Humans use honey in countless ways, and it’s one of the best natural sweeteners available to us. If you’ve ever caught your cat looking at you while enjoying some honey on toast and wondered, can cats eat honey, you’re not alone.
The short answer is yes, cats can indeed eat honey. Even though our feline friends can eat honey, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they should.
So yes, technically cats can eat honey as it is not on the list of toxic foods for cats but, as you will discover, there are many things that you should consider before feeding honey to your cat.
More importantly, you should be aware of the pros and cons of why you should (or shouldn’t) give honey to your cat.
The simple answer is no, let me explain in more detail below.
Believe it or not, honey is already hard to digest for humans, but it’s even harder for cats.
A cat’s digestive system is far more complex when compared to ours. Their digestive system is not optimized to digest glucose and fructose, two kinds of sugars.
And since honey is rich in these two kinds of sugars, cats will most likely have problems digesting honey.
In other words, honey is made of sugars that are indigestible for a cat’s digestive system. This is because their livers lack glucokinase, the enzyme for breaking down sugars properly.
In addition, cats are unable to taste sweets. This means that they won’t get any benefit from honey and they also won’t be able to enjoy the sweet taste of honey.
However, it’s interesting to note that while cats cannot taste sweetness, they can taste things that humans don’t, such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Feeding honey to your cat may cause interference in its digestive system, and this can result in a variety of problems. Some negative side effects include weight gain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Although honey is not toxic for cats, feeding it to your cat can induce some unpleasant effects. Cats can only eat honey safely in very small amounts.
Even then, some cats may already start experiencing problems in their digestive system from just a small serving of honey.
Other than being smaller, a cat’s digestive system is also more sensitive compared to a human’s, so eating feeding them foods that are not a part of their natural diet can pose some problems.
Cats who suffer from diabetes or obesity are more susceptible to the negative effects of eating honey.
Honey will increase a cat’s insulin levels, so diabetic cats should never eat honey. Also, a tablespoon of honey contains around 64 calories. This may not be much for humans, but for cats, that’s actually a significant amount.
For comparison, the average woman needs around 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight. On the other hand, a ten-pound cat requires only around 260 calories.
This means that one tablespoon of honey already comprises more than 25% of a cat’s average daily caloric requirement. Similarly, a cat’s organs are just around 3% of its body weight while it’s around 11% for humans.
It also takes only between 12 to 24 hours for food to pass through a cat’s intestines compared to up to five days when it comes to humans.
Another thing that you should look out for is the bacteria botulinum. Honey may contain this bacteria and it can cause botulism, which usually results in complications in a cat’s respiratory systems and muscles.
This is a serious medical condition and cats with weak immune systems are easily affected.
As I’ve mentioned before, honey contains enough calories that it can cause your cat to gain weight very quickly.
But if you really have to feed them with honey because of medical reasons, the safest amount is at most ½ teaspoon per day.
Diabetic cats are very prone to more complications when eating honey, even just a small amount can cause a spike in their insulin levels.
Also, if your cat begins vomiting or having diarrhea, you have to stop giving it honey immediately.
Some smaller cats or cats with weak digestive systems may not be able to take even just 1/2 teaspoon of honey, so it’s best to always be alert instead of blindly following the general rule of ½ teaspoon per day.
The only time that honey can have any significant benefit for cats is when using it to help alleviate allergic reactions. Other than this, there really isn’t any compelling reason to feed honey to cats.
Honey has some anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and it contains antioxidants.
But there are better alternatives that do not bring risk to your cat’s health. In fact, it can actually do more harm to cats when you consider the negative side effects and risks associated with it.
Any changes in a cat’s diet can greatly affect it given their sensitive digestive systems. This is why it’s not advisable to risk your cat’s health by using honey for its very minimal benefit.
Besides, the benefits of using honey can be done through other treatments and foods that are better because they don’t have any unpleasant side effects like honey.
Some of these are decongestant sprays, antihistamines, immunotherapy, and many others that your vet may recommend.
Honey can slightly limit the immune system’s reaction to allergens, and this helps relieve your cat’s allergies.
But make sure that you only give a minimal amount (at most ½ teaspoon per day) because giving your cat more than this can lead to negative side effects.
And although some symptoms may be relieved with honey, this relief is only temporary and you still have to seek further aid from a vet or expert.
There are many antihistamines that are available over-the-counter, and you can also ask for immunotherapy.
These are the ones that are recommended by vets to help with your cat’s allergy, not honey.
Most vets don’t actually recommend honey. They would usually recommend other alternatives that are more reliable and have less or no side effects. Honey is not a part of a cat’s natural diet, so feeding honey to your cat is not necessary.
To put it bluntly, honey shouldn’t be fed to cats at all, especially if you just want to feed your cat with something sweet.
First of all, we mentioned before that cats aren’t really into sweets because they lack the ability to taste it.
Therefore, it is essentially useless to give them honey for this reason. Second, there are many possible side effects of eating honey, and it isn’t wise for a pet owner to risk the life of their pet for something that their pet wouldn’t enjoy anyway.
Also, keep in mind that you should always consult your cat’s veterinarian regarding medical concerns, and this means that you should consult with your vet before feeding your cat honey.
Your vet is the best-qualified person to diagnose the condition of your cat and can tell you what the best course of action is.
So there you have it, yes can indeed eat honey as it’s not toxic for them. But as it should be made clear there isn’t any real reason to give your cat honey.
They won’t benefit from it in real way at all and you could be putting them at risk of other health problems by doing so.
I’d avoid it and look to stick with high quality formulated cat treats specifically designed with cats in mind. For example, TEMPTATIONS Classic Crunchy and Soft Cat Treats, are a great option.
Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
Cats become lactose intolerant as they get older. Although they can eat yogurt it’s not recommended. Read more about can cats eat yogurt in the article linked.
Is Honey Safe For A Cat?
Honey is not on the list of toxic foods for cats, so it is okay if they ingest some honey. However, vets wouldn’t recommend feeding a cat any honey.