Can Cats Eat Hazelnuts? What You Need To Know!
People know that nuts are a tasty and nutritious snack, packed with protein and ideal for a quick energy boost. If you share your home with a cat, you might wonder if it’s okay to share your nutty snacks as well. Well, it depends on what kind of nut you’re noshing on. For example, can cats eat hazelnuts?
Unlike some other nuts, hazelnuts themselves aren’t toxic to cats but there are still some concerns involved in feeding them to your kitty. In this article, we’ll talk about why you might want to think twice about offering your cat hazelnuts. If you love sharing snacks with your cat, we’ll also give you some safer options to consider.
Hazelnuts: Not Toxic But Still Potentially Problematic
Along with peanuts and (roasted) cashews, hazelnuts are one of the nuts that aren’t toxic to cats and dogs. So, if you drop a hazelnut on the floor while snacking and your cat snags it before you can, you don’t have to automatically worry. However, hazelnuts are probably not the best choice of long-term snack for your cat for a couple of reasons.
They’re High In Fat
First, hazelnuts—like most nuts—are high in fat. One serving of hazelnuts, about 10 nuts total, contains 9 grams of fat. For people, hazelnuts are considered a healthy fat but for cats, any high-fat food should be fed with caution.
Healthy adult cats can actually tolerate and even require a moderate amount of fat in their diet, which we’ll go into more detail about later on in this article. However, cats who consistently eat higher-fat diets and foods are at risk of developing a condition called pancreatitis, which is both painful and complicated to treat.
About half of adult cats (5-11 years old) in North America are overweight, a condition that among other things, reduces their life expectancy. Eating too much in general, but also eating too much fat, can contribute to a cat’s obesity.
While the occasional hazelnut probably won’t have too much impact on your cat’s health, over time they could be a cause for concern due to their fat content.
They’re a Choking Hazard
The other concern with a cat eating hazelnuts is more of an immediate issue. Because of their size and shape, hazelnuts present a potential choking hazard for your cat.
Cats are notorious for eating their food without bothering to chew it properly. A cat who’s trying to be sneaky and steal your hazelnuts is most likely going to try and eat them even more quickly, making choking a definite concern.
- Pawing at the mouth
- Coughing or gagging
- Trouble breathing
- Fainting or unconsciousness
Choking is a potentially life-threatening emergency for your cat so either contact your vet or take your cat to them right away if you’re concerned.
What About Other Nuts?
As we mentioned in the introduction, several types of nuts can be toxic to cats. Macadamia nuts are one of these, causing a variety of symptoms if ingested including weakness, vomiting, and trouble walking. Dogs are more commonly the victims of macadamia nut poisoning but it’s best to keep them away from your cat as well.
Almonds and walnuts are two other common nuts that you shouldn’t feed your cat. These nuts can cause symptoms ranging from digestive upset to more serious medical issues.
Again, even if a nut isn’t known to be toxic to cats, nuts aren’t very useful nutritionally to cats and it’s generally not worth taking a chance on feeding them.
Cat Diet Basics
Choosing Your Cat’s Food
Cats are carnivores by nature, meaning they must obtain all nutrients from animal rather than plant sources. Healthy adult cats usually do best on a diet high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and with a moderate amount of fat. A cat’s diet also must contain several essential amino acids, most importantly taurine.
Commercial cat foods, either dry or canned, must all be properly balanced and nutritionally sound, making them the easiest diet option for most cat owners. Your veterinarian can help you learn what to look for when picking a good cat food and how to interpret pet food labels to compare available foods.
Choosing cat food can be confusing, especially with the prevalence of fad diet trends like grain-free and raw food that may or may not actually be healthier for your cat. If your cat has special health needs, they may need a tailored diet.
Again, your veterinarian can help you navigate the wide world of cat nutrition. They can also assist you if you want to try out a homemade diet for your cat, ensuring you include all the vital amino acids that we mentioned earlier.
How Much To Feed
With obesity so common among pet cats, monitor your kitty’s food intake carefully. Your veterinarian can help you calculate the appropriate number of calories your cat should eat in a day. This amount will vary by the age and size of your cat, as well as how much exercise they get each day.
If you want to feed your cat treats in addition to their regular food, they should make up no more than 10%-15% of the daily calories.
- Lean, cooked meats
- Cooked egg
- Cooked or canned fish
- Small amounts of cheese
While hazelnuts aren’t toxic to cats, they are still high in fat and a potential choking hazard, making them not the best choice of human food snacks. Although hazelnuts are high in protein, as carnivores, cats aren’t able to properly utilize the nutrition because it comes from a plant source. Stick with feeding your cat a well-balanced, high-quality commercial or homemade diet in appropriate amounts. If you do feed your cat treats, keep the hazelnuts for yourself and offer kitty one of the other healthier options we mentioned.
Featured Image Credit: jackmac34, Pixabay