Can Cats Eat Butter?

Published May 3, 2024
bengal cat sitting on a wooden counter top

petrenkod/ via Getty Images

As you get your morning toast ready, your curious cat might be sniffing the stick of butter on your countertop. Is this OK, and can cats eat butter without harmful side effects?

While butter is not toxic to cats, it’s not good for them either. Here’s what you need to know about butter for cats.

Is Butter Harmful to Cats?

Plain white butter is non-toxic and OK for cats to eat in small amounts. However, this does not mean that butter is good for cats, and they definitely should not eat a lot of it.

Butter is very high in fat and can cause a cat’s intestinal tract and pancreas to become inflamed, which can lead to gastroenteritis and pancreatitis. Some cats will develop vomiting and diarrhea, which is generally mild. But for those that develop pancreatitis, the condition can be much more significant. They can experience more severe vomiting and diarrhea, along with abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

Most cats can tolerate a small lick or two of butter, but many—if not most—can run into trouble if they eat a larger amount.

Can Cats Eat Flavored Butter?

It’s best to never deliberately feed your cat any butter, including flavored butter. Many flavored butters contain ingredients that can make your cat sick. For example, onion and garlic are toxic to cats, and many herbs are not well tolerated by kitties.

My Cat Ate Butter. What Do I Do?

If your cat eats a few licks of butter, chances are good that everything will be fine. Most animals will, at worst, develop mild vomiting or diarrhea that will resolve itself within a day.

However, if your kitty ate a large amount of butter, it’s wise to contact your veterinarian for further advice. Always contact your veterinarian if your cat:

  • Shows signs of significant abdominal discomfort (restlessness, bloating, gas, not wanting to be picked up, etc.)

  • Is unwilling to eat

  • Experiences vomiting or diarrhea that lasts longer than a day

Can Butter Kill Cats?

No, butter will not kill your cat because it’s not toxic. For most cats, the most serious problems caused by butter are mild gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

What To Feed Your Cat Instead

If you want to share a snack with your cat, your best options are lean, human-grade meats. This includes:

These are much safer than fatty foods like butter and deliver valuable nutrition. Even some commercial companies produce freeze-dried meat treats, such as PureBites® and Whole Life®, which can be very popular with our feline friends.

Remember that all treats, even healthy meat-based ones, should only make up 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake. The other 90% needs to come from a well-balanced cat food formula.

Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


Sandra Mitchell is a 1995 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in many fields...

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