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Can Cats Eat Margarine? (Is it Dangerous or Toxic?)

If you are looking out for food options for your cat, you may be curious about margarine. Is this even possible for cats to eat?

Can cats eat margarine?

Cats can eat margarine. But, it is not a good choice for their diet. This is because it contains a high level of fat and, has a lot of calories. Also, it has very few nutritional benefits for cats.

Now that you know that cats can eat margarine, but it’s not good for them, keep reading to learn the difference between margarine and butter. Also, the benefits and risks of eating margarine, and so much more.

What is margarine?

Margarine in a tub.

Margarine in a tub.

Before I explain if margarine is ok for your cat, let me clarify what it is. I understand that you may feel that you know this already, but do you know where it was originally made, and why it was first made? Maybe not.

Margarine is a spread used for cooking. For example, baking. It was originally made to taste and look like butter. To this day it is regarded as a butter replacement. This is also beneficial for people with dairy allergies (more on this later).

According to Wikipedia, It was made back in 1869, in response to a challenge made by Napoleon III, the emperor. There was a need for a butter replacement for the military and working-class people.

So, now you have some history of butter, keep reading to learn why people often get margarine and butter mixed up.

What is the difference between butter and margarine?

Now that you have some background on margarine, I will explain the difference between it and butter. At a glance, they look the same, and you would easily be forgiven for thinking they are the same.

Butter is a dairy product and, is known for its high saturated fat content. Margarine, on the other hand,  is based on plant oils. In these modern times, it is mainly refined vegetable oil and water. It is a processed product (more on this later).

So you have learned the difference between margarine and butter. But, you need to know exactly what is in margarine to make a call, so keep reading.

What is the nutritional content of margarine?

In this section, I will share with you the nutritional content of margarine. There are many different types of margarine on the market these days, so understand that these ingredients can vary. So, take this as a guide.

Source: USDA (per 100g) *

Name Amount Unit
Calories 717 Kcal
Protein 0.02 g
Carbs 0.07 g
Fat 81 g
Sodium 2 mg

* See the original source for the full list

So, now you have the nutritional content of margarine. But, getting a list of data is just one part. Keep reading to understand the benefits of it.

Are there any benefits of margarine?

In this section, I will explain the benefits of margarine. This is based on general facts, as well as focused on the impact on cats.

Polyunsaturated content

Margarine has polyunsaturated fat. According to this site, polyunsaturated fat is a potentially better option than saturated fat, which is in butter. They say that it has been linked to a 17% reduction of heart-related health issues when saturated fats have been replaced with it.

May lower LDL cholesterol

Some margarine brands contain phytosterols or stanols, according to this site, this is also present in vegetable oils used in margarine. It is known to lower LDL cholesterol.

Good for dairy allergies

For people with dairy allergies, butter is not an option. But, with some kinds of margarine, this allows them to have a viable replacement. This is helpful for baking and cooking in general, for people with allergies.

The Taste

In my opinion, some kinds of margarine, have great taste. And, you may find your cat likes the taste (more on this later). However, I have to say, butter is better, in my opinion. But, as a replacement product, it is not bad.

In Summary

So, there are a few benefits of margarine for us and your cat, but the question is, do the risks outweigh the benefits? Keep reading to see.

Are there any risks with margarine?

Now that you understand the benefits of margarine. Let me explain the negative side, the risks. This will help you to understand if it is a viable choice for your cat.

There are three key risks I will focus on:

  • Transient fat
  • Lack of vitamins &minerals
  • Obesity

Transient fat

These transient fats fatty acids are unfortunately made by man. Part of the process to create margarine is to convert the liquid vegetable oil into the solid form you are familiar with. This process results in transient fats.

There is a high chance that you have heard of these transient fats before. Mainly from negative press reports about its links to chronic diseases.

Lack of vitamins & minerals

Butter may contain fat, but because it is more of a natural dairy product you get vitamins and minerals. Such as vitamin A and K. However, with margarine, because it is processed, you do not get this. This is a disadvantage because of the benefit these vitamins and minerals provide to us and cats.


As you have seen from the nutritional content earlier, margarine has high calories and fat content. One of the big concerns is obesity. Because it is so calorie-dense, if it is used regularly, it is easy to lead to obesity.

In Summary

So, you have learned that margarine has high levels of transient fats, lacks vitamins & minerals, and if overused could lead to obesity. Keep reading to see my overall opinion on margarine.

Should you feed your cat margarine?

Now that you have all the facts I will give you my opinion on margarine to help you decide if it’s a good idea for your cat or not.

No, you should not feed your cat margarine. This is because it has a high-calorie content, and is loaded with fat. It also has no beneficial nutritional content. It is better to focus on foods that offer a more balanced and healthy content.

