Not many of us can resist the smell and taste of freshly melted butter. And that includes our cats as well.
You might have left your pancakes or waffles drenched in melted butter and maple syrup sitting on the counter. Only to see your cat happily licking up the pools of butter to your horror.
What happens when cats eat butter?
Is it safe for them?
Time to butter up and read on for the answer.
Can Butter Kill Cats?
No, butter won’t kill cats unless they have a very serious existing allergic reaction to anything containing dairy or lactose. Some butter is ok for your cat but don’t let your cat eat too much of it as most cats are lactose intolerant and can’t handle dairy products well.
Furthermore, butter has a very fat content which and a cat’s diet should not contain a large portion of fatty foods. Too much fatty food can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tummy upset and weight gain thus a higher risk of getting feline diabetes.
What Is In Butter?
Butter is considered a dairy product and is usually made from cow’s milk. You can also find butter made from the milk of other mammals like goat and sheep.
It has a very high-fat content with some protein.
Butter is made by churning milk until a firm consistency is formed. It is solid when cold and tends to melt at room temperature.
Can Cats Lick Butter?
Yes, cats can like butter as it is not poisonous or toxic to cats. While many cats are lactose intolerant, kittens have the ability to consume more milk than adult cats. This is because kittens have the enzyme to digest their mother’s milk but tend to lose this ability as they get weaned off after a few months.
If you have a kitten and are thinking if can kittens eat butter? Yes, they can and can handle it better than most adult cats. But your kitten should be getting its calories from high-quality cat food instead and not butter.
For cat parents that have adults cats who can consume dairy products without any discomfort, there’s a good chance that your cat isn’t lactose intolerant.
Butter actually contains very little lactose as compared to raw milk. Hence even cats with lactose intolerance won’t have any issues eating small amounts of butter without going ballistic in their litter box.
Why Do Cats Lick Butter?
Cats love foods that are high in fat content. Don’t be surprised to see your cat not only lick butter but also try to take a bite out of your banana bread or cheese platter.
Most cats will happily lap a bowl or saucer of milk if presented the opportunity.
As much as we love our cats and want to spoil them, eating butter is definitely not healthy for cats. We as cat owners should not let our cats dictate what is good for them. Cats have the ability to eat almost anything even if doesn’t contribute much to their dietary requirements.
Cats are obligate carnivores and need a diet that is high in protein from a meat source. Cats don’t have the enzymes to digest carbohydrates.
As butter has a high-fat content, a small serving of butter is enough to make a cat feel full and not want to eat its normal cat food. This is not healthy as your cat won’t be getting the required calories from proper cat food.
Can Cats Be Allergic To Butter?
It is possible for a cat to be allergic to butter. This is called a dairy allergy and it affects close to 10% of cats. A dairy allergy isn’t the same as a cat that is lactose intolerant.
A cat that is lactose intolerant lack the enzyme to break down lactose which is the sugar component found in dairy products.
A dairy allergy in cats means that the cat’s immune system is sensitive to the allergen called casein which is a protein found in milk.
Food allergies in cats can show as early as a few months old or when they are senior cats. Some cats develop an allergy after being exposed to the allergen over a long period of time.
Symptoms Of Dairy Allergy
If your cat has such an allergy, eating too much butter or even some butter can trigger it. If your dairy allergic cat eats butter, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Skin irritation
- Loss of fur
- Weight loss
If your cat is showing the above symptoms please get it to the vet right away for treatment. An allergic reaction in cats left untreated can lead to other health issues.
Can Cats Eat Butter For Hairballs?
Getting hairballs is a common occurrence for cats. Cats can spend up to 5 hours a day grooming themselves to remove loose fur. All this fur gets collected in your cat’s digestive tract and gets expelled from vomiting or via its poop.
Some cat owners give their cats some butter to help lubricate the trapped hairballs making it easier for the cat to get rid of it.
If your cat has no dairy allergy and can handle butter well, a little butter every now and then to help with hairballs is ok.
There are other better natural remedies for hairballs that you can consider.
However, if your cat has a chronic hairball issue that has been affecting its health, eating butter isn’t going to help much. What your cat needs is veterinary attention.
Is Butter Good For Cat Constipation?
Some butter to help ease your cat’s constipation is ok if given in small quantities. But if your cat is suffering from constipation regularly, it is best to let the vet take a look to see if there are any underlying health issues that are causing this problem.
Butter isn’t the best solution for solving chronic constipation in cats. You can try giving your cat some fresh pumpkin or psyllium husk to help regulate its bowel movement.
Constipation can also mean that your cat isn’t drinking enough water to soften its stools to be passed out easily. Cats are big water drinks themselves and if your cat is on a dry cat food diet (which is very bad for cats), it can make the problem worse.
Try feeding your cat some homemade tuna water or broth to help increase its water intake. Most cats love the smell of tuna and will drink it.
Can You Use Vegan Butter For Cats?
For cat owners who are planning on using vegan butter as a healthier alternative, don’t bother.
Even though vegan butter might contain less lactose than normal butter, it still has a high-fat content like normal butter.
Can Cats Eat Margarine?
Margarine is rather similar to vegan butter as it is made from plant matter rather than from the milk of mammals. That being said, it still has the same high fat content as butter. Cats that eat vegan butter as in fact eating margarine and should not be given too much of it.
Foods That Are Poisonous To Cats
Even though most human food is ok for cats as a treat or if they happen to consume it out of curiosity, there are certain foods that can cause serious harm or even death if eaten by your cat.
- Garlic and onions
- Grapes and raisins
- Raw eggs
- Human medicine
If your cat has eaten any of the above, it would be better to bring it to the vet right away for a check even though it is not showing any symptoms.
How To Wean Off Your Cat From Butter?
Cats that regularly eat butter should be closely monitored even though they aren’t showing negative symptoms.
You’re not doing your cat a disservice if you plan to stop its butter treat. The best way to do it is cold turkey and replace it with a much healthier alternative like homemade cat treats.
If your cat is being difficult and not wanting to eat anything else if it doesn’t get its butter, slowly reduce the quantity and frequency till your cat is fine not having any.
The good thing about butter is that it isn’t toxic to cats. So you don’t have to worry if your cat ate butter for the first time. The bad thing is too much butter can cause health problems in cats in the long run.
Make sure to ration the amount of butter that your cat eats to prevent it from becoming a butter head.