We have been conditioned to think that cats really love milk and can drink it freely, but the harsh reality is that cats and milk don’t get along, and this is true also for all milk-derived products like butter.
What happens if your cat ate butter?
There are many other things more dangerous than butter for cats, but a large amount of butter can also put your cat at risk.
So you shouldn’t feed this product to your cats and you should make sure they don’t have access to it.
What should you do if your cat eats butter?
Butter is not poisonous to cats, unlike other foods like chocolate or onions.
A cat eating butter in small amounts will be fine, but bigger amounts could cause stomach problems, poor digestion, vomiting, and diarrhea, so you should be prepared.
A big chunk of butter eaten at once or a solid habit of eating butter could also provoke serious health problems, so in that case, you should call your veterinarian and get their advice.
Are there benefits of eating butter for cats?
Butter can work as a lubricant and help push hairballs out of the system, which is why some cat owners willingly use butter for cat hairballs.
Watching your cat trying to get rid of hairballs can be frightening because it looks like they’re suffocating, but we need to remember that this is normal cat behavior and cats have been expelling hairballs without help for thousands of years.
Today there are many products designed to facilitate the expulsion and removal of hairballs, most of them can easily be mixed with your cat’s food to make them more appetizing, so there is actually no need to use butter for this purpose.
Butter is a common food in the kitchen, so when your cat suffers from hairballs it might be tempting to feed them butter on the spot rather than getting a prescription or looking for the right remover product.
However, apart from this benefit, butter can do your cat more bad than good, so since cats are bound to have hairballs very often throughout their life, feeding them butter regularly might compromise their health.
Is butter bad for cats?
Butter is not healthy for humans, so we can guess how unhealthy it can be for cats. The problem with butter is its fat content. In fact, butter is made almost completely of fats. A tablespoon of butter (14.2 g) contains 11.5 g of fats.
Butter is such a fatty food, that even if it contains other nutrients, like vitamins, those are completely overshadowed by the fat content and don’t make butter worth eating.
Despite its nutritional composition, butter is employed in a large variety of recipes and it’s often one of the main ingredients of our breakfast. However, we are omnivorous, while cats are strictly carnivores.
Cats take all the nutrients they need from other animals, including fats. Fat content in butter is very different from the fat content in meat, and if you had to choose, you should totally feed your cat the latter.
We might get swayed because our cat licks butter and seems to enjoy it, but cats are curious creatures and would taste and eat most of what they see us consume. That doesn’t make all of our food good for them.
We can compare butter with a very unhealthy human snack. It’s not that cats cannot eat it, but it would be better if they didn’t. Just like what would happen if we ate junk food for a prolonged period of time, even cats could have long-term damage from eating butter.
Cats and butter cannot work together because cats are naturally lactose intolerant. Or better, they grow up to become lactose intolerant and butter is part of the dairy family, which means it’s full of lactose (milk sugar).
Kittens can digest their mother’s milk and other dairy products because they produce lactase, which is the enzyme needed to digest dairy. Once a kitten is weaned, the body slowly stops producing lactase and from that point on cats cannot digest dairy anymore.
Getting your kitten used to eat butter can be risky because once your cat acquires a certain habit it’s hard to get rid of it.
A light intolerance can provoke episodes of vomiting and diarrhea in your cat concomitantly with each ingestion of butter, but a strong intolerance, a lactose allergy, or regular consumption of lactose can make your pet really sick and compromise their health.
Indoor cats are more at risk of developing obesity from eating too much fat because of their inactivity, but outdoor cats aren’t immune to this risk either if they regularly eat butter and other fatty foods that are not meant to be part of their diet.
The average cat’s diet should be mainly animal protein, with just a few carbs and fats. Not only butter is poor in proteins, but its fat content is in its purest form, which means it has even fewer benefits for your cat than other types of fat.
Overweight cats might look cute and funny, but they grow increasingly debilitated. Obesity can lead to heart, liver, pancreas, bones, and urinary diseases. Being unable to move around, run, or play as they used to might also make your cat depressed.
Pancreatitis is also among the consequences of obesity. This disease has strong disabling effects on cats and can greatly shorten their lifespan, or even prove lethal.
The pancreas in cats is a small but fundamental organ that mainly carries out two functions: regulating blood sugar levels and releasing the enzymes needed for the digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
The exact causes of pancreatitis are unknown, but it’s often theorized that a diet rich in fats, ingestion of toxins, or physical trauma might be among the causes.
When the digestive enzymes are released within the pancreas instead of reaching the intestines, the pancreas starts eating itself and becomes inflamed.
When the cells responsible for regulating blood sugar are damaged or destroyed, pancreatitis can often provoke feline diabetes.
Pancreatitis is a serious and often lethal condition, because the symptoms are often nonspecific, for example, lethargy and lack of appetite, which means it may be hard to get a diagnosis in time to save the animal.
This is why it’s important to keep your cat on a healthy diet poor in fats and to have them checked regularly, especially as they’re going into old age.
Feline diabetes is a condition where the pancreas produces a reduced amount of insulin, or cannot produce insulin at all. This hormone is needed to regulate blood sugar, which is what gives the cell energy.
High amounts of sugar in the blood for a long period of time can cause serious damage to the organs and even cause the death of the animal.
As of now, there is no cure for feline diabetes, but it can be managed with medications for the rest of the animal’s life. Cats affected by type 1 or 2 diabetes, if treated properly can still live for many years.
Some cats might, at some point, not need insulin treatment anymore. This is called ‘remission’, which is more common in type 2 diabetes. However, even in this case the cat should be monitored and kept on a low-carb diet.
Can cats eat butter?
Cats can eat butter, but they shouldn’t. Just like humans can eat junk food despite it being unhealthy for us, butter is not a good addition to your cat’s diet because of its rich fat content.
Butter is a dairy product, which means it’s full of lactose and cats are lactose intolerant. This means that when cats eat butter, there’s a high chance they will feel sick and show symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.
On top of that, regular ingestion of butter can make your cat overweight, opening the door to a series of disabling diseases such as pancreatitis and diabetes, which require expensive treatments and can also be fatal.
Butter has no nutritional value for your cat, and even if it’s a good lubricant that might help with hairballs, there are tons of other products designed specifically for that purpose that won’t hurt your cat.
Can cats eat vegan butter?
Cats won’t benefit from vegan products the same way humans do, because they’re meant to take all the nutrients they need from a strict meat diet.
While vegan butter might look like a healthier choice if your cat is already used to butter and you can’t seem to make them lose the habit, the ingredients in vegan butter might not be as healthy for them as you think.
Vegan butter may contain vegetables or oils that are high in fats, thus not being any better than dairy products.
The bottom line is that cats shouldn’t eat foods made for humans and they absolutely do not need butter, so rather than looking for alternatives to butter for cats, provide your cat with a healthy diet of meat, chicken, or cat food rich in unsaturated fats.
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