Can Cats Eat Butter?

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The other morning, I was getting ready for a busy day and was making breakfast when I soon realized I’d left the butter out. I ran straight into the kitchen to find Milo had dived head-first into the container!

I can’t describe how scared I was. But it got me thinking whether cats can eat butter.

Keep reading to find out why giving butter to your cat isn’t the best idea and some of the problems it’ll cause.

Can Cats Eat Butter?

Technically, cats can eat butter but it isn’t good for them. Butter is loaded with fat and sodium, which can cause severe health problems for them.

While it can be tempting to give your furry friend a little bit every so often, it’s best to avoid it.

Butter does offer vitamins A, D, and B and high concentrations of calcium and protein. But cats should get these nutrients from a complete, balanced diet.

Plus, cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they struggle to digest the sugar in dairy products. Suppose they consume even a small quantity of butter. In that case, they can experience symptoms like diarrhea, severe stomach ache, cramping, and vomiting.

The Dangers of Butter for Cats

If cats eat butter regularly, they’re more likely to suffer from various health risks. While the odd bit won’t hurt them, its ingredients can be dangerous for them.

Let’s look at some of the common health problems associated with cats eating butter.

High Sodium

Butter contains high concentrations of sodium. In fact, a single tablespoon contains around 100 grams of sodium, which is already above the recommended daily sodium allowance of 40mg.

Excessive salt can result in your cat having high blood pressure, which leads to sodium toxicity.

Some common symptoms of sodium toxicity include:

  • Abnormal body temperature
  • Bloody urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Depression
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness

Exceeding your cat’s daily recommended sodium intake can even cause organ failure, coma, or death. But, these are in extreme cases. To help prevent this, you must monitor your cat’s salt intake daily.

Weight Gain & Obesity

Butter is extremely high in fat. In fact, it is made up of 80% fat, with about 65% of this being saturated fat.

While cholesterol doesn’t impact cats as severely as other animals, high amounts can still cause issues.

Your adult cat should only eat 4.7g of fat a day. But according to the USDA, a tablespoon of butter (14.2g) has roughly 11.5g of fat. This is way too much for your furry friend and will quickly lead to weight gain.

High fat concentrations also put excessive strain on the kidneys and arteries over time. But unfortunately, the health risks don’t stop there.

Weight gain can quickly lead to other serious health problems, such as pancreatitis and obesity. And obesity can cause cats to suffer from diabetes and arthritis.

High in Calories

Butter contains lots of calories. A tablespoon of butter contains roughly 102 calories.

Whereas, on average, cats weigh about 10 lbs. So they need about 298 calories a day.

A single tablespoon contains almost half your cat’s daily calorie allowance. Too many calories can lead to weight gain and other serious health problems. So it’s best to avoid butter altogether.

Diabetes

Cats that eat butter can develop diabetes.

As you’ve probably gathered, weight gain causes obesity, which can cause diabetes. It’s a vicious cycle. So restricting the amount of high-fat, high-calorie foods can help prevent this.

From early on, cats with diabetes will show symptoms such as dehydration, weight loss, excessively urinating, or increased appetite. That being said, these symptoms can also indicate other underlying health issues. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to take them to a vet for examination.

As diabetes develops, it can cause other severe symptoms such as:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Fatty liver
  • Cataracts
  • Blindness

Diabetes can be treated in a variety of ways. It can require life-long treatments such as insulin injections but can also be treated with strict dieting and exercise.

Pancreatitis

Any food with high amounts of fat can cause pancreatitis, and butter is no exception.

Pancreatitis is extremely painful for cats. It happens when the pancreas becomes inflamed and can have life-long effects. In cats, diabetes is often an underlying cause of pancreatitis.

Lactose Intolerance

Most cats are lactose intolerant. But this isn’t the case their entire life.

When they’re kittens, they feed and get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk. But, as they grow older and slowly transition to solid foods, their digestive system loses the enzymes (lactase) needed to digest the lactose in most dairy products.

It’s worth noting that butter does contain the least lactose compared to other dairy products. Yet, raw milk has the highest lactose levels.

Below is a breakdown of some dairy products and their lactose levels.

FoodLactose (grams)
Ice Cream0.4 – 0.6
Cheese0.4 – 4
Butter0.04 – 0.5
Raw Milk10 – 11.6

Nonetheless, cats are still unable to process and digest lactose in their body. Any amount can cause them severe discomfort.

Common signs of lactose intolerance include gassiness, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, excessive thirst, constipation, dehydration, and increased heart rate.

Can Kittens Eat Butter?

Kittens can eat butter, but should they? No. 

Kittens need healthy doses of nutrients to support their rapid growth. Their digestive system still has the enzymes needed to break down the sugar in dairy products. But they should be eating foods that give them maximum nutrition and essential nutrients.

Real meats contain several amino acids that their body is unable to synthesize. For example, kittens (and cats) cannot create taurine in their bodies. They can only get this essential amino acid from real animal meats in their meals.

Can Cats Eat Butter Popcorn?

Butter popcorn should be avoided by cats. It can contain artificial ingredients like diacetyl, a chemical known to cause severe lung disease in animals.

In small amounts, it won’t cause severe harm to cats. That being said, it should be kept to a minimum.

