Almonds are one of my favourite foods. They taste delicious and are packs with minerals, healthy fats and other nutrients, making them a wholesome snack… for humans. For cats, they’re less beneficial. Almonds aren’t poisonous to cats (although bitter almonds do contain small amounts of cyanide), but they’re not something your feline friend should be eating regularly. You don’t need to worry too much if you happen to drop an almond on the floor and your cat decides to eat it, but you shouldn’t give your cat almonds as a treat. Yes, they contain protein — but not in a for your cat can digest.
Can cats eat almonds? Almonds aren’t poisonous to cats but contribute little of nutritional value. Cats can’t properly digest almonds due to their short digestive tracts. A cat that consumes more than one or two almonds is likely to suffer from indigestion, vomiting and possibly diarrhoea.
You’ve arrived on this page because you have questions about cats and whether they can eat almonds. Can cats eat almonds? If my cat eats an almond, will she get sick? Are almonds poisonous to cats? Are almonds a healthy food for cats? If my cat eats an almond, should she go to the vet? Do almonds cause health problems in cats? Can cats eat almonds instead of meat?
Keep reading, because we have the answers you’re looking for. In this article, you’ll find out all about almonds and the effect they could have on your cat.
Can Cats Eat Almonds?
Cats can eat sweet almonds, in the sense that one or two of them won’t do your cat any harm. Sweet almonds, the kind that are usually sold for snacks or cooking ingredients, are not directly toxic to cats. Your cat will be fine if she steals an almond or two while you’re not looking, but you shouldn’t make a habit of letting her eat them. She won’t be able to digest them properly and won’t get much nutritional benefit, but she probably won’t experience any negative physical consequences.
Cats who eat larger quantities of almonds might have a few problems. While they’re not poisonous, they’re not really digestible either. Eating things she can’t digest won’t be fun for your cat. At the very least, she’s likely to experience some indigestion. At worst, she might vomit or suffer from a bout or two of diarrhoea. A lot of vomiting and diarrhoea can cause dehydration, which is something to avoid in cats. Please note, though, that this applies only to sweet almonds.
Have you ever seen a a crime show where the detective comments on the smell of bitter almonds around a corpse? I think this is where the common misconception that all almonds contain cyanide comes from. In fact, most of the almonds sold for consumption don’t contain more than a tiny trace of the notorious poison.
Bitter almonds, on the other hand, can be extremely toxic. Bitter almonds contain a substance called amygdalin. When consumed, this breaks down into cyanide compounds. You’re unlikely to pick up a packet of bitter almonds by mistake, as they’re typically only available from specialist suppliers.
Bitter almonds are sometimes eaten as a health food or an alternative medicine. It is not in my remit to comment on their effectiveness as a treatment for anything, but I can tell you that eating even a handful of bitter almonds can be harmful or fatal. It takes about ten bitter almonds, consumed at one sitting, to kill a human being. While we’re able to process small amounts of cyanide, larger quantities are fatal. For a cat, a fatal dose would be much lower. They are far smaller than us, and a single bitter almond could be deadly. Fortunately, this is an unlikely scenario. Most people don’t have bitter almonds in the house, and those who do won’t be feeding them to the cat.
Can Cats Eat Other Nuts?
While your cat would probably not be harmed by eating a sweet almond, there are other nuts that are more dangerous. Walnuts in particular are very bad for cats. I believe they’re more toxic to dogs, but regularly eating walnuts can harm cats too. The accidental consumption of one or two might only cause an upset stomach, but if a cat routinely gets into your walnut stash she can start to suffer from an inflammation of the pancreas. In severe cases, her kidneys might fail.
I’ve seen warnings around macadamia nuts, although these are more of a risk to dog than to cats. Even so, since there is no benefit to cats from eating macadamias, it’s best not to let them try. Hazelnuts are not known to cause poisoning, but as with almonds they are not great for the feline digestive system.
You probably know that dogs love peanuts and peanut butter, and you may have wondered whether the same goes for cats. Peanuts are safe enough for your cat, but they’re indigestible and don’t provide any real benefits. As with almonds, though, you don’t need to worry too much if your cat takes a lick of peanut butter or nibbles a dropped peanut.
Nuts for snacking are often salted or given a coating of flavouring and spices. Cats should not eat these. Salt is bad for cats and flavourings may contain ingredients that are toxic.
Can Cats Live on Nuts?
We’ve established that cats won’t be poisoned by nuts. Most people know that nuts are high in protein, something that’s vital for felines. This leads a few people to wonder whether cats could eat nuts instead of meat, either for ethical reasons or to save money. Could a cat live on nuts?
The answer is an emphatic “no”. Being a vegetarian or a vegan is absolutely fine for humans: we’re naturally omnivorous, and with care we can enjoy a healthy and varied diet that’s entirely plant-based. This is just not possible for cats. A cat is an obligate carnivore, unable to obtain the nutrition she needs from plant-based foods.
There are certainly vegetarian and vegan cat foods on the market, which contain nuts and other forms of vegetable protein. Do not give these to your cats. I’ve seen vets get quite irate at the mere idea of a vegan cat. Cats simply can’t live on vegetable protein. Meat is what they can digest. It contains nutrients that are vital for a cat’s
well-being: cats’ nerves, circulation, eyesight and even mental status can be impacted by long-term adherence to a vegetarian or vegan diet. If this is a serious problem for you, I would honestly suggest rehoming your cat and getting a rabbit or a rat instead.
I have met one healthy “vegan” cat. He was an indoor-outdoor cat. His owners managed not to notice that he was quietly supplementing a plant-based diet from the local wildlife, and occasionally by ducking into the neighbours’ houses to raid their cats’ bowls for meat-based food. Eventually his owners gave up and let him move in next door.
My Cat Ate Nuts! What Should I Do?
In most cases, you don’t really have to do anything except keep an eye on her. One or two nuts, even walnuts or seasoned nuts, will probably not harm you cat in the long-term.
Monitor your cat to make sure she isn’t showing any symptoms. She may be sick or have an episode of diarrhoea; this is not too concerning, but if it persists you’ll need to consult your vet. Just make sure she has plenty of clean, fresh water to drink, as she’ll probably be a little dehydrated.
My big concern would be flavourings and seasonings. Salt can make your cat dehydrated. Flavourings often contain ingredients that are really not good for cats, such as powdered garlic or onion. These are outright toxic to felines. With one or two seasoned nuts, though, the amounts will probably be small enough not to cause any problems.
As a general rule, I would strongly discourage people from giving “people food” to their cats. My British Shorthair kitties have always got cat treats specifically made for felines. In hot weather, I do offer chopped cucumber or cantaloupe melon chunks — there’s no nutrition in them, but they do provide fluid. My British Shorthair tom gets very excited about melon for some reason. Keep the peanuts to yourself, however.