Why Cats Shouldn’t Eat Peanuts & When to Worry if they Do


Cats should not eat peanuts in any form. Although peanuts aren’t toxic to cats, it can cause healthy issues, especially if ingested in large amounts or frequently, or if eaten with the shell on.


Some of the reasons cats shouldn’t eat peanuts are:



Although it’s rare, cats can have allergic reactions to peanuts. The allergic reaction may be subtle at first, you may not even notice it. An allergy will become more severe, the more your cat is exposed to it, so a peanut allergy can be deadly, or become deadly over time. But you won’t know if your cat is allergic to peanuts, and how severe their reaction will be until they eat peanuts. So it’s best not to risk it and keep your cat away from peanuts.




Cats are carnivores, and their bodies are built to digest meat. They can digest plant proteins and higher levels of fats, however, it will likely still cause indigestion. They may experience bloating, gas, stomach pains, diarrhea, or vomiting. None of which are enjoyable for your cat. They can’t reach for the Pepto Bismol when experiencing these symptoms, they simply must suffer through them.




Peanuts are naturally high in fat and a high-fat diet can lead to weight gain and obesity. There are many health complications that can come along with an overweight cat, such as diabetes, liver failure, pancreatitis, and several other issues that lower the quality of your cat’s life.




Many peanuts have flavouring on them, some of which can be toxic to your cat, such as high levels of salt, onion powder and/or garlic powder. There may also be other spices and herbs that aren’t necessarily toxic, but can cause severe distress, such as cayenne pepper.




Peanut shells cannot be easily digested. If your cat has access to shelled peanuts and they ingest a shell, or portion of it, the sharp pieces can damage their esophagus or digestive tract. A large enough piece of shell can even cause a blockage in their intestinal track, which can be life-threatening and will more than likely require surgery to remove.





Peanuts are not toxic for a cat to eat. However, peanuts may contain small doses of ingredients that can be toxic. You don’t want to run the risk of your cat eating enough peanuts to cause toxicity or to consume small amounts of peanuts over time and it potentially leading to bigger health issues down the road.


Some of the ingredients often found on peanuts can be toxic to cats:



Salt can be toxic to cats in higher doses, and even a small amount of salt can be toxic to smaller cats. According to Pet Poison Helpline, signs of salt poisoning may be:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Incoordination
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma


Although it’s unlikely your cat will eat enough salted peanuts to consume a deadly amount of salt, it’s best best to keep the salty snack away from them.



Alliums are onions, garlic, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives; they’re toxic to cats. Powdered garlic and onion are much more potent, and peanuts are often seasoned with garlic and/or onion powder.



Peanuts are often grown in warmer and more humid climates, which can contribute to the growth of fungus. That fungus can produce aflatoxin, which is a toxin. Aflatoxins at higher levels can cause illness, liver damage, and death in cats (source).





Given all the potential risks involved with cats eating peanuts, it’s best not to feed your cat peanuts, even as a treat. There are so many treats on the market, specifically made for cats and their digestive system, that it’s best to avoid human foods when giving your cat a treat every once and a while.

Cat eating treats







Your cat will likely eat peanuts because of their salty coating. Your cat doesn’t understand what is and isn’t healthy for them, and just like us, they eat things that taste good but don’t make them feel great after. It’s up to the owner to keep foods that aren’t ideal for a cat to eat, and may cause indigestion or other health issues, out of their reach.


It’s uncertain why cats eat things that likely don’t taste good to them, such as peanut shells. It could be that they like the texture of the shells or the crunch of the un-salted peanuts.


Your cat may also be eating something they wouldn’t typically eat in the wild, such as peanuts or peanut shells, because of an eating disorder called pica, which can affect cats. They may eat non-food items out of boredom, stress, because of a lack or deficiency in their diet, or due to an underlying disease.


If your cat is constantly trying to eat items they shouldn’t, talk to your veterinarian to see if there are any underlying issues that need to be addressed.





Cats should not eat peanut butter, because of all the risks outlined in this article. Peanut butter can also be even higher in fat, due to added vegetable oils and trans fats. It’s also high in sugar, which is not good for your cat and can also contribute to weight gain.


If you’d like to understand all the reasons your cat shouldn’t eat peanut butter, even as a treat once and a while, check out this article.





If your cat has eaten a small number of peanuts, there’s likely nothing to worry about. If you’ve left out a bag of peanuts with shells or salted/flavored peanuts and it appears your cat over-indulged in them, it will be important to keep an eye on your cat and watch for any obvious symptoms that something is wrong. If they’re experiencing any diarrhea, vomiting, or any other behavioural changes, contact your veterinarian.


It will be immediately important to ensure, if they’ve eaten a peanut with the shell on, that they’re not choking on the peanut shell. If they’ve eaten several peanut shells, contact your veterinarian. You want to be aware of any signs of a blockage and react quickly if your cat shows signs, as an intestinal blockage can be life-threatening.


Your cat can have a fatal reaction to peanuts, so watch for signs of an allergic reaction in the first couple of hours after them consuming the peanuts. Those symptoms will be very similar to how allergic reactions appear in humans and may be:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Irritated eyes
  • Swollen paws


Call your veterinarian if you’re noticing any of those symptoms. Do NOT give them human allergy medications in an attempt to relieve their symptoms; talk to your veterinarian first.


And rush them to a vet clinic immediately if you see signs of anaphylaxis:

  • Struggling to breath
  • Acting lethargic
  • Having a seizure


If your cat seems fine in the hours following them eating peanuts, it’s important to continue keeping an eye on them in the following days.



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