As with most nuts, pistachios aren’t toxic to cats. But that doesn’t mean they should be a part of their regular diet. While they offer many health benefits to humans and are tasty to boot, they are NOT a great treat for your cat.
Why Your Cat Shouldn’t Have Pistachios
Pistachios shouldn’t be part of your cat’s regular diet. Too many pistachios can cause some real problems.
- Digestive Upset: The high-fat content in pistachios, and other nuts, can send your cat’s digestive system for a loop. After eating pistachios, your cat may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Most of the time, these signs will only last for a day or two and require a little nursing care to get them feeling better. However, see your veterinarian if their digestive issues last longer than a couple of days or are severe.
- Obstructions: Pistachios are the perfect size where some cats will try to eat them whole without chewing. Eating too many whole pistachios (with or without the shell) can lead to obstructions in the stomach or intestine. Most of the time, these obstructions will need to be removed with surgery.
- Flavorings: You can rarely find pistachios that haven’t been flavored. Most of the time, they’re coated in salt, garlic, onion, or other seasonings. While these additional flavorings make them finger-licking good, they can be toxic to cats. Garlic and onion top the list of no-no’s for cats, and too much salt can also lead to severe problems.
Can Cats Eat Pistachios Found in Other Foods?
Pistachios are often included in other desserts and salads to boost their protein and flavor. Since they’re found in smaller quantities in these recipes, many cat parents may assume they’re safe. However, the pistachios are often not the problem here; it’s all the other ingredients.
Some common examples:
- Pistachio Pudding: A main component of pudding is milk, and even though a saucer of milk is the iconic food for cats, it’s not favorable. Most cats are lactose intolerant. Not only that, but pudding contains a lot of sugar that can have messy digestive consequences for your kitty.
- Pistachio Ice Cream: Like pudding, the milk and sugar in ice cream aren’t good for your kitty, let alone the pistachios.
- Snack Bars, Granola, and Other Products: Again, the other ingredients in these products are as or more problematic than pistachios. Products that are high in sugar or fats will not do your cat any favors.
What Should I Do If My Cat Eats a Pistachio?
If your cat happens to eat a shelled pistachio here and there, it’s usually no big deal. Just monitor them for a couple of days for vomiting and diarrhea.
However, if your cat gets into your stash and consumes several pistachios in one sitting, a veterinary visit may be in order. Eating high amounts of fat can lead to a potentially serious condition called pancreatitis that requires veterinary care. Also, severe digestive upset can require veterinary care.
Health Benefits of Pistachios for Humans
Pistachios are packed with healthy unsaturated fats. These fats are important for reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They also contain minerals, potassium, and are high in fiber. On top of that, pistachios are a source of antioxidants and protein. They make great human snacks because they provide all of these nutrients and help keep you feeling full longer, preventing you from overeating.
You’re probably thinking, why wouldn’t pistachios make a great treat for your cat with all these health benefits?
A cat’s digestive system just isn’t designed to digest things like nuts, whole grains, etc. They are made to eat meat. So, even though pistachios are packed with healthy nutrition, a cat can’t reap the benefits as well as humans can. Feeding a cat nuts, such as pistachios, can actually cause digestive upset.
If you’re looking for a healthy snack for your feline friend, take a pass on the pistachios. While the occasional pistachio treat usually won’t hurt them, this isn’t a food you’ll want to give them for the long run. Instead, look for one of the many other healthy snack options out there for your cat.
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.