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Can Cats Eat Butter? Vet Reviewed Dietary Guidance


Jun 17, 2023
Two sticks of butter and knife


Two sticks of butter and knife
Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

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Cats are obligate carnivores and often seek out animal food sources, including butter. But can cats eat butter? While butter isn’t poisonous or toxic to a cat, it’s not exactly healthy, either.

Here’s everything you need to know about feeding butter, margarine, and other oils to your cat.


Is Butter Safe for Cats?

Butter isn’t poisonous to your cat, so you don’t need to rush to the emergency clinic if your cat licked a little off the counter. That said, butter and similar products like margarine or cooking oil can trigger a lot of unpleasant signs in your cat—some of which can be serious.

Fat, whether cooked or uncooked, can wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive system, causing intestinal problems like gastroenteritis, which may cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Another concern is pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas that can be potentially life-threatening. The signs of pancreatitis may include nausea, vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, and abdominal pain. If the attack is severe enough, acute shock or even death may occur.

What Should I Do If My Cat Eats Butter?

cat after eating food from a plate
Image Credit: mik ulyannikov, Shutterstock

Cats have a way of getting into things. If your cat manages to steal a tab of butter off the table or counter, it may not be an immediate cause for alarm. If your cat ate a large amount, however, you may see some digestive discomfort or signs of a serious condition. This only applies to non flavored butter, garlic butter for example is toxic to cats and should warrant a call to your veterinarian.

It’s important to monitor your cat carefully and contact your vet to make them aware of the situation. If you notice digestive symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, or inappetence, it’s best to call your vet or the local emergency clinic to get advice.

How Can I Prevent My Cat from Eating Butter?

Cats are capable jumpers, which makes it more difficult to keep food out of reach. Be careful what you leave on your kitchen or dining room table, countertop, end table, or virtually any other surface that your cat can access. You should also put leftovers away promptly and avoid leaving food around unsupervised.

Butter may not be toxic and incredibly dangerous, but there’s plenty more that is poisonous to your cat. Getting in the habit of storing food away and never leaving anything within reach of your cat is a good practice to avoid emergencies in the future.

Can Cats Have Food with Butter on It?

As mentioned, butter isn’t a good choice for your cat under most circumstances. There are plenty of safe, healthy foods you can offer as a treat, including commercial cat treats or small cuts of cooked lean meat.

If your cat is already in the habit of begging and getting table scraps, you can replace your potentially unhealthy table food with options that are good for your cat, such as unseasoned vegetables, plain, cooked lean meat, or commercial treats.



Butter isn’t a significant hazard for your cat, but it’s definitely something you want to avoid your cat eating. Too much butter, margarine, or cooking oil gives your cat a high amount of fat that can lead to digestive upset or more serious conditions like pancreatitis.

Featured Image Credit: Felicity Tai, Pexels

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