Pecan pie may have its roots in Texas, but these days it’s a Thanksgiving staple in many homes in the U.S. (and a delicious dessert found year-round).1 This pie falls under the “sugar pies” classification, which makes sense considering some of its main ingredients include Karo syrup, brown sugar, or molasses (in addition to regular sugar). And while it may be a decadent treat for you, is it one for your cat, too?
Can cats eat pecan pie? Is it safe for them? The answer is yes, they can have a bite or two—in moderation, pecan pie should be perfectly safe. However, pecan pies (or any pies) aren’t healthy for your favorite feline to consume.
Here’s a closer look at the ingredients found in pecan pies and how they can affect your kitty.
Ingredients in Pecan Pie
Pecan pie doesn’t contain a lot of ingredients, but the ones it does have aren’t very healthy for your cat. Here we’ll take a look at the main ingredients of the classic recipe for this dessert and the reasons they aren’t so great for your pet.
Pecans aren’t toxic to your cat, so if it manages to snag one while you’re making a pie, there shouldn’t be cause for concern. That said, pecans have a high fat content, which could lead to stomach upset in felines if too many are eaten. And nuts, in general, aren’t the best for cats, as nuts are likely to be a choking hazard for cats; plus, felines are more prone to ending up with obstructions in the intestines and stomach due to nuts.2 You also need to be careful with pecans because they can mold, and this mold can result in gastrointestinal issues, damage to the nerves, and even seizures in cats.
Pecan pie contains a lot of sugar. It involves using either Karo syrup or molasses and brown sugar, plus regular sugar on top of that. The first thing to know about felines and sugar is that our furry friends don’t have the ability to taste sweetness. Studies have found that cats don’t have the receptors on the tongue that register the sweet taste. That means sugar probably isn’t going to be one of your kitty’s favorite things, which is probably a good thing considering consuming too much sugar can result in vomiting and diarrhea in your pet. Plus, as with humans, animals can have long-term effects from eating too much sugar, such as diabetes.
Butter isn’t harmful to your cat, but it isn’t healthy for it, either. Butter is fat, which is bad for our pets, and can lead to gastroenteritis or even pancreatitis if eaten in abundance.
Vanilla Extract, Bourbon, and Other Alcohol
These ingredients are where you could run into bigger problems. Vanilla extract contains quite a bit of ethyl alcohol (34%), and alcohol is a big no-no for cats (which is why a pecan pie that also contains bourbon, rum, whisky, or other alcohol shouldn’t be given to your pet). A feline can easily suffer from alcohol poisoning after a single teaspoon of alcohol! Because pecan pie is baked, some of the alcohol in it will be burned off, so if your cat only has a bite, it should be okay. But if the cat gets its paws on a whole slice, you might see an upset stomach, lethargy, and disorientation. So, be careful!
What to Feed Your Cat Instead
Instead of giving kitty a bite or two of your pecan pie, stick with a cat’s ideal diet. Felines are obligate carnivores, meaning they need to get most of their nutrients from meat. That means a cat food made from meat that meets the requirements put forth by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is the best bet for your pet. A high quality cat food that meets these guidelines will provide your kitty with all the nutrition it needs.
And no matter what type of food you’re feeding your cat, make sure you aren’t overfeeding it. Obesity in felines is a big problem, with 30–35% of cats in North America being obese. And obese cats are more likely to have shorter lifespans and more health issues than those at an ideal weight.
Your kitty might enjoy pecan pie, but it isn’t very healthy for it. While most of the ingredients are technically safe for felines (although the vanilla extract and any added alcohol may not be), these ingredients won’t benefit your pet. Rather than giving your cat pecan pie, stick to regular, high-quality cat food that meets all its nutritional needs!
Featured Image Credit: Keighla Exum, Unsplash