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Can Cats Eat Pistachios? Vet Reviewed Health & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Cats Eat pistachios

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Pistachios are healthy human snacks that provide protein, fiber, potassium, carbohydrates, and vitamins. After a successful nationwide marketing campaign was launched in the early years of the 21st century, pistachios became more popular and accessible. While you’ve snacked on the salty nuts, you may have wondered, can cats eat pistachios? No, cats cannot eat pistachios. They’re not toxic to felines, but like most nuts, they’re not beneficial to a cat’s diet. You should also avoid feeding your cat pistachios in other forms as well. Because of the dairy, sugar, and fat in ice cream and whipped toppings, you should also avoid serving your pet pistachio pudding or pistachio ice cream.


Risks of Feeding Pistachios to Cats

As humans, we love to eat salty snacks like pistachios, but as responsible cat owners, we should always resist the urge to treat our cats to them. Here are some of the reasons why pistachios should never be given to your cat.

Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

High Fat Content

Like all nuts, pistachios are rich in fats. Though fats are primarily used as an energy resource, an excess consumption of fats leads to an increase in weight, which perpetuates obesity and other weight-related complications.

A risk associated with high intakes of fat is pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. Signs your cat has pancreatitis are often as follows:

Signs of Pancreatitis
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to drink water
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Pain, especially in the abdomen

Contact your veterinarian if you ever notice these signs in your cat.

Flavorings and Preservatives

Several years ago, pistachios were considered a staple of convenience stores and were usually dyed with a red powder to make them stand apart from other snacks. Thankfully, artificial coloring is no longer an ingredient in commercial pistachios. However, the nut’s popularity has led to several flavors and additives that are harmless to most humans but hazardous to pets.

In addition to the adverse effects of their high fat content, flavorings on pistachios can also upset your kitty’s stomach. Garlic and onion seasonings are common additions to pistachios, but they’re unsuitable for cats. Onion, garlic, and any plant in the Allium genus are toxic to felines. Also, some companies use preservatives to extend the nut’s shelf life, and your cat is more vulnerable to certain types of preservatives than humans. Sodium benzoate is a common preservative for numerous human foods and even some pet food, but it can be toxic to felines.

Choking Hazard

A pistachio nut poses a risk as a choking hazard, especially if your cat is an enthusiastic eater. The shell of a pistachio is also a very dangerous choking hazard for your cat. The shell may also injure your cat’s teeth if they bite onto it with enough force. At other times, a pistachio or parts of its shell may cause an obstruction elsewhere along your cat’s digestive tract. This may require surgical intervention.

Veterinarian examining teeth of a persian cat
Image Credit: didesign021, Shutterstock

Digestive Issues

Pistachios are high in dietary fiber, which might have a laxative effect for your cat. While a little fiber is no issue, excessive amount of fiber can lead to diarrhea. In addition, cats cannot digest pistachios well, and excessive consumption may lead to bloating and gassiness.


Pistachio is a nut that is very susceptible to harboring fungus, such as aflatoxins. This is because as the pistachio nut matures, its shell splits at the ends. The shell protects the pistachio kernel, and, once split, the pistachio is more likely to harbor certain species of fungi, such as the aforementioned aflatoxin. Cats are vulnerable to poisoning by the fungus if they ingest too many pistachios.

Top 5 Human Foods to Avoid Serving Your Cat

Although they’re less insistent than canines, cats will beg for food when they encounter a strong aroma. In small quantities, certain types of human food are not detrimental to cats. An unseasoned piece of chicken or beef can be a healthy addition to your kitty’s diet. Always check with your vet or feline nutritionist for advice before feeding your pet any homemade snacks. Several foods and drinks that are beloved by people are toxic to cats.

cat eating on floor at home
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock


1. Dairy Products

Cats sipping from bowls of milk is an outdated stereotype that does not highlight a cat’s lactose intolerance. Too much cow’s milk can cause diarrhea and vomiting in cats.

2. Chocolate

Theobromine is a compound in chocolate that’s toxic to cats and dogs. A tiny piece of chocolate like a chocolate chip may not cause an animal hospital visit, but larger quantities can cause seizures, muscle tremors, or heart arrhythmias.

varieties of chocolate bar
Image Credit: Pixabay

3. Garlic, Onion, Chives, and Shallots

All of these ingredients are from the Allium family of plants and are highly toxic for cats. A small piece of these plants fed to your cat could cause an upset stomach, but more significant amounts can result in anemia and other health issues.

4. Caffeine

Many people depend on caffeine for energy, but the chemical is not suitable for cats. It can lead to heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and rapid breathing.

5. Alcohol

Although several of the previous foods we mentioned are less dangerous in small portions, alcohol can be hazardous to your cat in any amount. PetMd states that a tablespoon of alcohol can send your cat into a coma, and any more can cause death.

Cat-Safe Alternatives to Pistachios

If you have a cat that loves to snack with you and shows an interest in some of the foods that you eat, here are some cat friendly treats that you can give to your feline friend. Remember that all of these should be given in moderation and only with your vet’s permission.


It is VERY important to note that if your cat has any underlying health issues, medical diagnosis, or is on medication, then you should ALWAYS consult with your veterinarian before offering any of these ingredients to them.

Some Cat-Friendly Treats:
  • Boiled eggs
  • Pumpkin (pureed, steamed, unseasoned)
  • Blueberries
  • Apples, peeled
  • Cucumbers
  • Steamed, de-boned fish with no seasonings
  • Boiled chicken meat, shredded and de-boned
  • Other homemade treats that are cat-friendly
woman hang giving treat to a cat
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Final Thoughts

Although pistachios and other nuts are healthy additions to any human diet, they should not be on the menu for your cat. They aren’t nutritionally appropriate for our feline friends and also pose several short- and long-term health risks.

Alternatives to pistachios include commercial or homemade treats with feline-appropriate recipes. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian or a feline nutritionist if you have any doubts about your cat’s nutritional well-being.

Featured Image Credit: sunnysun0804, Pixabay

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