One of my biggest indulgences in life is to have a big loaf of freshly baked banana bread in the morning together with a big cup of coffee. Call me weird, but I love dipping banana bread in coffee.
I’m sure you could be a big banana bread fan as well. What about our cats? Just the other day, I chanced upon a post online about a cat owner who was feeding banana bread as a treat to the cats.
I’m all for spoiling our cats with good quality treats but I do draw the line when it comes to feeding my cats human food. Can our cats eat banana bread safely?
You should not be feeding your cat banana bread as it may contain traces of ingredients that can be toxic to your cat. Even if the banana bread is deemed to be ‘cat safe’, bread is high in sugar and carbohydrates which aren’t supposed to be in a cat’s natural diet.
Let us take a closer look at what goes into the baking of banana bread and how safe is it for our cats.
What Is In Banana Bread?
Banana bread has grown in popularity ever since the 1950s. Given how simple it is to bake and in addition to the cheap ingredients, no wonder it has been a hit in so many homes worldwide.
Here’s some banana bread trivia for you.
Banana bread is so globally recognized that there is even a day name ‘National banana bread’ day which falls on 23rd February.
Here are the ingredients that are commonly used to make banana bread:
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
At first glance, the ingredients might seem safe for your cat, please let’s take a closer look at those ingredients that can be toxic to cats.
I like my bread on the salty side and I tend to put more salt in my bread. The recommended amount of salt in most recipes ranges from 1/4 teaspoon of salt to just a pinch.
You can definitely use more salt if you like your bread saltier.
Cats do need salt in their diet just like most living things. Salt helps to regulate our blood pressure and keep our nerves and muscles functioning properly.
However, when it comes to our cats, the amount of salt that they require daily is actually very little.
We are talking between the range of 20mg to 40mg. Anything more than 40mg can result in salt toxicity in cats.
The put things in perspective, an average healthy human requires 2300mg of sodium daily.
That’s almost 60x more than a cat.
Salt Poisoning In Cats
Your cat can suffer from salt poisoning if it has consumed more than 40mg of salt which can happen when eating human food.
A pinch of salt alone has close to 300mg of sodium in it. That might not seem like much if you’re to spread it out across an entire loaf of banana bread.
But bear in mind that our cat’s bodies are a lot smaller than ours which makes their sodium tolerance a lot lesser. The tolerance can be even lower for kittens.
Symptoms of salt poisoning in cats include:
- Extreme thirst
- Lack of appetite
If your cat has eaten banana bread and is showing some of the above symptoms, get it to the vet right away.
In severe cases, too much sodium in your cat’s body can be fatal.
Flour And Sugar
You can’t make bread without flour and sugar. These two ingredients are basically the cornerstone of most baked goodies.
Flour and sugar by themselves are not toxic to cats but they contain carbohydrates which can lead to unnecessary health problems in cats.
Cats are obligate carnivores which means that they are pure meat eaters and do not need any plant matter in their diet.
If your cat is on a commercial diet which is basically wet or dry cat food, there usually is some amount of carbohydrates in there.
I would strongly advise against feeding your cat dry food or kibble as the carb content is a lot higher as compared to wet food. Dry cat food also contains a lot of other ingredients that aren’t healthy for cats.
In general, dry cat food is just bad for cats.
Too much carbs in your cat’s diet can lead to health problems like feline obesity, feline diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
One slice (60g) of banana bread has about 33g of carbs in it. That is just too much carbs for your cat to consume. And downing a slice of banana bread is doable for most cats if they like the smell of it.
Similar to flour and sugar, butter is another ingredient that is commonly used in large quantities in baked goods.
Although butter does not contain carbs and sugar, it has a very high-fat content. Cats do require some amount of fat in their diet but it should be from a meat source rather than a dairy product. There are many cats that love the taste of butter due to the high animal fat content.
Excess fat in your cat’s diet can also cause the same health problems as having too much carbs and sugar.
If your vet feels that your cat needs a bit more fat in its diet, you can try feeding a fattier meat source like beef or lamb.
Some cat owners even give their cats fish oil supplements but make sure you check with your vet first to get a recommended dosage.
Butter Has Lactose
Butter is basically a dairy product as it is made from animal milk. This means that it contains lactose and the bad news is, most cats are lactose intolerant.
Cats lose their ability to digest lactose after their kitten phase. This is because the body knows that after a certain age, kittens no longer need their mother’s milk for nourishment.
Some cats can be really sensitive to lactose which can cause vomiting and explosive diarrhea.
There was once when my cat drank some milk from my cup and a couple of hours later, his litter box resembled a war zone.
I still shudder to this day when I think of the stench and sight.
So unless you enjoy cleaning up cat diarrhea and vomit, please do not feed your cat any form of dairy products.
Vanilla extract is also a very common ingredient that is used for baking. It is made from vanilla beans and is used for flavoring.
Vanilla isn’t considered toxic to cats but vanilla extract contains alcohol which is very toxic to pets.
If your cat were to lick the vanilla extract straight from the bottle, there is a very high chance of getting alcohol poisoning.
If the vanilla extract has already been mixed in the dough and baked, the alcohol should have already evaporated.
But if it is my cat’s life and health on the line, I wouldn’t want to take any chances.
Is Banana Poisonous To Cats?
One of the main ingredients that is used for banana bread is of course bananas. Bananas are not toxic to cats but too many bananas in your cat’s diet can cause can lead to weight gain due to the high sugar content.
Bananas are also high in potassium which can increase the acidity of your cat’s blood that can prevent the heart from functioning properly.
Why Do Cats Love Bread?
I know of cat owners who call their cats a bread bandit due to their love for bread. Word on the street is that some cats like the smell and taste of yeast which is used in some breads.
Certified cat behaviorist Dr. Marci Koski explains that some cats might have a thing for bread as it has a nutrient that isn’t available or sufficient in their current diet.
What Can Cats Eat?
Cats are first and foremost carnivores which means that 99% of their nutrients should come from meat. The closest diet that can satisfy this requirement is a raw meat diet.
I understand that many cat owners are rather apprehensive about feeding their cats raw diet. I felt that way too before I started this diet on my cat and it transformed him from a sick cat with FELV to one that is strong and healthy today.
Is Banana Bread Healthy And Safe For Cats?
I wouldn’t rate banana bread as being healthy and safe for our cats. It makes for a delicious snack for us humans but it contains too much carbohydrates, fat and sugar for cats. Furthermore, other ingredients like salt and vanilla extract can be toxic if eaten in large enough quantities.
If cats eat banana bread in very small amounts, it should not pose any health risk. Just be careful if your cat has a habit of gulping down human food without reservation.