Cashews are so in demand, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are these nuts so yummy, but they’re also hearty and oh so versatile. Of course, something as good as this ought to be shared.
If you’re among the many cashew-loving cat owners, you might think of feeding cashews to your cat. The question is: Can cats eat cashews? Or are cashews toxic to cats?
Responsible pet owners know too well that many of the foods we humans eat can do more harm than good to our furry friends, cats included.
Since you’re obviously among the few pet parents who take necessary precautions, give yourself a pat on the back. Looking this question up simply means you are among the cat lovers who genuinely care for your cats.
Now, since you wish to find out the real deal behind cashew nuts and their effect on your cat’s health, we will do just that and more.
Cashews: What You Need To Know
Despite being dubbed as a nut, cashews are seeds that grow on evergreen trees called the cashew tree. This large tropical tree is native to Brazil and Venezuela.
Nowadays, you’ll find this in various equatorial countries, including India, Africa, and other Southeast Asian countries.
Interestingly, the cashew tree bears a fruit called cashew apple. Yes, you heard it right. Such a thing as cashew apples exist, and they taste sweet and delicious. Unfortunately, these can’t be seen outside the plant’s natural habitat since they are highly perishable.
Now, the cashew apple is not the actual fruit. It’s more of an accessory or false fruit. The real fruit is a boxing glove-like drupe that hangs below the apple. And within it lies the kidney-shaped cashew nut, which we can’t get enough of.
“Raw” Cashews Are Not Exactly Raw
You’re probably wondering why you haven’t seen any shelled cashews around. That’s because, in its raw form (shell and all), cashews are toxic.
Unlike store-bought raw cashews (which are, in fact, already cooked), shelled true “raw cashews” can’t be eaten because it contains a potent skin irritant toxin called urushiol.
To get the seed within and remove all the harmful toxins, cashews have to be roasted or steamed. So, yes. The raw cashews we buy in the grocery stores are not raw. They’re just labeled as such because of the lack of additional seasoning or flavoring.
Also Read: Can Cats Eat Pistachios?
Cashew Nutrition Facts
Cashews offer great nutritional value. They are also easy to add to anyone’s diet as long as you’re not allergic to them. It packs a lot of nutrients that can help with weight management, improvement of heart and bone health, and diabetes prevention.
When it comes to nutrients, expect this antioxidant powerhouse, protein-rich, and healthy fat-dense food to contain these vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Can Cats Eat Cashews?
If you want a short answer, the answer is Yes. Giving your cat a little cashew won’t hurt your cat as long as it’s done in moderation. But it doesn’t end there.
Although cashew nuts are not toxic to cats like macadamia nuts, chocolates, and grapes are, these nutty human treats are not beneficial to cats either.
In short, cashews (despite all the benefits it offers for humans) are more or less deemed as junk food in the realm of cats.
You might argue that cashew is rich in protein, and a cat’s diet should be high in protein. And you’re right. Cats indeed need a diet with more protein.
But what our tamed little lions’ natural diet require is animal protein (those packed with amino acids) instead of plant-based protein that lacks sufficient amounts of amino acids.
Since day one, cats, being obligate carnivores, have been used to having a lean diet. In the wild, cats don’t often eat plants. And because of this, your kitty’s digestive system is not hardwired to digest it well.
Why Are Cashews Bad For Your Cats?
Are cashews poisonous to cats? If you’re referring to the unprocessed raw cashews, the answer is yes. But if you’re asking about toxin-free, store-bought cashews, these are entirely safe.
Keep in mind, though, that feeding your cat cashews comes with a couple of risks. So, before you feed cashews to your cat, make sure to read through each one. After all, risk prevention always starts with awareness.
Can cats choke when eating cashews? Hell, yeah! Cashews may look small, but considering your cats’ size, cashew nuts (and other nuts like almonds) pose a choking hazard to your cat.
If you haven’t noticed it yet when a cat eats, a cat doesn’t usually chew their food. So, you can’t expect them to chew cashews when you give them whole cashews.
Most likely, they’ll swallow this whole. And if this happens, the nut could get trapped in your cat’s throat and block its airways.
Cashew nuts may contain healthy fats that humans can use to their advantage. But cats’ bodies can’t use this the way humans do. In fact, cats’ stomachs can hardly digest foods with high-fat content. So, feeding this calorie-density food to your cat regularly over a long period would only make your cat obese.
Remember, cats’ digestive systems are not engineered to process plant material. Cats may be able to handle a few nuts, but giving them too much would most likely cause stomach upset. This could include vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and abdominal pain.
Dehydration Or Excessive Thirst
Even the unsalted varieties contain sodium. According to USDA, 100 grams of cashews contain 12mg of sodium. With this amount, you can expect your cat to feel thirsty or dehydrated after eating cashew nuts.
One other thing, adding too much salt to their regular diet can also be detrimental to your cat’s health. Long-term consumption of a high-salt diet can disrupt your cat’s bone development and heart function. On the other hand, overeating salt in one sitting can lead to salt poisoning.
Symptoms of salt or sodium poisoning include vomiting, appetite loss, excessive urination and thirst, lethargy, and diarrhea. If severe, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death can happen if immediate actions are not taken.
Although feeding cashews to cats would least likely result in allergic reactions, it’s still worth taking preventive measures. Cashew allergy in cats might be fairly rare, but it can still happen.
You’ll know if your cat has allergies if it starts feeling queasy. Other symptoms include an upset stomach, itching, and hives.
Cashews have high-fat content and have moderate amounts of protein. Cats, in general, only need moderate amounts of fat and don’t usually consume fats in high doses.
Apart from weight gain, eating foods with too much fat over a long period can lead to a life-threatening condition that involves the enlargement of the cat’s pancreas.
