Did you catch your cat licking a tub of butter you left on the counter? Can cats eat butter? Is butter bad for cats? Will it make them sick? Don’t be alarmed, we’ve got all the answers.
Yes, cats can eat butter but they shouldn’t. Butter is not a typical food for a cat and does not contain healthy nutrients it needs
Here are dietary information and safety precautions that every cat owner should know.
Is it safe to give cats butter?
Butter can be healthy for humans in moderation. It contains vitamins B12, D, and A, calcium, and a lot of saturated fat.
Even so, butter for cats is very unhealthy. The nutritional benefits it gives are far outweighed by the health risks. Although butter is not poisonous for cats, it can make them sick in large quantities.
Debunking myths about cats and butter
Cat owners give their cats butter because they heard it can be good for their pets. Here are interesting facts that debunk the myths about eating butter.
Butter for cats help grease out hairballs
Some cat owners give their cat butter because they believe that it lubricates the throat. They believe this helps the cats cough up hairballs. This is unnecessary since coughing up hairballs is part of a cat’s life.
But if the constant coughing upsets or worries you, ask your vet for recommendations. There are other products made to help cats cough up hairballs. These are safer and more efficient.
Butter for cats helps them gain weight
Butter can increase your cat’s weight but at the expense of his health. It’s no good to gain weight if it’s compromising the health of your cat. If your pet is underweight, consult a professional. There are special high-quality cat foods that target malnourished and underweight cats.
Health risks when cats eat butter
Here are reasons why you shouldn’t include butter in your cat’s diet.
Because butter is rich in saturated and unsaturated fat, its caloric content is very high. Monitoring the calorie intake of cats is important. Less active indoor cats need more supervision when it comes to their diet. If cats consume a lot of calories and are not able to burn them, it can lead to a load of health problems. Checking the nutritional value of the foods they eat could avoid future sicknesses.
Trans-fatty acids are commercially manufactured fats. These are mixed with different foods to give them a longer shelf life. These could cause heart-related problems, digestive problems, and certain cancers.
Lack of Minerals and Vitamins
While butter has small amounts of vitamins, cats only get a minimal amount. The risks they get are far greater. Cat food is the best diet for your pet. It contains all the minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients that cats need to be in the best health.
High-sodium or salt content
Did you know that unsalted butter still contains a trace amount of sodium? A 100-grams unsalted contains 11 mg of sodium.
Salt is dangerous for your feline friends. It could give them seizures and lead to lethargy and brain and kidney damage.
What happens when cats eat butter?
Regular consumption of butter can cause changes in a cat’s health and behavior. Below are the side effects of eating too much butter.
Lactose is the sugar found in dairy products like butter. Lactose breaks down. It is absorbed into the bloodstream and converted into energy. Lactose is among the main reason why cats cannot eat butter.
We were programmed to believe that cats love milk. It’s only partially true. Kittens can safely consume milk and other dairy products, mainly because kittens can produce lactase which is an enzyme capable of digesting dairy.
Baby cats mainly survive on their mother’s milk. Their body can produce lactase. But just because kittens can tolerate milk and dairy, it doesn’t mean that you should give your kittens butter as treats. Doing this can create a habit that can be hard to break once they grow up.
Adult cats are lactose intolerant. It means they can not process lactose in butter and other dairy product.
Some cats are more tolerant than others, and a little bit of dairy won’t make them sick immediately. Other cats can be easily affected with minimal amounts of butter. Lactose intolerance could cause episodes of diarrhea and vomiting. Regular consumption of butter may cause digestive complications.
The main reason why butter is not advisable for cats is because of its high-fat content. A tablespoon or 14 grams of butter contains 11.5 grams of fat. That is 82% of fat!
A cat’s diet should primarily compose of animal protein. Fat, especially the saturated fat found in butter, can cause obesity.
Overweight cats will find it hard to move around. They will have a hard time engaging in productive playtime. Without proper exercise and socialization, they can become depressed.
Similar to humans, obesity cause many other diseases. It may lead to diseases of the heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and bones.
Butter may also cause pancreatitis. The pancreas is a small organ that regulates blood and releases enzymes needed to digest fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Ingestion of toxins and too much fat can inflame the pancreas and cause pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis can become severe and lethal if not treated immediately.
Symptoms of pancreatitis
Pancreatitis is hard to catch in time. Here are tell-tale signs of pancreatitis:
- lack of appetite
- abdominal pain
- weight loss
Diabetes is a result of pancreatitis. The damaged and inflamed pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. Insulin is the hormone necessary to regulate blood sugar which gives cells their energy. Without insulin, the blood is saturated with sugar and fat and will cause damage to major organs.
There is no cure for diabetes, but medications can help manage this disease. Cats with levels 1 and 2 diabetes can live for several years with the proper treatment.
