Can cats eat almonds?

There are some obvious things your cat shouldn’t eat, but it can be harder to judge when it comes to human food.

So, are almonds safe for cats to eat, or are they a danger to your cat’s health?

You’re about to find out…

Can Cats Eat Almonds?

a cat looking at the almonds in the gray table thinking "can cats eat almonds?"

There is no simple answer to this question. Your cat can eat almonds in small amounts, but there are quite a few ifs, buts, and gray areas.

As a snack for humans, almonds are jam-packed full of nutrients, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Nutritionists at Healthline explain these wonder nuts can help control blood sugar, blood pressure, and even lower cholesterol.

Almonds are also thought to help with weight loss as their high fat and protein content reduces hunger and aids people to feel full.

They are such a hit in the nutrition world that we use almonds to produce a wide variety of health foods. These include almond butter, milk, oil, and flour.

So it isn’t a giant leap for pet owners to start wondering if almonds could be a healthy treat for their furry friend.

But do cats experience the same health benefits when eating almonds? And just because your cat can eat them, does that mean she should? 

More on this a bit later…

Check: Top 5 Dry Cat Foods for Your Kitty

Are Almonds Safe OR Toxic for Cats to Eat?

almonds poured from the jar

Cats, especially kittens, are curious and interested in their environment.

Our feline friends explore their world using their senses. 

Much like a small child, if something smells interesting, your cat may well be tempted to see how it tastes.

If your cat eats a bit of sweet almond by mistake, then it’s unlikely you will need to rush her to the vet.

But some almonds can be toxic, and they can pose other problems too. Have no fear, I’m about to explain the finer details for you.

Here we go…

Are Almonds toxic to Cats?

Perhaps I move in the wrong circles, but I have never heard the rumor that almonds are toxic to cats. Never the less the ASPCA has set out to put this myth to rest.

They state that sweet almonds are not toxic to pets. Sweet almonds are the most common kind sold for consumption and are what most people think of when someone mentions almonds.

This would imply that there is another type, right? Yes indeed! And what’s worse, the other kind is toxic to cats.

Bitter almonds contain a cyanide compound (cyanogenic glycosides). You read right; these nuts contain cyanide!

Not enough to feature in the plot of a spy movie, but enough to potentially give your cat cyanide poisoning.

study revealed that sweet almonds also contain the cyanide compound but that the amount found in bitter almonds is around 40 times higher.

The research team concluded that 50 bitter almonds could be fatal for a human adult and that as few as 5-10 would be fatal for a child.

As for cats, there is really no “safe” amount of bitter almonds, considering a human child can’t even eat 5-10 without tragic consequences.

Bitter almonds are far less common than sweet, and you are unlikely to find them in the average store.

They can be found in some health food stores, though.

Rest assured, it should be pretty hard to buy them by mistake. They are clearly labeled, and you would have to go out of your way to find them.

These cyanide compounds can also be found in apple seeds, apricot kernels, cherries, and peach pits.

Related: Can Cats Eat Anchovies?

Can almonds kill cats? (6 Potential Dangers)

Sweet almonds may be non-toxic, but there are many ways in which they can be harmful to or even kill your cat.

Bitter almonds can be extremely dangerous for your cat; even one could do serious harm.

1. Cyanide Poisoning

One of the main threats your cat faces is cyanide poisoning. Bitter almonds are the more significant threat here.

But sweet almonds can also be fatal if eaten in large volumes or in more concentrated products such as oils. 

2. Choking

Your cats are adapted to eating meat, as you’ll find out later…

Their teeth were never meant to crush, pound, or chew up nuts. If your cat can’t chew the nut, she may try to swallow it whole.

The nut could easily obstruct her airway and cause her to choke. While it could take multiple almonds to make your cat sick, it only takes one for her to choke.

3. Internal Obstructions

Even if your cat is able to successfully swallow an almond whole, there is still the possibility that it will cause an obstruction further along in her digestive system.

A nut clogging your kitty up from the inside is going to be uncomfortable at best and life-threatening at worst.

I’ll share a story with you about this later…

4. Obesity

Almonds are high in fat and are calorie-dense. Your cat is likely to struggle with digesting the fat content.

A build-up of fat in her system can lead to pancreatitis. Ideally, your cat should be getting all of her daily calories from her cat food. 

The odd treat here and there isn’t going to break the scales. But the calories and weight can pile on if she regularly snacks on almonds.

5. Upset Stomach

Aside from the risk of obesity and linked diseases, the fats in almonds can cause kitty to experience stomach upset.

This can manifest as vomiting or diarrhea. Neither are pleasant for your cat, so why run the risk?

6. Toxic Toppings

Almonds come in many varieties. We use various ingredients as seasonings and coatings to make them even more enjoyable for us to eat.

