✔ This article was reviewed for accuracy by a licensed veterinarian.
Cats love to eat almost anything they can get their paws on. At least mine do. When cooking, my cats are always over my shoulder trying to get a sample of the latest menu.
A product that seems to have a ton of questions about cat consumption is peanuts. So, it begs the question: Can cats eat peanuts?
Yes, cats can eat peanuts in limited quantities. However, these peanuts should be served raw and unsalted. Although a good source of protein and fats, they’re not a preferable source of nutrition for your cat.
Our team has performed extensive research on the feline diet in recent months. We’ve been coordinating with our staff vet, reading peer-reviewed research, and speaking with specialists in the field. This due diligence has enabled us to share answers to your pressing questions about cat dietary restrictions!
We cover the following items in this post:
- Are Peanuts Safe For My Cat?
- How Are Peanuts Beneficial For Cats?
- How Are Peanuts Bad For Cats?
- Can Cats Be Allergic to Peanuts?
- How Often Can I Feed My Cat Peanuts?
- Can I Give My Cat Peanuts Without Cooking Them First?
- How About Peanut Butter?
- What Other Snacks Are Good For Cats?
Are Peanuts Safe For My Cat?
Yes, peanuts are safe for your cat. That is as long as they’re raw and unsalted. In other words, peanuts that are straight from the shell are safe for cats in moderation. However, they are not necessary for a healthy feline diet and shouldn’t be fed to your cat often.
Cats are obligate carnivores. This means they require meat to survive.
Peanuts, on the other hand, are not even nuts — they’re legumes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth noting as legumes are not a major part of a cat’s diet. Although peanuts are a good source of protein, they’re not the ideal source of protein for our furry roommates.
Your cat’s digestive system is an important factor as well. Animal-based protein is easier for your cat to digest than plant-based protein and other sources of protein.
So, remember: If you’re going to share some peanuts with your cat, ensure they are:
- Out of the shell (cats shouldn’t eat any part of the shell)
How Are Peanuts Beneficial For Cats?
If you decide to share some peanuts with your cat, it’s worth noting that there are some benefits to their consumption of the treat. These include:
- A healthy appetite. Peanuts can be a good source of calories for cats. However, you should ensure that the calories in peanuts are counted towards the total calories required by your cat. We’ve put together a guide to help you understand how much to feed your cat.
- Nutritional benefits. Peanuts provide nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- Digestive health. Peanut oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help with digestion. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help your cat achieve healthier skin, a shinier coat and healthier hair follicles, and improved joint health.
- Increases protein levels. Peanuts are rich in protein, which helps build muscle mass. Protein makes up the bulk of a cat’s diet. However, we strongly recommend animal proteins as the majority of your cat’s diet.
You should make sure that peanuts are given to your cat intermittently. Your cat requires a healthy blend of protein, carbs, and fats. The best way to do so is by feeding your cat food created specifically for them. We love Tiki Cat wet food and Purina ONE dry food.
This section of the article is not intended to advocate for sharing peanuts with your cat. We’ve included it to ensure we cover this question from every angle — in order to provide you with the facts!
How Are Peanuts Bad For Cats?
There are some risks associated with giving your cat peanuts. However, we want to note that these risks are generally associated with consistent consumption of peanuts or many peanuts consumed at one time. As such, we want to be transparent, but don’t want to scare you!
These can include:
- Upset gastrointestinal tract. Peanuts contain a lot of fat, which may upset your cat’s digestive tract (stomach and intestines). They may get constipated if fed too much.
- Allergic reactions. Some cats are allergic to peanuts.
- Salmonella poisoning. Salmonella bacteria can be found in raw peanuts on rare occasions. NIH performed a study on the prevalence and concentration of Salmonella on raw shelled peanuts in the United States and found that there was salmonella in about 2.3% of sampled peanuts. As such, this risk is minimal.
- Kidney damage. If your cat ingests large amounts of peanuts, it may lead to kidney problems.
