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Can Cats Eat Cashews? What You Need To Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Dogs Eat Cashews

Nuts are filled with protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are considered a healthy addition to the human diet and we are encouraged to eat more of them throughout the week. However, cats are obligate carnivores, which means that their diet, in the wild, would consist solely of meat. They would get all of their protein and other nutrients from meat sources and certainly wouldn’t eat cashews. A quick glance at the ingredients list on a packet of cat food is a clear indication that domesticated cats do get at least some of their nutritional requirements from other sources.

Cashews are not toxic to cats and can be eaten in small quantities, but because they are high in fat and calories, they should only be given occasionally. What’s more, large quantities of any nut can cause diarrhea and may even lead to pancreatitis.

Can Cats Eat Nuts?

Nuts are highly nutritious and are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is especially beneficial to joint health because it has anti-inflammatory properties. And, because it is a fat, it also helps promote good skin and coat health in felines. Different nuts do have different ingredients and different nutritional levels, but most are considered healthy for cats.

Cat eating cat food with some water added
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

What Nuts Are Poisonous to Cats?

Macadamia nuts are considered toxic to cats. The exact form of toxicity is unclear, but cats should not be given macadamia. Although not nuts, grapes, raisins, and avocados are also toxic, and it is unclear exactly why these cause toxicity.

Can Cats Eat Cashews?

While your cat should not be given macadamia, cashews are not considered toxic. If your feline friend steals one or two off your plate, you should not be too concerned.

Why You Should Avoid Cashews

While the nuts are not toxic, however, they are high in fat and fiber. If your cat is not used to high-fiber, high-fat foods, ingredients like cashews can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Therefore, do not feed too many and start with a small amount before potentially building up to one or two at a time.

Cashews are naturally high in sodium, even if they are plain and unsalted. Too much sodium in a feline diet can cause dehydration. Dehydration is already a concern for cats because many will not naturally take to drinking water directly from a bowl.

Although they are a soft nut compared to the likes of almonds and peanuts, cashews are still a potential choking hazard to cats. If your cat doesn’t grind the nut down thoroughly before swallowing, it can become lodged in the throat and cause choking.

Image Credit: Michael_Luenen, Pixabay

How To Prepare Them

If you are going to feed cashews to your cat, there are several steps you can take to minimize risk and reduce the potential downsides. Ensure that you buy unsalted, soak the cashews and drain the water to get rid of some of the sodium, and break each nut into at least four or five pieces to reduce the risk of choking.

You should avoid feeding processed and flavored foods to cats, including flavored or salted nuts. All types of processed nuts are higher in salt while some potential ingredients like garlic and onion are also toxic to your feline friend.

Healthy Alternatives to Cashews

Cashews are not toxic, but they are fattening, can cause diarrhea, and they are a choking hazard. If you want to share some human food treats with your cat, there are healthier alternatives, such as the following 6 foods:

1. Oily Mackerel

Can Mackerel
Image Credit: primorske, Pixabay

A fish-only diet is unhealthy for a cat because it can destroy the thiamine in your cat’s body. A thiamine deficiency can lead to a host of major problems such as neurological conditions and convulsions. However, as an occasional treat, oily fish like mackerel or tuna is good for them. These are packed with omega fatty acids, helping maintain good eyesight, healthy joints, and a responsive brain.

2. Cooked Chicken

Your cat is a carnivore. In the wild, it would eat only meat and animal products and get all the nutrients needed from parts like the beak, feet, feathers, and organs, as well as their prey’s stomach content. They might occasionally eat grass or some green leaves to aid with digestion, but that’s it. Chicken is a good appropriation of what your cat would eat in the wild. While it wouldn’t be cooked, cooked meat is free from bacteria.

3. Bananas

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Bananas are another treat that should only be fed in small quantities because of their high sugar content. If your cat likes banana, though, it is easy to feed and an inexpensive human food treat.

4. Strawberries

Strawberries are small, juicy, and packed with antioxidants. If you check the ingredients of a lot of dry and some wet food, you will usually find a good selection of berries like blueberries and strawberries. Feed sparingly but do so knowing that you could be preventing the onslaught of some cancers and slowing the aging process.

5. Carrots

Carrots are another ingredient commonly found in dry cat food. They get their orange color from the beta-carotene that they contain, and this antioxidant converts to vitamin A, which is an important part of a feline diet. Ensure the carrot is cooked and chopped up small to prevent choking.

6. Oatmeal

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Oats contain protein, fiber, and iron. They do not pose a choking hazard and, as well as being a safe snack, oatmeal is found in shampoos, conditioners, and topical skin creams for cats because of its colloidal benefits.

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is most often made from a combination of peanuts, sugar, salt, and other ingredients. While the peanuts themselves are not toxic to cats, the high levels of sugar and salt found in peanut butter is not good for them so this food should be avoided, although it won’t be toxic if your cat does steal a small amount from your plate.

Can Cats Have Bananas?

Although they are sweet and should only be fed in small amounts, bananas are a good treat for cats. They are soft enough that they do not pose a choking hazard and some cats love the taste.

Banana Peels
Image credit: t_watanabe, Pixabay

Can Cats Have Cheese?

A lot of cats are lactose intolerant, which means that they should not be given any source of dairy product, including milk and cheese. If your cat eats a small amount, it will probably be OK. If it eats a large amount, monitor your feline friend and look for signs of intolerance, such as vomiting or diarrhea, and consult a vet if you witness any of these symptoms.

Cats & Cashews: The Bottom Line

Cashews are not toxic for cats. However, they are high in fat and fiber, which can cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and diarrhea. They also tend to be high in sodium, and too much sodium can cause dehydration. As such, while cashews will not directly harm your cat, they should be fed in very small amounts and infrequently. Some alternatives to cashews include strawberries and other berries, bananas, and oily fish like mackerel. Cooked chicken is another good alternative that more accurately replicates a cat’s diet in the wild.

Featured Image Credit: tookapic, Pixabay

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