Cats are not big on French food. I know what you’re thinking, they’re missing out, right? Well, maybe. But all of the things that work so well for humans, including butter, cream and cheese (unless you’re vegan of course) don’t work so well for cats. Cats can not eat butter primarily because they are lactose intolerant, but mainly because it’s just not very healthy.
We have discussed this a few times already in our Cats and Yogurt guide. Not all cats are lactose intolerant, but many are and even the ones that are not should still avoid butter.
Can Cats Eat Butter?
Butter may be tasty for us, but it doesn’t have the same appeal to our feline friends and it’s also worse for them than it is for us. Contrary to what many health experts believed in the 80s and 90s, fat is not evil. We need it to survive and even a little “bad fat” like butter and cream is okay every now and then.
But for cats, who subsist primarily on clean proteins, it is a different story.
Why Cats Can’t Eat Butter
If we forget the lactose intolerance thing then you also have to consider that this is a fat that is rich in calories, and cats are animals that should be eating a diet rich in protein. That diet should also include fat, of course, because many of the meats they eat—from salmon to pork—include fat anywhere. These, like butter, are also animal fats. However, butter is basically a pure form of an animal fat and it doesn’t provide our feline friends with the nutrition they need.
Even a small amount is not good because butter packs a lot of calories and a small knob of butter could equate to an entire chicken breast in terms of calories. So, if that butter is substituted for something else in their diet then it means they are going to lack the protein and the nutrients they need for the day. If it is extra it means they are eating an excessive amount and run the risk of weight-related issues.
Cats and Butter: Should I be Worried?
If your cat has eaten a little butter without you knowing then you should be okay. They probably won’t willingly eat much of it anyway. The more curious of felines will probably lick it or nibble it and while this might cause a little digestive discomfort and lead to a lot of lip licking, it’s unlikely to do any serious harm. If, however, they have eaten a lot then you may want to seek medical advice, especially if they are very young, very old or have preexisting health issues.
As the owner of a very mischievous cat who eats anything (as discussed in our Cats and Oatmeal guide) I know how worrying it can be when you find your cat eats something they shouldn’t. But I also have experience of there being no repercussions, and my cat has stolen a lick of everything from a pan of olive oil to butter, raw eggs and more.
My cat is not the control group and just because he was okay doesn’t mean yours will be. But just know that there is nothing toxic in butter like there is in lilies and nuts. That doesn’t mean they will be okay though and if you are worried it’s always best to get advice from a professional who knows your cat’s history.