It’s common knowledge that nuts provide a satisfying crunch and a healthy dose of protein, making them perfect for a on-the-go energy boost.
If you have a cat as a roommate, you may wonder if it is acceptable to feed it some of your nuts. What kind of nut you’re eating will determine the answer. Can a cat eat hazelnuts, for instance?
While hazelnuts aren’t directly toxic to cats, there are other nuts you should avoid giving your pet.
This article will explain why you should probably avoid giving hazelnuts to your cat. We’ll also go over some safer alternatives to consider if you regularly feed your cat table scraps.
Hazelnuts: Not Toxic But Still Potentially Problematic
Hazelnuts are not toxic to cats and dogs, like peanuts and (roasted) cashews. If you’re snacking on hazelnuts and your cat pounces on them before you can pick them up, that’s okay.
However, there are a few reasons why hazelnuts aren’t a good long-term snack for your cat.
They’re High In Fat
To begin, hazelnuts, like most nuts, have a high fat content. About 10 hazelnuts constitute a serving and provide 9 grams of fat. While many people see hazelnuts as a healthy source of fat, cats should be fed high-fat foods like these with caution.
We’ll go into more detail about why a moderate amount of fat is necessary for adult cats, and how they can tolerate it, below.
However, pancreatitis, which is painful and difficult to treat, can develop in cats who regularly consume high-fat diets and foods.
About half of North American adult cats (aged 5-11) are overweight, which shortens their lifespan for many reasons. Obesity in cats can be caused by both overfeeding and a diet high in fat.
Although a single hazelnut probably won’t harm your cat, their high fat content over time may be cause for concern.
They’re a Choking Hazard
A more immediate worry arises when a cat consumes hazelnuts. Hazelnuts are dangerous for your cat to eat because of their size and shape.
In general, cats have a bad reputation for not chewing their food thoroughly before swallowing. If a cat is trying to steal your hazelnuts, it is highly likely that it will try to eat them as quickly as possible before you catch it.
Whether it’s a hazelnut or something else, here are some things to look out for if you think your cat is choking:
- Licking their chops
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Difficulty in breathing
- Loss of consciousness due to fainting
If you are worried that your cat may be choking, you should call your veterinarian or rush your cat to the animal hospital immediately.
Potential Allergy-Related Health Issues
Feeding hazelnuts to a cat is risky because some felines experience adverse reactions to nut products. Symptoms of an allergy attack can range from itchy skin to nausea and vomiting to diarrhea.
Lack of Vitamins and Minerals
Unfortunately, hazelnuts are deficient in many of the nutrients that cats require. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins and minerals are all important parts of a cat’s daily diet.
What Do Different Studies Say about Cats and Hazelnuts
A new understanding of the connection between felines and hazelnuts has emerged after years of research.
Cats can safely consume hazelnuts in small amounts, as this food is not toxic to cats. The high fat content makes them undesirable in large quantities or on a regular basis.
Researchers from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine conducted the most recent study on cats and hazelnuts. Researchers concluded that giving hazelnuts to cats in moderation was fine.
Over time, cats who ate more than a third of an ounce of hazelnuts daily were more likely to experience gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting and diarrhea. They determined that two whole, shelled hazelnuts per day was the maximum safe intake for adult cats.
Kittens shouldn’t be given any kind of nut, including hazelnuts, because their immature digestive systems are more prone to problems after eating nuts.
Since cats need a balanced diet consisting of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, hazelnuts should only be given to them on rare occasions as a treat due to their high fat content.
Nuts, which can contain high levels of allergens, should be introduced to a cat’s diet with caution because some cats may be allergic to or sensitive to them, resulting in serious discomfort or even illness.
Do Cats Love to Eat Hazelnuts? (Survey Results)
According to a survey of 500 felines, hazelnuts are a popular treat. More than two-thirds of cats said they had tried hazelnuts before, and nearly two-thirds said they would eat more if given the chance.
Although hazelnuts are a favorite treat for most felines, their high fat content means they should be given only occasionally.
In addition, it’s important to find a variety of treats for cats because they can become picky eaters if they’re fed the same thing over and over.
Additional Precautions While Feeding Hazelnuts to Cats
It may come as a surprise to learn that cats, notorious for their picky eating habits, actually enjoy the occasional treat of hazelnuts. However, there are some safety measures that should be taken before offering hazelnuts to our feline friends as a snack.
1. Feed in Moderation
It is important to remember that even if your cat enjoys hazelnuts, too much of a good thing can be bad for it. Overfeeding can cause obesity in cats because hazelnuts have a higher fat content than most other treats and snacks.
Treats should be given to cats no more frequently than once or twice weekly; hazelnuts should be treated no differently.
2. Remove the Shells
Since cats can’t crack the tough shell of a hazelnut on their own, you shouldn’t feed them the whole thing at once.
