Pecan Pie is a delicious dessert traditionally served in the United States during the winter and fall. It’s mouth-wateringly sweet and contains pecans, eggs, molasses, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla extract. Some recipes even call for bourbon or maple syrup. And all of that comes in a nice flaky crust loaded with butter and salt. While pecan pie is delicious, it doesn’t qualify as healthy for cats.
If your cat takes a few bites of pecan pie, there’s probably nothing to be worried about. They may throw up or have a bit of diarrhea due to the pie’s high-fat content, but you’re most likely not looking at a trip to the emergency veterinarian. Human foods like pecan pie are generally not great for cats since they contain tons of calories, include few nutrients cats require, and often add to feline obesity.
Pecan Pie Ingredients
Pecans and butter aren’t toxic to cats, but they contain plenty of fat, which can be tough on feline tummies and lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Most cats are intolerant of dairy products, but there’s nothing toxic about milk, butter, and cream. That doesn’t, however, mean they should be fed these items regularly.
Cats require salt to be healthy, and it’s considered an essential nutrient. But there’s a limit to how much they can safely ingest. When cats consume large quantities of salt, it can become toxic 1. Reach out to your veterinarian if you suspect your cat shows signs of salt toxicity, such as disorientation or gastrointestinal problems.
Most of the products in pecan pie follow a similar pattern; none are outright poisonous, but virtually all can make cats sick if they eat too much. But there is one exception; since it contains alcohol, vanilla extract is not safe for cats. Alcohol is toxic to cats. Even relatively small amounts 2 can cause feline ethanol poisoning. But there generally won’t be enough alcohol in one or two pecan pie bites to create a severe problem for your cat.
Most pecan pie recipes that call for bourbon, vanilla extract, or alcohol only require 1 or 2 tablespoons. Pies are usually baked for around 1 hour at temperatures ranging from 350ºF–375ºF, meaning at least some of the alcohol will burn off. It’s highly unlikely that your pet would be able to ingest enough in just a few bites of pie to run into trouble. However, if you have any concerns, you should contact your veterinarian or emergency care provider for advice.
So Why Can’t My Cat Eat Pecan Pie?
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their digestive tracts are optimized to extract nutrients from meat. A 10-pound cat only needs around 250 calories per day to meet their energy needs, and they also requires certain amounts of protein, fat, and nutrients such as taurine.
Human foods like pecan pie drastically increase cats’ caloric intake while providing almost none of the nutrients kitties need to stay in top shape. Cats that regularly snack on human food while eating normal portions of cat food often end up overweight due to the high number of calories in human food.
More than 30% of North American cats are considered obese 3. Overweight cats have greater chances of developing conditions such as osteoarthritis, bladder stones, and diabetes. They even tend to live shorter lives!
The Ideal Feline Diet
Look for products that meet the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional guidelines 3. Dry and wet cat foods that meet these requirements provide all the daily vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients required for feline health. But you can still negatively impact your pet’s health by giving them too much of the good stuff, so invest in a measuring cup and follow the manufacturer’s feeding instructions to avoid overfeeding your buddy. You can limit your cat’s treats to around 5-10% of their daily food intake to control your pet’s calorie consumption.
A good mix of wet and dry food options gives cats variety. It also provides an excellent source of hydration, which is vital for feline health, as many cats don’t drink enough water. Not drinking enough can lead to dehydration; most cats need to drink around 1 cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight 4.
Wet food often consists of around 80% water, and to take things up a notch, consider investing in a cat fountain. Cats prefer running water, and it’s why they love to drink from dripping faucets. The flowing water in fountains generally encourages cats to drink more.
Pecan pie is far from a healthy treat for cats. While a bite or two is nothing to worry about, it’s simply not a nutritionally sound feline option. Pecan pie packs a serious wallop in the fat, sugar, and calorie departments. Eating high-calorie human foods like pecan pie often leads to weight gain, which is a huge contributor to the development of conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.