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Can Cats Eat Walnuts? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats Eat walnuts

Can Cats Eat Walnuts? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As a pet owner, you may already know that nuts are the arch-enemy of dogs. Cats aren’t the biggest fans of them either. However, felines, unlike dogs, don’t need to be rushed to your local emergency vet practice if they have ingested a piece of a walnut. Even so, walnuts can cause discomfort, stomach upset, choking, and some other unwanted side effects.

So, can cats eat them? The answer is no cats can’t eat walnuts, but let’s explore this topic further to learn more.

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No, Cats Can’t Eat Walnuts!

There are numerous benefits of humans eating these nuts. Eating walnuts has been proven to boost your gut health, aid in weight control, and decrease inflammation. Also, they help manage diabetes and lower blood pressure. But are these health perks applicable to your feline friend?

The short answer is no. When felines eat walnuts, their digestive health can suffer. While cats won’t die after eating walnuts, they may develop an upset stomach. Walnuts are packed with fat and are not the kind of food the cat’s digestive tract is used to.

Other issues with walnuts are their size, shape, and possibility of mold contamination. Swallowing a whole walnut or a large piece may lead to choking, or if cats manage to swallow it whole, they may be in a lot of discomfort, as it can lead to gastrointestinal blockage that requires urgent veterinary attention.

Walnuts may be covered with mold that is not always visible to the naked eye. This can lead to more severe gastrointestinal and even neurological signs that need prompt veterinary care.

Can Cats Eat Walnuts
Image Credit: 1643606, Pixabay

Humans have much larger stomachs and a different digestive process than our four-legged companions. That is why walnuts don’t have such a huge impact on our tummies. However, your fluffy friend’s digestive tract is tiny compared to yours and is adapted to digest animal protein. 

If your cat eats a piece of a walnut, they may be absolutely fine, while others can experience vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, reduced appetite, abdominal pain, and other signs. So never feed your cat a walnut since it won’t benefit them and may cause health issues.

Salt and Cats

Salted walnuts are even more dangerous to cats. This is because excess salt is toxic to cats. In fact, using this ingredient to induce vomiting is strongly discouraged. A single walnut is unlikely to cause salt toxicity in cats, but a teaspoon of salt can be potentially dangerous. Signs of salt poisoning in your cat can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Excessive urinating and/or thirst
  • Kidney damage
  • Coma

Treatment for salt poisoning in cats will vary and can include IV fluids, dehydration treatment, electrolyte monitoring, supportive care, and treatment for brain swelling. Besides walnuts, other salt sources inside your home can include salt lamps, seawater, table salt, rock salt, paintballs, and homemade play dough.

If you think your pet has ingested salt, you should call your vet right away.

Can Cats Eat Walnuts
Image By: FelixMittermeier, Pixabay

Chocolate and Cats

While chocolate-covered walnuts can be a decadent treat for humans, you should never feed them to animals. Even though they’re a lot less likely to steal a chocolate treat than dogs, chocolate is still very bad for cats. And while a chocolate bar may not appeal to them, milk-based chocolate drinks can be risky around cats.

Chocolate contains an ingredient known as theobromine. While humans can tolerate this compound better and eat larger amounts without experiencing any ill effects, cats cannot. It can result in a toxic substance build-up within the bloodstream and lead to dire health consequences.

Your cat may experience the following signs if they get into your chocolate, including the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excitement, agitation, hyperactivity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Fever

If you notice any of these signs or think your cat has eaten any chocolate, you must contact your vet as soon as possible.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Chocolate

If your furry friend gets chocolate, and you catch them in the act, get them to the vet immediately. If caught early enough, a veterinarian can safely induce vomiting to rid your pet’s system of the toxic food. Your cat could vomit naturally after consuming chocolate but never try to induce vomiting yourself.

At the vet, they may perform tests, such as a full physical exam and taking a blood sample. They may also give your cat an ECG (heart test) to ensure their heart rate is normal. 

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The Bottom Line on Walnuts and Cats

You should never feed your cat walnuts, even if they are not covered in salt or chocolate. Cats can thrive on cat food and healthy treats and don’t need nuts of any kind in their diet. It is not an emergency if your cat eats a small piece of plain walnuts. However, contact your vet if your pet starts showing any signs of distress.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay, Aline de Nadai, Unsplash

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