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Can Cats Eat Macadamia Nuts? Vet-Reviewed Health & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It’s common for pet owners to be curious when it comes to foods they can offer their pets. While it isn’t recommended for us to provide our cats or dogs with human food, it’s hard to resist when we’re snacking and our fur babies are so curious about what we’re enjoying. This can be true for some cats, although dogs are usually the worst of the two. Our little kittie friends can be quite inquisitive, nosey if we’re being honest, and some may want to be part of everything we do. Even eating.

Macadamia nuts are a treat lots of humans enjoy. When kicked back on the sofa, watching your favorite television show, macadamia nuts can be a light, healthy snack. But, if your cat crawls into your lap and tries to convince you to share, what should you do? Can cats eat macadamia nuts? Are they dangerous for them? Unfortunately, the answer to the question of whether cats can have macadamia nuts is simply no. 

It is well known that macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, but there is not enough research at the moment to say how cats may be affected, so it’s important to avoid giving them to your cat. Macadamia nuts can be quite harmful to your kitty pal. Let’s take a look at the macadamia nut and what could happen if you allow your cat to indulge in this treat.

What Is a Macadamia Nut?

Macadamia nuts on a table
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Macadamia nuts are the fruit produced from the macadamia tree. This tree is an evergreen that is indigenous to Australia but is now grown in other parts of the world. In the United States, Southern California and Hawaii are the two states best known for providing us with these buttery-flavored nuts. Considering their rarity in the states, the great taste, and the quality protein they provide, it is understandable why macadamia nuts are the most expensive nuts in the world. They are also the hardest to crack.

For humans, macadamia nuts provide a few health benefits. They are high in healthy fats, may help reduce inflammation, and even fight cellular damage. It’s when it comes to pets that you truly begin to see the cons associated with macadamia nuts come into play.

Why Are Macadamia Nuts Dangerous for Cats?

While science is still trying to discover why macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, what compound is to blame, and which is the toxic principle, it is even less familiar if the same applies to our felines. Some are suggesting the culprits are the constituents of the nuts themselves, or possibly various contaminants from processing, such as mycotoxins or other unknown causes.1 Either way, we don’t know why and how macadamia are toxic to dogs and at what amount they may harm your cat, so veterinary professionals urge cat parents to keep macadamia nuts well away from their kitties.

peeled macadamia nuts on a plate
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Nuts Are a Choking Hazard for Animals

Beyond the scientific reasons that are still being explored about macadamia nuts and the illness they cause to our pets is the choking hazard all nuts pose for our fur babies. While macadamia nuts are on the smaller side, it is still possible for your cat to choke on them. Nuts are hard. Yes, our kitties are carnivores and have the teeth to help them tear into meat, but nuts aren’t the same. Any food that can pose a choking hazard to your kitty should be kept away. No question! This is the safest way to keep your kitty happy and healthy.

What Happens When a Cat Eats Macadamia Nuts?

We cannot be certain, but the concern is that cats may have different signs when they eat macadamia nuts. One of the most common things you may notice is diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and lethargy

You may also notice your cat falling victim to trembling and an increase in body temperature. If your cat’s signs become severe, weakness, ataxia, or loss of balance, reluctance to stand, difficulty walking, and even collapse is possible. This is why you should speak to your vet if you think your cat has eaten macadamia nuts.

What to Do if Your Cat Eats Macadamia Nuts

You may feel the need to simply monitor your cat if they eat macadamia nuts and wait to see if signs present themselves. While this may be possible if your cat hasn’t ingested a lot of macadamia nuts, it’s still best to get into contact with your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will discuss the situation with you and help you determine whether your kitty should make a visit to the office for more advanced treatment.

vet checking bengal cat
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In Conclusion

As you can see, macadamia nuts aren’t a good snack option for your cat. If you want to enjoy a macadamia nut from time to time, keep them safely stored away from your kitty and tell your feline friend no if they try to convince you to share. If your cat wants to snack along with you, offer them cat-safe treats to enjoy while the two of your share downtime snuggling together.

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