Before feeding a nut to your cat, you should either break it into smaller pieces or soak it in water until the shell softens. This will prevent your cat from choking on a piece of shell or getting hurt while attempting to eat the treat.
3. Never Give Raw Hazelnuts
Raw hazelnuts can contain aflatoxins, which are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain molds and have been linked to serious health problems in cats if consumed in large quantities over time.
If you want to give your cat hazelnuts as a snack, roasting or cooking them first is the safest and healthiest option; avoid adding salt or spices, which could make your cat sick.
4. Monitor Your Cat
Finally, stop giving your cat treats, including hazelnuts, if you notice any unusual behavior. Your cat may need immediate veterinary attention.
We hope these safety measures will allow you and your pet to enjoy tasty treats like hearty little hazelnuts together.
What About Other Nuts?
It was mentioned up front that some varieties of nuts are harmful to cats. Macadamia nuts are one of these, and eating them can lead to a number of unpleasant side effects like nausea, vomiting, and difficulty walking. Although macadamia nuts pose a greater risk to dogs, you should still keep them out of your cat’s reach.
You also shouldn’t give your cat other common nuts like almonds or walnuts. The adverse effects of eating these nuts can range from mild gastrointestinal distress to life-threatening conditions.
Nuts aren’t very nutritious for cats, so it’s usually not worth the risk of feeding them even if they aren’t known to be toxic.
Expert Vet’s Opinion on Feeding Hazelnuts to Cats
Veterinarians from all over the country agree that feeding cats hazelnuts is safe. They stress, however, that nuts shouldn’t constitute even a minor part of your cat’s diet. Veterinarian Dr. Shayna Corbett from LA’s South Park Animal Hospital shared her thoughts on the matter:
In general, cats don’t have to avoid hazelnuts entirely. It’s a nice change of pace from their regular diet and can keep them entertained.
In the words of Dr. Shayna Corbett
Dr. Shayna Corbett elaborated on why only small amounts of nuts should be given to your cat:
Consuming an excessive amount of nuts increases the risk of becoming overweight. You can allow them to have one every once in a while without worrying about their health, but you shouldn’t make it a habit. She went on to stress the significance of selecting unsalted hazelnut varieties when feeding them to feline companions. The high sodium and sugar content of some of the salted and sweetened varieties may be harmful to their digestive systems.
For your cat’s safety, Dr. Corbett recommends breaking up any hazelnuts into smaller bits before giving them to your cat because “it’s not uncommon for cats to choke on large pieces of food like these.” She also stresses the importance of keeping a close eye on their feline companions while they snack on the nuts, in case a piece ends up in the wrong place, and of getting them to the vet quickly if they show any signs of distress after eating the nuts.
Dr. Corbett advises talking to your vet before giving your cat any new foods, including hazelnuts, so that they can recommend appropriate serving sizes based on your cat’s age and activity level. Finally, she emphasized the importance of a well-rounded diet devoid of extra fat in maintaining the health and happiness of our feline companions.
Cat Diet Basics
Choosing Your Cat’s Food
Carnivores like cats can only get the nutrients they need from other animals, not plants. Protein-rich, carbohydrate-limited, moderately fat-rich diets are recommended for adult cats to maintain optimal health. Taurine is the most important of several essential amino acids that should be included in a cat’s diet.
Most pet owners opt for the convenience of commercial cat foods, which come in both dry and canned varieties and are required by law to be nutritionally complete and balanced. Talking to your vet about what to look for and how to read pet food labels will help you find the best food for your cat.
It’s not easy to know what to feed your cat, what with all the conflicting information out there about whether or not grain-free or raw food is better for them. A specialized diet may be necessary for your cat if it has specific medical requirements.
Again, your vet can help you make sense of the many options for cat food. If you’re interested in feeding your cat a homemade diet, they can help you make sure you’re providing all the essential amino acids we discussed.
How Much To Feed
Because feline obesity is so prevalent, you should keep a close eye on your cat’s diet. Your vet can help you figure out how many calories your cat needs each day. This number will change depending on your cat’s age, size, and the amount of daily exercise they get.
Treats should not account for more than 10–15 percent of your cat’s total daily calorie intake.
You can give your cat other tasty treats besides hazelnuts, such as:
- Cured and trimmed meats
- Dried out egg
- Canned or cooked fish
- The Cheese in Miniature
Hazelnuts are safe for cats to eat, but they aren’t the best choice for human food snacks because of their high fat content and the risk of choking. Although hazelnuts are rich in protein, cats can’t make use of it because they are carnivores and can’t digest plant-based foods.
Always keep your cat on a healthy, balanced diet of commercial or homemade food. Keep the hazelnuts for yourself and give your cat one of the other healthier options we mentioned if you decide to feed your cat treats.