Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP
By Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP on Sep. 1, 2023
orange cat lying on a bed looking at toast with peanut butter and bananas on it

Peanut butter is a snack beloved by dogs, but what about our feline friends? Can cats eat peanut butter as a treat? Unfortunately, while dogs can safely eat peanut butter, the sweet treat isn’t a good idea for kitties. Here’s what to know.

Is Peanut Butter Bad for Cats?

Most peanut butter is not toxic to cats, as long as it’s free from artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is dangerous to dogs and cats. But for cats, peanut butter is empty calories and adds no nutritional value for them.

Unlike dogs, who are omnivores (meaning they can eat a variety of food sources to meet their nutritional needs), cats are obligate carnivores. This means they need meat proteins specifically to fulfill their requirements. Peanut butter does not qualify as a meat protein, so it’s not metabolized properly by cats. Additionally, peanut butter contains a large amount of fat, which many of our chubby felines don’t need added to their diet.

Bottom line: It’s best to keep peanut butter away from kitties.

Can Cats Have Peanuts?

Although the concern of added toxic ingredients is lessened with peanuts alone (though some are covered in harmful salt or sweeteners such as honey), peanuts are still a high-calorie treat with no added nutritional benefit.

Peanuts should be avoided for many of the same reasons as peanut butter. And, if swallowed whole, peanuts can be a choking risk or cause an intestinal blockage—especially if they’re swallowed while still in the shell. 

My Cat Ate Peanut Butter. What Do I Do?

If your kitty did manage to steal an unauthorized snack of peanut butter, check the label to see if it contains xylitol. If so, this is considered a potentially life-threatening emergency and you should take your cat to the veterinarian immediately.

For peanut butter without xylitol, it’s likely safe to monitor the situation at home. Call your vet if your cat begins to vomit, has diarrhea, or loses his appetite.

If you have any concerns about your cat—or if there’s any chance there was xylitol in the peanut butter—call your veterinarian.

Can Peanut Butter Kill Cats?

For a healthy cat, the biggest risk is peanut butter that contains xylitol. If your cat eats any variety of xylitol-containing peanut butter, the result can be fatal without treatment.

If your cat is prone to gastrointestinal disease, pancreatitis, hepatitis, or diabetes, they are more susceptible to side effects from eating peanut butter, even when no xylitol is present. If your kitty has a medical condition and eats peanut butter, notify your veterinarian.

If your cat eats any variety of xylitol-containing peanut butter, the result can be fatal without treatment.

Most healthy cats will be fine after eating a small amount (less than 1 teaspoon) of peanut butter that doesn’t contain xylitol. If anything, your kitty might just experience some mild signs of gastrointestinal distress, like vomiting or diarrhea.

What To Feed Your Cat Besides Peanut Butter

The best treats to offer your kitty are meat-based. Consider a small square of chicken or turkey breast as a safe and nutritious special treat. A tablespoon of tuna or salmon canned in water (or fresh, if you are cooking at home and haven’t added any spices) can also be a delicious snack.

Boiling some eggs for breakfast? Break one open and offer a little as another yummy snack option for your kitty.

Cats and Peanut Butter FAQs

Can cats eat peanut butter and jelly?

Do not feed cats peanut butter and jelly. Not only is the peanut butter high in fat and potentially full of toxic sweeteners, but the jelly also doubles the risk of toxicity from sweeteners and adds even more empty calories.

Can cats eat peanut butter cookies?

No. Peanut butter cookies contain all the fat and empty calories in found peanut butter, plus even more potentially toxic sweeteners, ingredients, and spices. Cats do not digest or tolerate carbohydrates as well as many other animals, and cookies add a high-carb component to the mix.

Can cats eat peanut butter crackers?

Cats should also not eat peanut butter crackers. These high-carb, high-fat treats have no nutritional value for cats and may contain toxic artificial sweeteners. Skip the peanut butter crackers and look for a much healthier, lean, meat-based snack for your cat to keep him happy and healthy!

Featured Image: iStock/Manuta

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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