Symptoms of diabetes
- increased appetite
- increased urination
- increased thirst
- weight loss
While young felines can digest dairy products, they are still at risk when eating butter. Younger cats may choke when thick butter gets stuck in their throats. Younger cats are also at more risk when ingesting foods rich in fats because of their smaller bodies. They cannot nurn off excess fats as adults can.
A few kitties are allergic to butter since this fatty food. Cats cannot eat butter if they have allergies. Allergic reactions can cause severe itching and infections in the ear. A cat can also become irritable.
In severe cases, anaphylaxis can happen, and cats may die if not treated immediately.
What do you do if a cat eats butter?
If a cat accidentally ate butter, it is not an immediate cause for panic. As long as your cat is not allergic, it’s okay. Small amounts will not kill your cats or give them chronic diseases. But be prepared for vomiting and gastrointestinal problems.
If cats exhibit severe symptoms after eating too much butter, take it to the vet immediately.
How do you stop a cat from eating butter?
Cats are intelligent and resourceful. They will find a way to get what they want even if it gives them health issues. These are some tips to keep them away from the fatty butter treat they love:
- Secure the refrigerator;
- Place butter in a sealed container;
- Never introduce butter to cats, or they will get hooked.
Can cats eat vegan butter?
You have been reading about the many reasons why butter is unhealthy for cats. You may be wondering, is vegan butter better than regular butter?
Vegan butter is a healthier option for humans, but for cats, it is not. Most vegan butter contains vegetable oil which has high-fat content. To remove the lactose content, manufacturers substitute animal fat with plant-based oils. The latter is not as high in cholesterol as animal oil, but it is still unhealthy for cats.
In short, cats should not eat any butter.
Can cats eat margarine?
Margarine is not a dairy product. It will not cause tummy problems for your lactose-intolerant pets. Like butter, margarine has plant-based oils. And like butter, margarine is not healthy for your feline furballs.
Healthier alternatives to butter
Cats love butter because of its rich and creamy taste, and they will beg for it. Don’t be tempted. Instead of giving your cat butter, here are much better alternatives:
Bananas contain potassium and vitamin C. They are excellent for the heart and blood pressure. If your cat keeps having an upset stomach after a meal, bananas can help with the digestive process.
Pumpkin is rich in fiber and other nutrients. Fiber can help with hairballs and constipation. Pumpkin is served best in puree form without any flavorings like salt.
Cats have a sweet tooth. Your cat will surely love to eat a piece of cantaloupe and honeydew. These fruits are rich in vitamins A and C.
Because they have iron and high fiber content, oats make an excellent addition to your cat’s diet. Oats will benefit the health of a cat. Fiber-rich foods help cats digest and process food easier and prevent digestive problems.
Meat is a cat’s primary source of protein. Cooked meat is good, but hams are bad because they contain too much salt.
Eggs are another protein source. Like meat, cooked eggs are a safer option since raw eggs may contain salmonella or E.coli.
Some people mistakenly think that eggs are dairy products. Eggs are not produced from milk and do not contain lactose. They are safe for lactose-intolerant felines.
Many cats love to nibble on grass. Leafy green snacks like spinach are rich in vitamins. But if you’re cat is having urinary issues, spinach can be harmful to them.
Moderation is key
Pets and people love treats. Your cat is no different. Sometimes they may prefer treats instead of healthy food. Do not give your pets treats daily. Two to three treats per week are enough to keep them happy and excited.
People food is not cat food
Go easy on giving your cats people food. Cat food should be the primary diet for your cat. Cat food contains all the vitamins and nutrients that your cat needs.
Avoid toxic treats
Toxic cat treats include grapes, onions, raisins, alcohol, tea, and salt. Before introducing a new treat to your cat, it is best to ask your vet first.
No to begging
You should train your pets not to beg for treats and food. It’s easy to fall for a cat’s big round eyes and loving purring but don’t reward begging.
Make your cat treats
There are many commercial cats treats available in the market, but it’s much better if you make your own. It’s easy you can use natural green food. A mix of dried and fresh fruits is a good option. You can also cook small amounts of meat or liver.
Catnips and cat grass are also good treats. They can be grown in small pots and placed in a sunlit area.
Use treats to keep them fit
Giving treats in exchange for tricks and after agility training will make it more enjoyable for your kitty.
Final thoughts: Can cats eat butter?
Butter is like junk food to a cat. Butter for cats poses more side effects than benefits. The fat content in butter is too high for their little bodies to take. Aside from the fact that cats are lactose intolerant, butter provides little to no nutritional value.
If you are still intent on giving your cat butter as a treat, you have to track its calorie and cholesterol intake. Provide your cat with lots of opportunities to burn excess fat through exercise and play. Routine check-ups will also help avoid health issues and keep your cat in perfect health.