Aside from the risks associated with your cat eating these nuts, the seasonings and coatings can sometimes be equally as dangerous.

Take chocolate-coated almonds, for example. Chocolate is highly toxic to cats and other pets.

Salt is another common yet problematic seasoning.

If your cat consumes too much salt, she is at risk of developing sodium ion toxicosis. 

This condition mainly arises at times when a cat takes in too much salt and not enough water.

Cats can have weird drinking habits such as cat drinking only from the faucet, so it’s not far-fetched.

In severe cases, salt toxicity can be fatal.

Should Cats Eat Almonds?

We looked at all of the health risks above, but are there any health benefits to feeding your cat almonds?

To answer that question, you need to understand your cat’s natural diet and how her digestive system works.

Your cat is a carnivore. Everything about her is adapted and evolved for meat-eating, from her teeth to her intestines.

Felines have adapted to a meat-based diet and get all the nutrients they need from meat sources.

Cats have a short digestive tract that is well adapted to digesting raw flesh. Plant-eating animals have a much longer gut to digest their food.

Cats simply can’t process plant-based nutrients in the same way, as food isn’t in their digestive system long enough to be broken down.

This is why it is not possible to feed cats a vegetarian diet. They simply wouldn’t get the nutrients they need.

In summary, your cat won’t see the same health benefits humans do and instead stands to experience worse health if she eats almonds.

Find out if these kittens eat the almond.

What happens if a cat eats almonds?

An almond is probably not the first thing most pet owners would think of when trying to find a fun, cat treat to give their cat.

Chances are, you’ve found this article as your cat has accidentally consumed one of these nuts or found an open pack laying around and decided to try one.

If you’ve read from the top, you’ll know that sweet almonds are not toxic to cats and that eating the odd one isn’t going to do any harm.

Many of the health risks listed above are more extreme examples of what can happen if your cat regularly eats almonds.

But they do happen…

Here’s an account from a cat owner who experienced the effects almonds can have on cats.

Cat forum member “Debloggo” left a jar of almonds unattended and returned to find that her cat, Mingo, had eaten about 3 or 4.

Later that evening, Mingo was vomiting. He had dilated pupils, and his body felt stiff.

An x-ray at the vet revealed the almonds had gotten stuck between Mingo’s stomach and intestine, requiring surgery to remove them.

Mingo lived to eat again, but I imagine he used up one of his nine lives in the process. Meanwhile, his owner was left with a hefty vet bill.

Check this video to know if almond milk is safe for cats. More on this in the FAQ section.

Can Cats Eat Almonds FAQs

Can cats digest almonds?

No, cats can’t fully digest almonds. A cat’s digestive system is adapted for meat consumption, so a large amount of fatty acids and oils can be challenging for a cat to digest.

Is almond milk OK for cats?

Almond milk is not toxic or poisonous to cats, but it is not great for them either. Despite the popular myth, milk, in general, is not suitable for cats and can cause an upset stomach. Almond milk is no different.

Can cats eat almond oil?

Sweet almond oil is not on the list of toxic essential oils for cats. However, bitter almond oil is. The ASPCA states any oil at a high enough concentration can be dangerous. Caution is advised.

Can cats eat almond butter?

Cats can safely eat small quantities of almond butter; it isn’t toxic for them. However, almond butter is rich in fat, oil, and sometimes sugar. This can lead to feline problems such as obesity, diabetes, and an upset stomach. 

What nuts can cats eat?

Generally speaking, nuts offer little to no nutritional value to a cat’s diet. While most nuts are not toxic to cats, they can be harmful in other ways. If your cat eats the odd nut from the floor, it’s no big deal.

Final Thoughts

Can cats eat almonds? That’s the question you wanted me to answer, and that’s what we explored in this article.

Now you know that while your cat can eat the odd sweet almond without incident, they are not part of her natural diet and can be harmful.

Your cat stands to gain no real nutritional value from these nuts but could fall victim to one of many associated risks.

Concerns range from cyanide poisoning to choking, obesity, and diabetes. We learned that even a few nuts can cause serious complications. 

So the question to ask is, do you really want to risk giving almonds to your cat? Why not find a better alternative?

There are plenty of tasty cat treats and many nutritious cat foods available to ensure your feline friend is a healthy cat.

My advice, give the almonds a miss and treat your feline friend to something more suited to her regular diet. 

I’m sure she’ll thank you for it.

Do you have any other thoughts on the question of “can cats eat almonds?” Share below!

Barry Stingmore
Barry Stingmore

Barry Stingmore is a British content creator living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats.

Barry works with the island’s animal charities to help manage and care for feral and abandoned animals. Alongside fieldwork, he works to support the charities with fundraising and raising awareness.