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can my pet have this

Can cats eat honey?

Most cats are “sweet blind,” but that’s not the only reason vets recommend against giving your cat honey. 

Updated October 6, 2020

Created By

Whitney Williams,
Can cats eat honey

The essentials

  • Honey is not toxic to cats, but it’s not recommended either. The risks of feeding honey to your cat may outweigh the potential benefits, so proceed with informed caution.
  • If you’re going to use it, use raw Manuka honey. Used for many different medicinal purposes, this honey offers the most nutritional value and antibacterial benefits

Vet’s don’t recommend feeding honey to your cat

More than the dining experience, veterinarians’ concerns are health and safety. Digestive distress, stomach aches, probable weight gain, and unclear benefit to cat health are the reason most vets discourage honey.

Your veterinarian will look at the anatomy and medical history of your cat when determining what’s safe to eat. One thing your vet might point out is that cat’s don’t need any sugar, and likely don’t care about it anyway. (In fact, most cats are “sweet blind” and can’t taste sweet treats.)

Your cat is a carnivore and actually lacks the ability to taste sweets. While you may want to share a delicious treat with your cat, they won’t enjoy the same sensory experience. Carnivorous animals, as a rule, gravitate to the fat content offered in a food. If you’ve ever seen your cat lick an ice cream dish clean, it’s not because they’re a sugar addict. The fat is what they actually adore.

It’s best to talk with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods to your cat.

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Here are a few healthy alternatives to eating honey

If you’re wanting to give your cat a little treat off the spoon, look for cat healthy alternatives. Remember that humans love donuts but your cat loves meat. Tasty tuna treats or three-ingredient salmon treats are great homemade options. Pinterest offers board after board of DIY organic cat treats to delight your cat’s taste buds.

When in doubt, think of the diet your cat would consume in the wild and build from that.

If you decide to give your cat honey, here’s what you should know

👉 If you speak with your vet and opt to test honey in your adult cat’s diet, start with a small amount of honey. Giving half a teaspoon a day is appropriate to deliver any possible benefits.

Many cat owners wonder if honey is a good remedy for issues like seasonal allergies or sore throat. Honey is a natural antioxidant known to boost the immune system. Antibacterial properties have given honey a good name in the homeopathic community. In particular, raw manuka honey has the ability to kill germs, giving it a reputation as a wound treatment. The benefits that honey offers to humans inspire some cat owners to turn to nature’s nectar for help.

Go with raw — Only raw honey should be considered to reap any potential health benefits. Bonus points for both raw and local.

If you’re considering honey for your cat’s allergies, there are a few things you should know. Though honey will not cause an allergic reaction in your cat, treating your pet’s seasonal allergies with honey is a “maybe” at best. If you attempt to soothe allergies with honey, always choose raw. It’s almost a guarantee that processed honey from chain grocers will deliver zero benefits to your animal. Even with raw, there’s not enough evidence in support of honey easing cat allergies to recommend it as a treatment.

Consider Manuka — Major antibacterial components are found in the nectar of the manuka flower, making manuka honey the medicinal choice.

Manuka honey is made by bees in New Zealand and Australia who pollinate the manuka bush. This special type of honey has been used medicinally all over the world. With the strongest antibacterial properties, manuka also boasts antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits. Your veterinarian may utilize manuka honey or a product containing it for wound management. Never attempt to treat your cat’s wound at home without the guidance of your veterinarian.

What to avoid — Processed honey of any kind is stripped of nearly all health properties. The result is empty calories and fillers galore.

Most honey found in a grocery store has been processed and pasteurized to the point of death. Stripped of living health benefits, cross-contaminated in factories, and watered down, processed honey is completely unnecessary and lacking all benefits for your cat.

There are a few potential side effects to consider

As for the pet owner who just caught their cat halfway inside a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, there’s no need for an emergency visit. Honey is not toxic to cats. Depending on how many cheerios your cat consumed, you may see some stomach distress. If your cat has persistent diarrhea or becomes lethargic, it’s a good idea to contact the vet. More often than not, the cheerio debacle will pass without incident.

Kittens, in particular, should stay away from all honey for several reasons. Your kitten’s tiny throat and stomach make the sticky substance difficult to swallow. Developing immune systems are ill-equipped for the bacterial spores in honey. Like human babies, kittens are subject to botulism, an illness caused by the bacterium clostridium botulinum which releases a neurotoxin into the bloodstream. There’s no good reason to give honey to a kitten, but plenty of reasons to avoid it.

Your adult cat isn’t completely in the clear either. For some cats, even a half teaspoon of honey can cause issues with your cat’s digestive system. If you notice vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or other symptoms of an upset stomach, stop honey completely. There’s also the issue of calories, of which honey holds plenty. (One tablespoon of honey holds nearly 64 calories.) Adding honey to your cat’s diet can result in unwanted weight gain. For diabetic cats, honey can be especially problematic as it raises blood sugar and throws diabetes out of control.

Even though honey isn’t going to poison your feline friend, it’s generally not a good idea for the majority.

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Insights and resources for responsible pet parents. Your cuddly furball says thank you.