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Can Cats Eat Almonds? What You Need to Know!

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

almonds in a white bowl

Almonds are often considered a nutritious snack for humans. However, there are many misconceptions involving the nuts and their safety regarding cats. According to the ASPCA, the type of almonds sold for consumption in the U.S.A., which are “sweet almonds,” are not toxic to pets. However, they can lead to various problems, including diarrhea and upset stomachs. This is simply because they are not part of your cat’s regular diet, so the rich fats can easily cause stomach upset.

However, other types of almonds are toxic to cats. These include “bitter almonds,” which are different than “sweet almonds.” Bitter almonds are not typically sold in the U.S.A., though. If they are, they should be marked specifically as such because this particular type of nut contains cyanide.

Are Almonds Toxic to Cats?

almond milk in a glass near a bowl of almond nuts
Image Credit: LookerStudio, Shutterstock

Sweet almonds are not toxic to cats. These are the type typically sold in the U.S.A. for human consumption. Usually, if something is labeled as just “almonds,” then they fall into this category. These almonds do not contain any toxins of any sort; therefore, they are safe for cats to eat in small amounts.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should feed your cat almonds. While they do contain fat, which is something cats need, they may contain too much fat. This can cause significant problems if your cat eats too many almonds over a long period. For instance, pancreatitis can occur from too much fat in a cat’s diet, which can easily happen if they’re eating almonds all the time.

That said, some almonds are indeed toxic to cats. Bitter almonds include cyanogenic glycosides, which are natural toxins found in many plant seeds. While a bit of this toxin usually doesn’t cause a problem, it can cause your feline to suffer from something similar to cyanide poisoning. This can cause symptoms like dilated pupils, upset stomach, and hyperventilation. It can be deadly to felines unless they are given the appropriate medical treatment.

What Are the Downsides of Feeding Almonds to Cats?

almonds on white background
Image Credit: Mockup Graphics, Unsplash

While the usual almonds you find in the store are not toxic to cats, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be given to cats regularly. Many cats are not used to having almonds in their diet. This can cause digestive upset. Typically, this isn’t serious, and the symptoms often go away after a day or so. However, some cats can experience severe problems, which may require veterinary attention.

Usually, these symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. This is due to the type of fat found in almonds, which cats are simply not always equipped to digest properly. High levels of this fat consumption can lead to medical problems, like pancreatitis.

Furthermore, many almonds contain additives, such as salt. This small amount of salt usually isn’t a problem for people. However, cats are much smaller than humans. It only takes a comparatively small amount of sodium for them to start experiencing negative effects. The consumption of excess salt can cause various medical problems in felines, including sodium ion toxicosis. These problems may be made especially troubling given that many cats fail to drink the appropriate amount of water, which can only worsen these symptoms.

Almonds sometimes come with other toppings and additives as well. Not all of these are safe for your feline. For instance, chocolate is a common coating on almonds, which is toxic to cats.

What Happens If a Cat Eats Almonds?

cat_almond_pile_pixabay outside
Image Credit: ingridpomodoro, Pixabay

Typically, if a cat eats a small number of almonds, nothing will happen. However, they may have trouble processing a large amount.

That said, there is little nutritional value in almonds that cats need. Often, they can get vitamins and minerals from other sources. Cats can’t always process the vitamins in almonds well, anyway, since they are from a plant source. For this reason, it is typically better for them to get the protein and fat that they need from a meat source instead.

If a cat consumes too many almonds, then they may end up with digestive problems. Some cats may experience these negative effects with as few as two almonds. Therefore, it is generally recommended that you avoid feeding them any almonds, as it doesn’t take much for them to get sick.

Still, even if your feline accidentally ate a bunch of almonds, it probably isn’t going to be much of a problem. Almonds that are typically available at the store are safe for cats to eat, as long as they aren’t eaten in high amounts for an extended period. It is the prolonged consumption of almonds that is the problem.

Final Thoughts

Sweet almonds, the kind commonly sold for human consumption in the U.S.A., are safe for cats to eat. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they should eat them. Almonds don’t have many benefits for cats, and the high amount of fat can cause stomach upset. Many cats may get upset after eating only two almonds. Therefore, it is usually best to avoid feeding cats almonds at all.

If your cat accidentally eats an almond, you likely don’t have anything to worry about. Bitter almonds are the only type of almonds that contains toxins, but these are usually clearly labeled. Typically, you only find these almonds at specialty stores. Generic almonds are sweet almonds and are typically the ones eaten by people.

Looking for more tips on what your cat can eat? Check out:

Featured Image Credit: Mockupo, Unsplash

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