Honey is a natural sweetener that is often used in human foods and drinks. It is made by bees from flower nectar and contains various nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In fact, it is loved and consumed by people all over the world for its sweetness and depth of flavor. Moreover, it is tasty, organic, and the best of all — extremely healthy. But what about cats?
While honey is healthy for us humans, does that mean it could also be eaten by felines? Does honey have any health benefits to offer for cats? Can cats eat honey?
Let’s find out!
Can Cats Consume Honey
The short answer is no. Although honey is not toxic to cats, they should not eat honey. In fact, it is not advisable to give honey to your cats. However, a little bit of accidental digestion of honey should not really do any harm to your cat. But it’s best to avoid intentionally feeding honey to your cats.
Now, this leads to an interesting question that whether cats like the taste of honey or not. Does honey taste the same to cats as it does to us humans?
But, Do Cats Like Honey?
Since honey is sweet, cats cannot taste it. Well, it’s strange but true. If you didn’t know, there is a reason cats prefer meaty wet food to dry kibble, and hate sugar entirely. The truth is, cats don’t have taste buds for sweetness. This is due to one of the two genes required to make up the sweetness receptor got permanently turned off hundreds of thousands of years ago.
It is something that got lost big-time. There is no going back when you have deletion since the part of the gene structure is vanished. So, coming back to the question — “do cats like honey?” Well, the taste of this sweet sticky food is totally lost on them, therefore, cats don’t usually like honey.
While you may want to share a tasty treat with your cat, but she won’t be able to enjoy the same experience as you. And as a matter of fact, carnivorous animals like the fat content that is offered in the food. So, if you ever find your cat licking your ice cream dish, it is because she likes the fat content in the ice cream and not that she is a sugar addict.
Thus, the answer is no, cats generally don’t like the taste of honey.
What Will Happen if My Cat Eats Honey?
While we don’t recommend that you feed your cat honey, if you do want to feed it to your feline as an immune system booster, then you should at least make sure that the honey is raw, locally-sourced, and not more than 1/2 teaspoon per day.
Likewise, it is best that you talk with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods in your cat’s diet.
However, it is not advisable to give store-bought honey to your cat. Since cats do not have glucokinase in the liver, which is a very essential enzyme that controls the levels of carbohydrate sugars in the body. And since carbohydrate has an effect on blood sugar levels, this matters.
Raised Blood Sugar Levels
Giving foods like honey with high sugar content can lead to increased blood sugar levels in your cat’s body. This is similar to human diabetics — it leads to significant long-term health problems for the feline.
Similarly, when a diabetic cat consumes glucose and is not able to process it properly, this gives rise to the accumulation of sugars in the blood stream. Sooner or later, the blood sugar content gets so high that the sugar is seen in the cat’s urine.
The same thing goes for a feline that is overweight or obese.
It has been reported that there were an estimated 60% of cats in the USA that were overweight or obese. So, it makes sense to cut down the amount of sugars your cat is getting in her daily diet.
And honey has a sugary content that does not provide your cat with any nutritional benefits. Therefore, there is no point in feeding honey to your obese cat.
Since honey is not toxic to cats, if your cat ingests some honey accidentally, it is unlikely to do any harm in the long-term. However, it can cause minor health complications, such as — Diarrhea, Vomiting, Abdominal pain, lethargy, or other symptoms of an upset stomach.
Moreover, there is also the issue of calories that honey holds plenty. And adding honey to your cat’s diet can also result in unwanted weight gain.
Although honey is not going to poison your kitty cat, it’s basically not a good idea for the majority to feed honey to your cat.
But What About Raw Honey? Can I Give Raw Honey to Cat?
There are many cat parents who think that honey holds a good amount of health benefits not only for them but also for their cats. Some pet parents believe that honey may help allergies in cats, but as of now, there isn’t any scientific research to back up this take.
While raw honey is a natural antioxidant that is known to boost the immune system, along with antibacterial properties. On the other hand, raw manuka honey has the ability to eliminate germs, giving it a reputation as an effective wound treatment.
And these benefits that honey offers to humans motivated some cat parents to turn to nature’s nectar for help for their cats.
So, if you decide on giving honey to your cat, you should consult your vet before doing so. And when testing honey in your adult cat’s diet, you should only start with a small quantity.
Likewise, if you consider using honey for any potential health benefits, only go for raw honey. Make sure it is raw and local-honey. And it is almost a guarantee that processed honey from store will offer zero benefits to your pet.
However, even with raw honey, there isn’t enough evidence to support that honey is effective at easing cat allergies to recommend it as a proper treatment.
Manuka honey, as the name suggests, is made by the bees found in New Zealand and Australia that are known to pollinate the manuka bush. Likewise, this kind of honey has the strongest antibacterial properties along with antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits.
In fact, some vets even use manuka honey or any other product containing it for the wound management. However, you should never try to treat your cat’s wound at home without the guidance of an experienced veterinarian.
Always Avoid Processed Honey
Never use processed honey on your cat, expecting that you will see any benefits. Any type of processed honey is stripped of nearly all health benefits.
Processed honey of any kind is stripped of nearly all health properties and is full of fillers.
In fact, the majority of honey found in any store has been heavily processed and pasteurized. With zero living health benefits, cross-contaminated in the manufacturing facilities, processed honey is completely useless and unnecessary to be used on your cat for any “potential health benefits” in any form.
Can Kittens Eat Honey? Is It Safe for Them?
Kittens should stay away from honey at all costs, as it is not safe for them. Kittens have a small and sensitive throat and stomach, which can make this viscous liquid hard to swallow and create more health problems.
Similar to how human babies are vulnerable to botulism, kittens are too. While there is no beneficial reason for feeding honey to kittens, there are many to avoid it. However, this does not mean that your adult cat can safely eat the honey. Even a little half teaspoon amount of honey can cause health problems in your cat’s digestive system.
For diabetic cats, honey can be fatal. If you start noticing vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, or other symptoms of an upset stomach in your cat, then stop honey entirely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is honey safe for cats to eat?
Honey is generally considered safe for cats to eat in small amounts. However, it is important to keep in mind that cats are obligate carnivores and do not require any sweeteners in their diet.
Is honey toxic to cats?
Honey is not toxic to cats, but some cats may have a sensitivity or allergy to honey or other bee products.
What are the benefits of feeding honey to cats?
Honey has some antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can help soothe sore throats and coughs. However, these benefits are not necessary or essential for a cat’s diet.
So, can cats eat honey? Well, the straightforward answer is no. Although honey is not going to poison your kitty cat, it is usually not a good idea to give honey to your cat in any form or way.
Moreover, cats don’t generally like honey. However, if you still prefer feeding honey to your cat as an immune system booster, always make sure to only give her raw honey that is locally-sourced, and no more than half a teaspoon a day.
Ultimately, it is best that you talk with your veterinarian before feeding raw honey or any other new foods to your cat.
- Association for Pet Obesity Prevention — Pet Obesity Prevention
- Can cats eat honey? — Better Pet
- Honey — Wikipedia
Brenda Castillo is a volunteer groomer of a local pet welfare group in New York and a regular contributor to CatLikesBest. She likes to read & write about cat grooming. She also guardians two chubby tabbies, Belly & Puma.