A painful condition like this will require veterinary care. At times, surgery might even be necessary.
Tips On How to Feed Your Cat Cashews
Now that you know all the possible dangers of feeding your cat cashews, you might still want to give them a bite. After all, sharing a few nuts wouldn’t hurt.
If ever you plan to give them a taste of this human treat, make sure to take note of these tips to avoid any unplanned visits to the vet.
Check the labels. Since your cat’s sodium intake must be limited, look for low sodium cashews. Varieties with very low sodium content are those labeled raw unroasted or unsalted dry roasted.
Cut it into pieces. If you plan to give your cat a few solid cashews, make sure to cut them into tiny pieces. This way, you won’t have to worry about your cat getting choked.
Serve it sparingly as an occasional treat. Just like kitty treats, you should only let your cat eat cashews on rare occasions.
How many cashews can cats eat? Since this one isn’t the healthiest treat for cats, it’s best to keep it at a minimum – like one or two pieces at most.
Keep them hydrated. Since cats that eat cashews will feel thirsty after, make sure to have a bowl of water readily available to quench your cat’s thirst.
What Other Cashew-Derived Food Can Cats Eat?
Can cats eat cashews? Yes, you can let your cat eat cashews. But what about other foods that are related to cashews, like cashew milk? Can cats drink cashew milk? The answer is also yes.
Unlike solid food, cashew in its liquid form is much safer since it removes the risk of choking. And since most cats can’t drink cow’s milk because of their lactose intolerance, cashew milk (see recipe below) serves as a good alternative to dairy milk. Apart from that, cashew milk also contains very little sodium.
However, keep in mind that even cashew milk can trigger an allergic reaction. It may also contain sugar, which like salt, is not very good for cats.
Food For Thought
So, yes. Cats can eat cashew nuts and still feel perfectly fine afterward. But you know what? Maybe it’s also worth asking if you SHOULD let your cats eat cashew nuts.
This question would surely elicit a different response. Given cashews’ nutritional value for cats, sharing this treat may not be worthwhile.
And if you think about it, giving in once to your cat’s begging would only result in your cat asking for more. And we all know that once we go down that road, it’s hard to turn back.
So, instead of giving them cashews, get them vet-approved cat treats. All they want is for you to spend quality time with them. The treats are just a bonus. We’re sure they wouldn’t care if it’s healthy, store-bought cat treats.
We took it upon ourselves to give you the best recipes that you could use for your feline companion. The cream, you can make it as a topper on their dry food. Enjoy!
Simple Cashew Cream
- 1 cup Raw Cashews
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice optional
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1/2 tsp Salt optional
- Add the cashews, lemon juice (if using) water and salt (if using) to the blender jug and blend until smooth.
- The basic cream recipe is really just the cashews and water. If you want a thinner cream then use up to a ¼ cup more water.
- The lemon juice and salt add a tang and a little savory flavor, though it’s mild. It makes this stand out more as a standalone recipe ready to use as is.
- If you are really wanting just the blank slate recipe to use in another recipe or to closely match unflavored dairy cream, then start with just the cashews and water only.
- You don’t have to soak the cashews first unless you have a weaker model blender. If you do want/need to soak them then you can place them in a bowl, pour over boiling water from the kettle and leave to soak for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse and continue with the recipe.
- If you want a thinner cream you can add more water for a thinner consistency. The consistency in this recipe as written, is for a fairly thick cream which is perfect to dollop on top of various dishes or serve as a sauce with pasta.
- The lemon juice adds a slight tang to this, which I love. But if you are wanting a more bland cream to be used in a recipe, you can omit the lemon juice for more of a ‘blank slate’ cream that is closer to a plain dairy cream.
- Optional additions to this recipe could be: crushed garlic, apple cider vinegar (for more of a sour cream), maple syrup for a sweeter cream, nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor), hot sauce for spiciness, the options are endless!
- This recipe was first published in April 2018. It has been updated with extra tips but the recipe itself is unchanged.
Honey Roasted Cashew Nuts
- 20 g Butter
- 30 g Honey
- 250 g Cashew nuts
- Freshly ground sea salt
- Put the butter and honey in a bowl and heat in the microwave until melted.
- Stir the cashew nuts into the honey and butter mixture.
- Put the cashew nuts onto a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.
- Bake in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Stir half-way through. They may need a couple more minutes. Be careful as they can very quickly burn.
- Sprinkle the salt onto the nuts. Leave them to cool.
Homemade Cashew Milk
- 1 cup Raw cashews
- 4 cups Water + water for soaking
- 1-2 tbsp Maple syrup or agave
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Start by soaking the cashews overnight or for at least 8 hours. (See additional note if you forgot to soak.)
- After the cashews have soaked, drain and rinse them.
- In a high-power blender, add the soaked cashews, 4 cups of water, maple syrup or agave, vanilla extract, and salt.
- Blend on high for 2 minutes, or until creamy.
What nuts are poisonous to cats?
Macadamia nuts are toxic to pets, and like grapes, the exact mechanism of toxicity is unknown. Other types of nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, are rich in oils and fats that can cause digestive upset and potentially even pancreatitis in cats.
Is it okay for cats to eat cashews?
Raw cashews are not poisonous or toxic to cats. However, they aren't the most nutritious feline treat. Cats need a diet mostly comprised of protein. It's true, cashews are high in protein and other nutrients, but they are not a suitable dietary source for your cat.
Are almonds toxic to cats?
Many rumors have some basis in fact, and this one is no different. Sweet almonds—the kind sold for consumption in the United States—are not toxic to pets.
What happens if a cat eats nuts?
Other types of nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, are rich in oils and fats that can cause digestive upset and potentially even pancreatitis in cats.
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