Plain popcorn isn’t toxic for cats. But from a nutritional perspective, it really doesn’t add anything. In fact, carbohydrates are simply not needed in a cat’s diet.

Can Cats Eat Almond Butter?

Almonds aren’t toxic for cats. So yes, cats can eat almond butter.

This type of butter is simply made out of just concentrated almonds. However, it’s best to ensure it doesn’t contain any added sugars or artificial ingredients that may be harmful to your cat.

Cats should also have easy access to water, as almond butter’s thick consistency can be hard to swallow for cats. 

Can Cats Eat Cocoa Butter?

Cocoa butter is made out of whole cocoa beans. These are highly toxic and sometimes fatal for cats.

Toxins known as methylxanthines (theobromine) are commonly found in cocoa beans and chocolate. These toxins affect the gastrointestinal tract by inducing vomiting and leading to hyperactivity.

Different types of chocolate have various quantities of theobromine. 

In general, cocoa beans contain about 140mg per kilogram. Cats only need to consume 200 mg per kilogram of theobromine to suffer from toxicity.

Symptoms can be severe, causing cats to experience seizures, heart attack, or death. And even if they do sail through this poisoning, the high amounts of fat can still cause your cat to suffer from pancreatitis.

Can Cats Eat Cashew Butter?

Overall, cashews are perfectly safe for cats to eat. But, while they aren’t poisonous for cats, it’s still best to avoid them.

Cashew butter contains high concentrations of fat and salt that can cause cats a wide range of health issues. It can cause cats to suffer from diarrhea, stomach pain, and even pancreatitis in large quantities.

Can Cats Eat Vegan Butter?

Vegan butter has much less animal fat compared to butter. However, manufacturers will typically make it using plant-based oils to substitute animal dairy. And most of these oils are high in fats that aren’t nutritionally beneficial for cats.

Cats don’t get any significant nutrients from eating vegan butter. Plus, the high amounts of fat in vegan butter can lead to conditions like diabetes.

Can Cats Eat Margarine?

Yes, cats can eat margarine, but should they no. Non-dairy margarine doesn’t contain enough nutrients to contribute to your cat’s diet. Simply, it has no nutritional value.

Margarine contains the same amount of calories as a tablespoon of butter, which is 102 calories. This can make up nearly half your cat’s daily calorie allowance and quickly lead to weight gain and obesity.

Plus, the chances of upsetting a cat’s stomach are pretty high. That being said, margarine only has 0.3 mg of sodium in a 14.2g tablespoon. So it’s much less likely to cause salt poisoning compared to butter.

Can I Use Butter for Hair Balls?

Some industry experts suggest butter as a great way to lubricate hairballs to prevent them from getting stuck in the digestive tract. However, butter isn’t explicitly made for this purpose.

In fact, there is limited scientific research to substantiate whether butter is effective in dealing with hairballs.

And it contains numerous harmful substances that can seriously impact your furry friend. High sodium, calories, and saturated fats are all reasons to prevent using butter for hairballs.

There are plenty of products for hairball control, along with several high-quality, balanced and complete cat foods with added fiber for digestion. Speak to your vet about some of the most suitable remedies for hairballs instead of using a DIY method.

Safe Alternatives to Butter

It’s best to avoid butter altogether. Instead, you can offer several tasty treats that are nutritional for your cat:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Carrots
  • Plain chicken, turkey, beef, or fish
  • Cat treats
  • Pumpkin
  • Melon
  • Eggs

Usually, cats thrive better on meats. Offering them plain meats provides them with the nutrients they need for energy, protein, and amino acids that aid essential bodily functions.

Looking to find out more about cat nutrition? Why not start with our comprehensive list of toxic human foods cats should avoid.

Spread the Word

Can cats eat butter? No. Butter is full of salt, fat, and calories that can be highly harmful to cats.

A single tablespoon is enough to cause salt poisoning and weight gain. But a tiny lick is unlikely to cause serious problems.

Understandably, we all want to share our tasty foods with our furry best friends. After all, we love them. They’re part of our family. But, when it comes to butter, it might be better to put their health first and choose much safer alternatives.

FAQ

Can Cats Eat Garlic Butter?

No. Cats should avoid garlic butter at all costs. In fact, garlic is one of the worst foods to give your cat because of its toxicity levels. And butter is full of fat, salt, and calories which can cause severe health problems for your cat.

Can Cats Be Allergic to Butter?

Most of the time, no. In fact, dairy allergies only occur in about 10% of cats. But, most cats are lactose intolerant. They eventually lose the enzymes needed to digest the lactase contained in dairy products. So when they eat dairy, they can cause themselves severe stomach issues.

Can Cats Eat Butter and Bread?

Yes and no. Bread is safe for cats to eat. But butter can cause severe health issues due to its high fat, sodium, and calories.

And it’s important to remember that cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat to thrive. Cats cannot synthesize specific nutrients like taurine, which is essential for heart health and hydration. They can only get this amino acid from meats in their daily diet.

So while bread is perfectly safe for cats to eat, it doesn’t contribute any notable nutrients to their diet.

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James Fuller and Mollie

James Fuller

Founder & Chief Content Creator

I’ve owned a pet most of my life. In fact, I currently have both a cat, Milo, and a Jack Russel, Mollie! I’m the founder of Honest Whiskers. And my mission is to deliver a reliable, trusted website that only uses evidence-based information.

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