develop diabetes. Exposure to such high-sugar foods also increases their risk of dental decay and developing dental disease.

Along with some adverse physical effects, this sweet goo is never something one wants to get anywhere near a kitty’s soft coat. This stuff is extremely sticky and will cause a huge mess if it gets on your cat’s fur.

Negative Effects On Cats

Although an occasional bite will not cause irreparable harm, long-term and regular consumption of the sweet stuff is harmful to your cat. Some of the adverse side effects include:

  1. Upset stomach and pain
  2. Digestive difficulty
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Nausea
  5. Vomiting
  6. Weight gain
  7. Diabetes
  8. Increased dental decay
  9. Sticky fur and poor coat condition

Why Is Raw Honey More Dangerous?

Raw is more dangerous, especially to kittens and adult kitties with weaker or less mature immune systems. The raw stuff contains bacteria and has not been pasteurized, meaning it still contains the risk of harmful bacteria and yeast.

Felines who eat raw honey varieties are at a higher risk of developing food poisoning or infection, including botulism. Giving a kitten this is never a good idea and not something adult kitties should have much of.

Can Cats Eat Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is produced from the Manuka bush, a plant native to Australia and New Zealand. The Manuka bush has been described as an Evergreen shrub with pointy green leaves. Manuka is a very hardy plant and can survive harsh conditions.

The Manuka honey variety contains elements like hydrogen peroxide, making it a popular natural antiseptic and antibiotic. Though there are many claims otherwise, there has not been any research to prove that Manuka honey is any better for cats than other kinds.

Raw manuka honey is often used to treat wounds, but that is not advised with cats. They will simply lick it off. Raw manuka honey is not safe for them to consume, as it poses the risk of bacteria.

Alternatives To Honey For Cats

Unless you are specifically directed to by your veterinarian, it is best to keep your cat away from honey. Many other things will work better.

Kitties of all ages, sizes, and breeds will go crazy for the smell and taste of fresh, high-quality meat. Freeze-dried foods and treats are a great option. These are often single proteins and are unprocessed. This means that meat is freeze-dried to remove moisture but retains its flavor and nutritional value.

Along with freeze-dried foods and treats, you can also look to more traditional cat treats and freeze-dried foods and treats. These include meaty treats, catnip treats, and CBD treats. CBD treats can benefit kitties in a few ways and come in several varieties.

Frequently Asked Questions

A cat with crepes and topping on a table.
As sweet and tempting as it is, don’t let your kitties get their paws on honey.

I know there are plenty of questions about cats eating honey. Let me know if I missed yours in the comments.

Should I give my cat honey for a cough or sore throat home remedy?

No, it would be best if you did not give your cat honey as a home remedy for a cough or sore throat. It is much better to consult your veterinarian at the first sign or symptom that your kitty may be sick. If your cat is coughing, discuss this with your veterinarian rather than trying home remedies.

While it is often tempting to try things like honey as a home remedy for cats, most of the time, they are not as effective as they claim to be. In some cases, there can even be a risk for harm, like a bacterial infection. Always consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet’s health.

Can cats eat syrup?

No, cats should not eat any kind of syrup. It is high in sugar and is often made with artificial additives and ingredients. While they can technically eat it, meaning they can go through the act of consuming it, syrup holds no nutritional value. It is far too high in sugar for felines and should be avoided.

Can kittens eat honey?

No, kittens cannot eat honey. This is not something that should be offered to them or that they should be allowed to get into on their own. Raw honey poses an even more considerable risk for kittens.

Healthy Food Makes A Happy Cat

Cats love to eat, and they need a healthy diet to keep them at their best. Because they are carnivores meat, meat-based food is best. Always read ingredients, and look for foods that start with named meats like chicken, turkey, beef, or fish. Plant materials are harder for cats to digest, so while fresh veggies and fruits can offer some nutritional benefits, cats don’t need too much of them in their diets. Avoid those foods that list corn or wheat gluten as the first ingredients. You should also be cautious with feeding your cat human foods, especially if they are heavy in seasonings and spices.

Why Trust Love Your Cat?

Danielle is a cat owner with over 30 years of experience. She has spent the last decade working as a professional writer and researcher. Danielle takes pride in keeping up to date with all the latest science-backed studies and progress in pet care, health, and products. Her goal is to assist pet owners in providing the best care, nutrition, and quality of life for their pets.

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