As cat parents, we often wonder just what people foods are safe to feed our beloved pets. If we give them something from our plates, will they get sick, or improve their diet and nutrition?
Some people wonder it’s okay for cats to eat nuts, in general, is an often-asked question. They’re good for us humans, so they could be good for our cats, right? One nut that pet parents often ask about is pine nuts. Can cats eat them? The answer is yes, if it’s minimal amounts. Read on if you want to know more about feeding your cat pine nuts.
What are Pine Nuts?
Despite the name, pine nuts aren’t nuts; they are seeds from pine trees. Usually, they come from the Mexican pinon, the Chinese nut pine, the Colorado pinion, or the Italian stone pine, but they may also come from other pines. You’re probably most familiar with them being used as ingredients in foods like pesto.
What Nutrients Do Pine Nuts Have?
Great, we know it’s okay for cats to eat pine nuts in tiny amounts, but are they getting anything beneficial from it? The answer is yes, though it’s only a bit as pine nuts are small. For example, pine nuts contain protein, which is vital to a cat’s diet. However, you wouldn’t want your cat to try to meet their protein requirements with pine nuts because of their high-fat content.
Pine nuts also contain micronutrients beneficial to cats, such as copper, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. They just won’t receive a lot of these micronutrients with the small amounts of pine nuts they’re allowed. But there are some minor benefits.
Are Pine Nuts Toxic for Cats?
No, pine nuts are not toxic for cats. However, if they eat many of them, it could cause digestive issues due to the high amount of fat pine nuts contain. Cats typically don’t (or, at least, shouldn’t) eat diets rich in fat, so the amount of fat here could make them ill. In fact, too much could lead to pancreatitis.
We should also note that you should always be careful in giving any nut to your cat. Cats have a higher risk of choking on nuts because they are small. They are also more prone to having them cause obstructions in the intestine, esophagus, or stomach.
What Happens if My Cat Eats a Lot of Pine Nuts?
Eating a lot of pine nuts can cause a variety of symptoms in your cat, primarily digestive. These can include upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Long-term effects can include becoming overweight or developing pancreatitis.
The fat content of pine nuts could also lead to what is known as hyperlipidemia. This is when too much fat goes into the bloodstream, which results in stomach discomfort and tenderness, and less appetite.
What Do I Do If My Cat Overeats Pine Nuts?
If your cat somehow manages to get their paws on a whole bunch of pine nuts, you should keep an eye on them and watch for any of the symptoms listed above. If you notice any, you should immediately take your cat to the vet to have them checked out. Also, be sure your pet is getting enough water as they will likely be dehydrated. Finally, make sure your cat doesn’t consume any more pine nuts until the symptoms disappear.
Are There Other Nuts That Are Safe for Cats?
A few other nuts are also safe to feed your cat (again, in limited quantities). These include:
- Plain, unsalted peanuts outside the shell
- Plain, roasted, shelled cashews
- Plain hazelnuts
What Nuts Shouldn’t be Fed to Cats?
The list of nuts you shouldn’t give your pet is longer than the approved list. These include:
- Old or moldy walnuts. Of course, you wouldn’t give your pet moldy food, but some nuts are simply prone to mold, and your cat could get into them. Old or moldy walnuts could cause seizures.
- Pistachios. These nuts are bad because of the high-fat content, which as we’ve discussed, can cause stomach upset or pancreatitis.
- Raw cashews. Cashews that are raw have a compound that is difficult for cats to digest, leading to stomach upset.
- Almonds. Not only do almonds tend to mold, but they are a significant choking risk.
- Pecans. Another nut likely to form mold that could cause upset stomachs or even seizures.
- Hickory nuts. Due to their size, they can be not only a choking hazard but can cause internal obstructions.
If your cat has a few pine nuts here and there, it’s no big deal. It’s only if they overindulge that you risk running into problems, most likely stomach issues. But eating too many pine nuts too often could lead to further issues such as obesity or pancreatitis. And, nuts, in general, can be iffy to give your feline friends due to the risk of choking or internal obstruction. As long as you’re careful how much you give them and when they eat them, your pet should be perfectly safe.