A delicious, crunchy snack for humans, cashews are also packed with healthy nutrients. If you’ve ever wondered if your cat can eat cashews, know that they are not toxic but aren’t necessary either. Even though your kitty might enjoy a cashew now and then, there are other healthier snacks for your feline friend out there.
Should Cats Eat Cashews?
Even though cashews aren’t considered toxic to cats and have an impressive nutrient profile, that doesn’t mean your cat should eat many of them. Giving your cat a large number of cashews can have some harmful effects.
- Not the Best Type of Protein: Cats require a high protein diet, and cashews are high in protein, so they should be the perfect food, right? Not exactly. Plant-based protein sources, like nuts, aren’t as good for cats as animal-based protein sources. That’s because a cat’s digestive system just isn’t set up to handle the digestion of plants as efficiently as it can handle meat.
- High Fat: The majority of the fat found in cashews is considered healthy fat, but to a cat, it’s fat all the same. Again, a cat’s digestive system is made to digest lean meat, not a pile of fat. Giving your kitty too much fat can lead to digestive upset in the form of diarrhea and vomiting. More seriously, it can lead to obesity and pancreatitis.
- Too Much Salt: Raw unsalted cashews are better for your cat than the roasted, salted kind. That’s because too much salt can cause problems, especially in the long run.
- Choking Hazard: Finally, cashews are the perfect size for your cat to choke on, especially if feeding them whole. If a cat doesn’t thoroughly chew a cashew, it can become lodged in the throat or intestine, which would require an emergency veterinary visit.
How to Feed Cashews to Your Cat
If you’re a sucker for your cat’s begging face and you can’t resist giving them an occasional cashew, don’t worry. Treating your feline friend to one or two cashews every once in a while won’t hurt. If you start giving it to them all the time, that may cause some trouble.
If you have a cat that tends to inhale their food rather than chew it, it’s best to crunch or break up the cashews before you give it to them to prevent choking and intestinal blockages. You may consider sprinkling the crushed seed over food. Just be sure to supervise your cat while they eat cashews to ensure no problems.
Stick with unsalted varieties to help reduce your cat’s salt intake as well. It’s also essential to reduce the amount of cat food that you feed if giving your cat cashews regularly. This will help decrease the overall number of calories that they are getting to prevent weight gain. Just be sure that cashews aren’t taking over too much of your cat’s diet so that they do not lack any essential nutrients.
Can Cats Have Cashew Milk?
Cashew milk is becoming a popular choice as a dairy alternative, but it’s not meant for your cat. Cashew milk is still high in fat, and it just isn’t a necessary part of a cat’s healthy diet.
The Health Benefits of Cashews
Cashews are often referred to as a tree nut due to their similar composition. However, they are actually seeds of the cashew tree. They are a popular human snack or addition to many dishes due to their taste and nutrient profile. Cashews are good sources of the following:
- Protein: Cashews are very high in protein. They go head to head with meat when it comes to protein content. This makes them a great alternative for someone looking for plant-based sources of protein.
- Unsaturated fats: These are known as healthy fats and have been linked to decreasing the risk of heart disease.
- Fiber: Fiber is essential for digestive regularity and the feeling of being full to decrease the amount of food you eat.
- Minerals: Copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, and iron, to name a few, are all found in significant amounts in cashews. These minerals are important for bone and brain health, immune function, and energy production.
- Antioxidants: The antioxidant pair of polyphenols and carotenoids that are found in cashews help to reduce inflammation, boost immune function, and repair cellular injury for a longer, healthier life.
- Low in Sugar: While a significant source of many healthy nutrients, what cashews lack is sugar. This makes them an important snack for humans with diabetes or those who are watching their sugar intake.
As you can see, cashews are a nutritional superfood. They pack a lot of nutrients into a small package. However, they don’t necessarily provide all these benefits to our feline friends.
Cashews make great human snacks that are tasty, crunchy, and healthy. However, they are not the best snack option for our cats. Cats aren’t engineered to get a lot of healthy nutrition from cashews, and what they can get instead is a lot of fat and salt that they don’t need. If you decide to give your cat a cashew treat, make sure they only get one or two, and it only happens every once in a while.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.