A number of nuts are toxic to dogs, but cats are not so unlucky. Except for possibly causing some discomfort and minor side effects, nuts are not dangerous to cats -- at least not dangerous enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room due to the occasional indulgence.
Nuts are high in fat, which can be a problem if Kitty suddenly decides to consume a large amount of almonds, Brazil nuts or other nuts. Why? Because high-fat foods can cause tummy trouble in cats, leading to diarrhea and vomiting. Too much fat on a regular basis could cause pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis can lead to kidney failure and can be fatal if not caught and treated early. While just a few nuts are unlikely to cause much damage, it might be best not to risk it.
Since many packed nuts come salted -- and oversalted -- you also have to worry about a sodium excess if your kitty is eating nuts. The ASPCA points out that too much salt can cause sodium ion poisoning. Depending on how much salt is consumed and on Fluffy's weight and age, symptoms could be limited to vomiting or could escalate to tremors, then seizures and potentially death.
This is sticky one. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, affecting the nervous system and causing swollen limbs, tremors and gastrointestinal distress. However, there's no data regarding whether or not Macadamia nuts are dangerous to cats. This might be a question of "better safe than sorry," so keep Fluff away from Macadamia nuts.
Other Toxic Foods
An alarmingly high number of snack foods can be dangerous to cats. Besides most nuts, your cat should not feed on raisins -- they can cause kidney damage -- or chocolate, which contains theobromine and caffeine, two compounds that are toxic to cats. Keep your kitty away from mushrooms, anything containing garlic or onions, and foods heavy in sugar. All can cause varying degrees of problems.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.