Can Cats Eat Butter?
Oh butter. We love it. We put it in our food, we put it ON our food, heck we even melt it as an addition to food. Butter is a staple food for humans. But is it safe for cats?
You probably found this article because you own a cat, and one of two things are true: they got into butter you left out, or you’ve heard that butter helps cats cough up hairballs more easily.
Regardless, before you give your cats humans food, you want to make sure it is safe for them.
Before we get into any details at all, we’d like to put your fears to rest. No, butter isn’t poisonous to cats, and your little buddy will not get sick or die if they lick the butter left out on the counter.
And no, they aren’t going to choke on a hairball if you don’t feed them butter. The worst risk with cats and butter has to do with malnutrition and lactose intolerances, not hairballs or illnesses.
Are cats lactose intolerant?
If you have read, Can Cats Eat Cheese? Or Can Cats Eat Whipped Cream? Then you have seen that cats will try and eat dairy.
Cats love foods that are high in fat, which includes lots of dairy products — that’s why your cat is so obsessed with eating butter.
However, cats can’t be trusted to make their own nutritional choices. They’ll go after anything that tastes good
The truth is many cats, even ones that seem to love dairy, are lactose intolerant.
Do you have a lactose-intolerant human friend who can’t stop eating cheese? Cats are like that.
Will it kill your human friend? Most likely no. Will they be in pain and gassy? Most likely.
Like humans, cats are born with the ability to digest the lactose in their mothers’ milk. But as they wean on a diet of solid food, the majority of cats lose the enzymes that help them process lactose, meaning dairy passes through their systems undigested.
That can lead to an unpleasant night for your furbaby, with an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.
So Can Cats Even Eat Butter? Is it even good for them?
Before you completely stop your cats from ever eating butter, slow your roll.
First, it is important to know that ever cat’s stomach reacts differently to lactose.
Like with humans, it varies, and some kittens retain the ability to process lactose as they grow up.
Out of our four cats, all of which have gotten into diary of some kind, they have all had unique reactions to it.
Second, butter actually contains very little lactose.
Most dairy products have been treated, cultured, and mixed with other ingredients until the actual lactose content is relatively low.
Similarly to how humans that are lactose intolerant won’t be sick with a bite of ice cream, the amount of lactose is small enough to handle.
Chances are, even a lactose-intolerant kitty can eat a small amount of butter without getting a stinking up the litter box.
So Should I Start Giving My Cats Butter?
Before we go 180 and start adding butter to your cat’s diet it is important to understand an important thing.
Cats are carnivores by nature. That means the main food group they should be eating should be meat. Carbohydrates are added in to give them energy but should still mainly be in moderation.
If you give your cat too much butter, or too much of any human food, they won’t have any appetite left for food that contains the nutrition cats need.
Cats can’t live on a diet of human food any more than you could live on nothing but cat food.
It would equate it to a cupcake. Can humans eat cupcakes? Of course. But if we eat a cupcake for breakfast and dinner everyday we are not getting the nutrients we need to be healthy. (Or we are in a massive caloric surplus that will cause us to gain weight).
The same scenarios are true for cats.
But what about hairballs? Isn’t butter important to help them come up smoothly?
You might have heard that letting your cat drink a little melted butter will help lubricate their throat and make it easier to cough up hairballs.
While this has not been proven to help cats, it is also not extraordinarily necessary.
Listening to your cat try to cough up a hairball is always upsetting — it sounds so much like they’re choking. Just remind yourself that hairballs are a natural part of a cat’s life, and that 95 percent of the time, they’ll pass easily on their own.
There are actually products you can buy that help cats digest hairballs easier and even different cat foods that help break up hairballs before they become a problem.
Most importantly, if your cat has serious problems with hairballs obstructing their breathing, we recommend taking them to a vet as soon as possible, rather than trying a home remedy.
Final Verdict: Can Cats Eat Butter?
The short answer is: yes, but they shouldn’t eat too much.
Butter can be a sweet treat that are given to your feline friends every once in a while. Or when we completely forget and leave it on the counter and the cats get into it.
It is not something I would go out of my way to start adding into your pets diet. You want to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.