Can Cats Eat Honey? (Solved & Explained!)

Honey isn’t toxic for cats, but it’s not completely harmless either. Honey can cause digestive problems, contribute to weight gain, and exacerbate diabetes, and it can be potentially lethal for a kitten. If you want to feed a cat honey, you must do so carefully.

The rest of this article will explain the positive and negative health effects of honey for cats.

Why Honey Can Be Bad for Cats

Any breed of cat is capable of eating both liquid and crystallized honey. It’s not toxic for cats in the same way that alcohol, grapes, or chocolate are, so a couple of licks won’t automatically be fatal, but that hardly means that honey is completely safe for cats.

Because they are more carnivorous than humans, cats process protein and fat better than non-protein sugar sources like lactose, fructose, and glucose. Since honey lacks protein and is high in natural sugars, it will be difficult for your cat to successfully digest and process any honey it may come across.

This is also part of the reason why you shouldn’t feed a cat candy or other sugar-heavy foods. Fortunately, your cat won’t miss out much on the taste of treats like this, since most cats are “sweet-blind,” meaning they are unable to detect the sweetness in these kinds of food. You won’t be depriving your cat of a mouth-watering treat if you refuse to feed it honey.

If you’re confused because you’ve seen your kitty nom on ice cream or other desserts, the explanation is that the dish likely had a high fat content, which your cat is genetically predisoposed to enjoy. If your cat has pawed or meowed at you for honey or similar foods in the past, this may be a result of typical, adorable feline curiosity.

Potential Health Benefits of Honey

Some people consider feeding honey to their cats due to its potential health benefits, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties
  • Potential allergy relief (especially for sore throats)
  • High levels of immune-system-boosting anti-oxidants

Thanks to these various properties, honey is a fantastic food source for humans in a variety of situations.

What Honey Can Do to a Cat

However, since a cat’s body struggles so much to process the sugars found in honey, whatever relief or health benefits that honey may provide could be vastly outweighed by the side effects and even physical pain caused by eating honey.

For example, cats that eat honey may experience stomach aches, diarrhea, and vomiting due to difficulty digesting the food.

Apart from these digestive problems, honey can have negative long-term health effects. Thanks to its high levels of sugar, honey can cause your cat’s insulin levels to spike.

According to Medical News Today, one tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories, so over a long enough period of time, feeding your cat honey will probably lead to unhealthy weight gain. If your cat is already overweight or has diabetes, honey is the last thing it needs.

Never Feed a Kitty Honey!

In the most extreme cases, such as with a young kitty with an immature immune system or an elderly cat with a weakened immune system, honey can even cause botulism, which is a potentially lethal sickness caused by the natural bacteria in honey, which an adult cat’s immune system can handle but a kitty cannot.

In fact, honey poses a possibly lethal problem for kittens even before it reaches their digestive tracts. Thanks to their tiny throats and miniscule stomachs, kittens may choke during the process of merely eating the honey. In short, don’t bother with the risks that come with feeding honey to a vulnerable kitten.

In fact, until they’ve been weaned, it’s best not to feed a kitten anything except for its mother’s milk or a suitable milk-replacement formula, and even a weaned kitty should stick to its own specially-designed kitten food until it has reached the adult stage.

What If Your Cat Has Already Eaten Some Honey?

If you cat has already eaten some honey, watch it carefully for any of the above symptoms or any subtle indicators that your pet is feeling unwell, such as an unusual level of lethargy. Call your veterinarian if you see any troubling signs or otherwise feel like you need your cat to be checked out.

Fortunately, a healthy cat should be able to recover from eating a small amount of honey after only a few hours of an upset tummy. The only exception is a kitten, which you should immediately check for any signs of difficulty breathing. After that, call your vet about next steps.

Feeding Your Cat Honey

Despite all of this, you may still feel a desire to try feeding your cat honey just to see how it turns out. Perhaps your pet suffers so badly from seasonal allergies that you decide the potential sore throat relief is worth the risk.

What to Look For

If this is the case, talk to your vet first, and if you get the go-ahead about introducing this new food, feed your kitty no more than one half-teaspoon of raw honey every day. If it is available and affordable, opt for locally sourced honey as well.

For antibacterial properties, manuka honey, which is derived from Australia and New Zealand, is second to none. Manuka has been lauded in the homeopathic community for its anti-inflammatory benefits and high levels of antioxidants, and raw manuka honey has even been used for wound treatment!

What to Avoid

On the other hand, processed honey is unlikely to provide any significant benefits to your cat. The pasteurization and processing of the honey will likely have reduced any of its unique health benefits, and processed foods transported over a long distance have a greater chance, however remote, of being cross-contaminated versus locally sourced foods.

Non-Honey Options

If you still want your cat to receive a healthy dose of antioxidants in its diet but you don’t want to risk sending it to the vet through eating honey, consider other nutritious foods like pumpkin or broccoli, which your cat won’t have trouble digesting and might even grow to enjoy. You can also search online for DIY treats to give your cat extra variety, risk-free.