- Skin irritation. Peanuts can irritate the skin, especially if your cat has a minor allergy to them.
- Liver disease. The liver is vital for processing toxins from foods. If your cat ingests too many peanuts, he could develop liver disease.
- Other health issues. Peanuts can also cause other health problems such as heartburn, vomiting, and diarrhea.
What Happens If My Cat Eats A Peanut Accidentally?
A single peanut, regardless of if it’s salted or not, shouldn’t be an issue for your cat. It is unlikely that your cat will experience any adverse reactions.
However, if your cat starts to vomit or shows signs of discomfort, you should take it to the vet immediately. There is a chance your cat may be having an allergic reaction to the peanut if it presents any of the symptoms listed below.
Can Cats Be Allergic to Peanuts?
Yes. Like people, cats can be allergic to certain foods. Cats may present the following symptoms if they are allergic to peanuts (or any food they’re allergic to):
- Itchy skin
- Ear infections
- Trouble breathing
In severe cases, a cat that is allergic to peanuts may have life-threatening anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction and a cat may present symptoms minutes or hours after consumption.
You shouldn’t worry about allergies with your cat unless you have seen a poor reaction to a certain food previously. If you are concerned, you may want to meet with your vet and try a skin-prick test to help in diagnosing a potential allergy.
How Often Can I Feed My Cat Peanuts?
You shouldn’t feed your cats peanuts often as they’re not required for a healthy feline diet.
However, if your cat has shown an interest in peanuts before and you are comfortable feeding them small amounts — you can continue to feed them small amounts intermittently. We recommend not making a habit of it though. Possibly 1-2 times a week.
As mentioned above, please ensure the kcals that come from the peanuts are part of a normal caloric daily intake for your cat. Additional snacks can lead to your cat gaining unwanted weight, especially if it’s not very active.
Can I Give My Cat Peanuts Without Cooking Them First?
Yes, you can feed your cat raw peanuts. In fact, you should only feed your cat raw, unsalted peanuts.
However, you can feed your cat cooked peanuts as well. If you want to cook them, we recommend doing so in water.
You should soak raw peanuts overnight in cold water. Then drain the water and dry the peanuts thoroughly.
Next, place them in a pan over medium heat. Cook them until they start to turn brown. This takes about 5 minutes.
Once the peanuts have turned brown, remove them from the heat and cool them down. You can then store them in an airtight container. Don’t feed them to your cat while they’re still hot!
How About Peanut Butter?
You shouldn’t feed your cat peanut butter.
It has added ingredients to sweeten it and preservatives like salt and benzoic acid. Your cat’s digestive tract wasn’t made for sweeteners or preservatives, so we strongly recommend against it.
What Other Snacks Are Good For Cats?
We’ve put together an extensive article covering the foods poisonous to cats, and in it, we also cover foods safe for cats.
As you likely know, your cat likes to snack on just about anything you’re willing to give them. We recommend feeding them cat-safe, high-protein snacks. Some great options include:
- Chicken (cooked)
- Eggs (cooked)
- Beef (cooked)
- Fish (cooked)
- Brown rice
- Cat treats
Just remember that animal proteins should be cooked and unseasoned. Light seasoning is okay, but you’ll find that many ingredients in seasoning can be toxic to your cats.
Final Thoughts: Can Cats Eat Peanuts?
Your cat can eat small amounts of peanuts, but shouldn’t have them often. If you decide to give your cats some, it’s best to give them small amounts of raw, unsalted peanuts.
It’s worth remembering that cats can and do fend for themselves in the wild. They don’t always have the best cat food available and tend to do alright. So, don’t fret if you shared a bit too much of something your cat shouldn’t eat often. If you feel it was too much — monitor your cat, and do your best to avoid doing so in the future.
We recommend reading our article on how much to feed a cat. You may learn some helpful tips to keep your cat’s weight and overall health in check!