Cats can eat honey, however, because honey is high in fructose and glucose and a cat’s digestive systems is not built to process sugar, it’s not ideal for them to eat.
Because honey is harder for cats to digest, they may experience indigestion. If a cat is given honey to eat frequently, it may lead to weight gain, which has several health risks (outlined in this article). Honey will also be particularly dangerous to cats who have diabetes.
WHY CAT OWNERS MAY CONSIDER GIVING HONEY TO A CAT
Honey has been used by humans (and for humans) as a natural cure for several ailments. Honey is a natural product and has antibacterial properties. It’s been used by humans to help treat everything from lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol to treating acne and wounds.
The benefits humans reap from honey have cat owners wondering if honey can be used to treat their cat’s:
Although honey is safe for a cat to eat in small doses and perhaps to treat a cough for a couple days, it’s better to talk to your veterinarian to see if they have other suggestions. They will have more details about your cat’s health and can better advise if it’s safe to give your cat honey.
Honey may also be an option if you have a diabetic cat and their blood sugar has dropped dangerously low; it can help to quickly raise it. But again, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian first as there may be safer options.
Honey is often used to treat wounds on humans because of its antibacterial properties and its high viscosity, which creates a protective barrier and keeps the wound moist. This has cat owners wondering if honey would be beneficial to a cat’s wound.
Some vets actually do use honey to treat pet wounds and help fight off infection. If it’s a minor wound, it may be okay for you to treat it with honey, but give your veterinarian a call first, to ensure they agree with your approach and can advise you on how to monitor it to be sure it’s healing. You don’t want to be like this lady who put her cat’s health at serious risk.
Because your cat is likely to lick the honey off, if it’s on a part of their body they can reach, it would be important to bandage the wound. This will also require the right supplies and techniques to ensure your cat isn’t able to pull it off and that it’s not wrapped too tight.
WHY CATS SHOULDN’T EAT HONEY
If your cat is experiencing seasonal allergies and you’ve found honey has helped relieve your allergy symptoms, you may be considering giving your cat a small amount of honey to see if it helps. Talk to your veterinarian to double check, but also be aware of the potential risks associated with a cat eating honey.
1 – WEIGHT GAIN
Just as eating too much sugar is bad for humans and can lead to weight gain, which can then lead to all kinds of other health issues (such as diabetes), sugar can have the same impact on a cat. Honey is full of fructose and glucose and is high in calories. And if you think about the size of your cat’s body compared to yours, it becomes more obvious that just a small amount of honey each day can have a significant impact on their weight.
2 – INDIGESTION
Just as when you eat something you’re not used to eating, and maybe isn’t really meant to be digested by humans (i.e. Cheez Whiz), you probably have a bit of indigestion after. Because your cat is a carnivore by nature and their digestive system isn’t built to digest foods high in sugar, they may also experience indigestion after eating honey.
Although it’s not likely to be life-threatening, it will be uncomfortable for your cat and they may experience stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhea.
3 – BLOOD SUGAR SPIKES
If your cat is diabetic, it will be important to monitor their blood sugar levels. This is best done with an at-home feline glucose monitor or by your vet. Giving a diabetic cat honey can spike their blood sugar levels. This may be beneficial if their blood sugar is dangerously low, which is an urgent matter to address, but you don’t want their blood sugar to swing too far in the other direction either.
IS HONEY TOXIC TO CATS?
Honey is not toxic to cats. If you’ve found your cat with their head in the honey jar, there’s likely no reason to worry. You will want to keep an eye on them though and contact your vet if they’re vomiting, have diarrhea, or seem lethargic.
IS HONEY GOOD FOR CATS?
Honey is known to offer many health benefits to humans, so many people believe those benefits may cross over to our cats. However, there aren’t enough conclusive studies to say decidedly that honey is good for cats.
Based on the risks a high sugar diet has for a cat, it seems safer to assume that honey is not safe for a cat. The foods humans eat regularly and the way our digestive systems are built, are much different than a cats. So we can’t assume what’s good for us is also good for our cats.
Although a small amount of honey may have some benefits for your cat, there’s not enough evidence to prove those benefits.
DO CATS LIKE HONEY?
A 2005 study found that cats’ taste receptors can’t detect sugar. So they don’t taste sweet foods and therefore don’t crave and/or aren’t attracted to them (at least not for their sweetness). For that reason, giving cats honey to eat as a treat, isn’t really a treat to them. They would probably appreciate a meat-based treat more.
You may be wondering why cats love some of your sweet foods so much, if they can’t taste sweet flavors. Your cat is likely going after sweet treats, like ice cream, because of their high fat content, or because the food contains salt, smells good, or has a texture they enjoy.
If your cat is drawn to your spoonful of honey, it may be because they like the texture, or simply because they’re hungry. On a more serious note, if your cat is constantly trying to eat foods they shouldn’t, it may be due to an eating disorder called pica. They may eat non-food items or non-nutritional food they wouldn’t normally eat due to boredom or stress, or there may be a more serious underlying health issue. If eating food they shouldn’t is a regular occurrence, you should contact your veterinarian to be sure there isn’t a bigger issue.
CAN CATS EAT YOGURT WITH HONEY?
Cats should not eat yogurt with honey because most adult cats are lactose intolerant. So not only are their digestive systems working harder to digest the fructose and glucose, but they’re also trying to digest lactose without the enzyme lactase.
It’s likely fine if your cat does sneak a little bit of yogurt from the bottom of your bowl, but they may experience some indigestion, and it’s not a good food for them to consume regularly.
Be especially careful with your bowl of yogurt if it contains artificial sweeteners. Xylitol is toxic to dogs and there’s a bit of a grey area when it comes to cats. A study did find that xylitol did NOT induce toxic effects on cats, however, they only studied six cats. There weren’t enough breeds of cats or cats with varying health conditions studied for it to be conclusive that xylitol is not toxic to cats.
When it comes to artificial sweeteners such as xylitol, it’s better to be safe than sorry and keep it out of your cat’s tummy.
CAN CATS EAT HONEY NUT CHEERIOS?
Honey nut cheerios are not toxic to your cat, however, it’s not a good food for a cat to eat. Not only do they contain honey (and sugar and brown sugar syrup), which, as explained in this article, is not beneficial for your cat to eat on a regular basis, they also contain several other non-cat-friendly ingredients.
Cheerios are made from grains, making them high carb; not good for cats. Short term, they may give your cat indigestion. Long term, a high carb diet can lead to weight gain, and commonly, diabetes.
CAN CATS EAT HONEY-ROASTED PEANUTS?
Cats can eat honey-roasted peanuts, but they should not. For all the reasons that honey is not ideal for your cat to consume, as well as all the reasons they shouldn’t eat peanuts, which is covered in this article: WHY CATS SHOULDN’T EAT PEANUTS.
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