The nutritional benefits of nuts for humans are well documented, and walnuts are often recommended for their high levels of omega-3, ideal for decreasing inflammation and promoting good cholesterol.
However, this may leave you wondering – can cats eat walnuts? I certainly have found myself asking this question before, especially after finding out that many nuts are hazardous to our furry friends.
So in this article, I’ll explore all of the potential benefits and risks, giving you all the information you need about feeding your cat walnuts.
Can cats eat walnuts? If you’re looking for a quick answer to this question, it’s best to use caution and avoid feeding human foods to your feline companion – especially when it comes to walnuts. Feline bodies aren’t built the same as humans, and they struggle to break down food in the same way we do.
This is particularly true when it comes to plant matter, and foods with a hard shell like walnuts. However, it’s also important to know that it’s highly unlikely that feeding your cat a walnut will end with a trip to the veterinary ER. Keep reading to find out more about why walnuts aren’t recommended for cats, but also what to do if your cat does happen to eat a walnut.
Weighing Up The Benefits And Risks
Now you know that feeding your cat a walnut or two isn’t the best idea, let’s take a look at some of the benefits and risks.
The highly nutritious nature of walnuts means that they do carry some of the same benefits for cats that they do for us humans – so there may be some occasions where a vet recommends feeding your cat a walnut in a more digestible form.
These benefits include:
Supporting Your Cats Brain Health
Walnuts are exceptionally rich in Vitamin E and polyunsaturated fats, which work to reduce inflammation and improve memory.
Preventing Heart Disease
Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALAs) which have proven helpful in preventing the risk of death from heart disease.
Walnuts have a high level of antioxidants (more than any other nut!) which can be effective for boosting your cat’s immunity.
However, it’s also vital that you weigh up the risks before ever considering giving your cat a walnut.
The risks include:
As I already mentioned, cat digestive systems are not cut out for a lot of the plant foods we enjoy as humans – which includes nuts. This means that stomach irritation is one of the risks associated with cats eating walnuts, and it could lead to them experiencing pain, sickness, and diarrhea. Furthermore, walnuts are high in oil and fat which will also lead to stomach upset.
The high fat and oil content in walnuts can also lead to pancreatitis in cats, as it may cause the pancreas to become inflamed. Symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Sodium Ion Poisoning
Walnuts, like many other nuts, have a high sodium content which can prove problematic for cats. Experts say cat owners should avoid feeding their furry friends anything that has a high sodium content as it could put them at risk of sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of this type of poisoning can be life-threatening, with tremors, seizures, and organ failure.
My Cat Ate a Walnut, What Should I Do?
Reading about the potential risks of feeding your cat a walnut may have you worrying about what to do in a situation where they eat one. However, it’s important to remember how rare it is for a cat to ingest enough walnut to experience life-threatening effects.
If you find out that your little companion has eaten a walnut, keep an eye out for any of the side effects mentioned above, and be sure to take them to the vet if they have any symptoms of sodium ion poisoning.
Although I’ve cleared up this question, you might still have some questions about walnut-related foods and products. Here I answer some of the most common questions related to cats and walnuts:
Can Cats Eat Black Walnuts?
Black walnuts are a very specific variety, and one that has been known to be especially toxic for dogs and horses. Therefore, it’s understandable to wonder whether they are just as toxic for cats. Although black walnuts are not immediately toxic for our feline friends, they may cause some of the side effects associated with normal walnuts.
Are Walnut Shells Dangerous For Cats?
Walnut shells are tough and sometimes sharp which can make them a choking hazard for any pet. Furthermore, cats also find it hard to chew hard materials like walnut shells so it’s best to keep them away.
Can Cats Eat Walnut Cake?
Cats are curious creatures, and it’s not unusual for us to find them sniffing around our food. However, not only are the walnuts in walnut cake a problem for cats, the sugar, fat, and sweetening agents are not ideal for a feline diet either.
Can Cats Have Walnut Milk?
Due to the high levels of fat, oil, and salt in walnuts, walnut milk is not recommended for cats for the same reasons. Although the milk will be easier for them to digest, it still offers the same risks of abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Can Cats Have Walnut Butter?
Walnut butter is very high in fat and salt, which means your cat will be at risk of symptoms that can range from stomach pain to seizures, and conditions as serious as pancreatitis or sodium ion poisoning. Avoid walnut butter wherever possible and keep your cat happy and healthy.
Hopefully this article managed to answer any questions you have about cats and walnuts. Despite the range of nutritional benefits offered by walnuts (from better memory to preventing heart disease), it’s not recommended for you to feed them to your cat unless told specifically to do so by a vet.
It’s not worth risking the health of your treasured furry friend so always err on the side of caution when it comes to feeding human foods to pets.
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