So, now that you know my opinion, for those of you with kittens, you may be wondering if the same applies. Keep reading to see.

Should you feed your kitten margarine?

So, by now you should know my opinion on cats and margarine. But, what about kittens, should you consider feeding them this?

No, I would not advise you to feed your kitten margarine. This is for the same reasons as adult cats, it has too much transient fat, high in calories. And, kittens, in particular, need an especially healthy and focused diet because they are still growing.

It should be clear now why I don’t advise margarine for cats. But, keep reading for my responses to some commonly asked questions related to margarine.

Why is the sodium content in margarine not good for cats?

Sodium is something that we’ve gotten used to in just about everything that we eat, but it’s not good for us in large amounts, nor is it good for your cat.

Just 41mg of salt is what is considered to be a toxic level for your cat and when this level is reached, it starts to stress their kidneys out a little, and you’ll probably see them drinking extra water because they are starting to feel a little dehydrated and possibly ill from the effects.

Now, with this in mind, a pat of margarine (just one little square you’ve cut off with a knife) has 26 calories in it, along with 39 milligrams of sodium. That’s just 2 milligrams short of toxic for your cat, so even a simple pat of margarine can have serious consequences if it becomes a regular everyday thing!

How can I keep my cat away from margarine?

Keeping your cat out of the margarine can be tricky, especially if they are allowed on the table. The easiest method is probably going to be just closing the lid immediately after use, making sure that the bread you are putting the margarine on is utilized to remove the margarine residue from your knife.

Alternately, a weighted margarine tub lets you easily access it, while your cat will have a harder time opening it up to get at the margarine inside. Finally, you can just add margarine at the counter, then put it in the fridge and simply guard your food until it’s eaten.

This will work with most kitties although as a ‘nuclear option’, you could also simply dine somewhere where there is a door that you can shut tight until you’ve had your meal.

Your kitty might not like this, but if you get in the habit of giving them a kitty treat after breakfast then they will surely learn to expect this and forgive you.

Related questions

In this section, I will answer some questions related to the cat’s diet, dairy, and margarine. If you have any other related questions feel free to contact me.

Do cats like dairy products?

Cheese board.

Cheese board.

Yes, cats do like dairy products. Most cats are attracted to the taste, fats, and protein it delivers. But, cats like a lot of things that may or may not be good for them. And, in most cases, dairy is not the best choice for them.

Now that you know that cats may like dairy, keep reading to see why I say dairy may not be the best choice for them.

Is dairy bad for cats?

Dairy is not good for cats. This is because most cats are lactose-intolerant. This means their body cannot process the dairy well which may result in an upset stomach or even diarrhea. lactose-intolerants are also seen in humans as well but are less common.

This lactose intolerance in cats is one of the reasons there is a special formula for kittens used in their gruel (Click here to learn how to make kitten gruel).

Was margarine banned in Canada?

Yes, margarine was banned in Canada. This was originally back in 1886, due to harsh opposition from dairy farmers. It was temporarily lifted between 1917 & 1923, due to wartime shortages. Then became legal in 1948.

It sounds shocking from the heading, but the Canadian margarine ban was more political, rather than a health issue.

What Could Happen if My Cat Licked Some Margarine?

While a lick of margarine seems like very little, it has a higher impact on your cat’s tiny body over time than you might think. This is especially the case if you are allowing your kitty up on the table, as these little sneaks can and will swipe the occasional extra treat.

Let’s take a look at how that can play out healthwise.

Health issues (Inflammation, High cholesterol, etc)

Margarine is processed especially for human consumption, and as such the nutritional value for an obligate carnivore, such as your cat, is pretty much nil. This can lead down the line to become more prone to inflammation, and then there’s the cholesterol factor.

High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and a higher probability of a stroke! Remember, your cat only weighs 8 to 10 pounds, so what is considered a ‘harmless’ serving for you is not as safe for your kitty.

Unable to digest large amounts due to body size

If your cat swipes a big chunk of margarine, they might sit about, looking satisfied for a little while but then something happens – the margarine doesn’t digest efficiently. This may result in vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal stress in the form of a nasty tummy ache. This is not something that you want for your cat.

Feel full and avoid quality food

Just as you tell human children not to ‘sill up on candy/snacks’, so does the same concept apply to your feline friend. Cats that eat too much margarine may turn their noses up at nutritious food, mostly because the poorly-digesting chunk of margarine is still making them feel full.


An adult, neutered, a 10-pound cat needs somewhere in the avenue of 200 to 240 calories daily. Many cat owners are well-aware of this and even practice the 10% rule, which says that a cat’s treats should not exceed 10% of their daily caloric intake.

With that in mind, 1 single pat of margarine has 26 calories – which is already more than 10% of your kitty’s daily calories. Add in assorted treats throughout the day and your cat is well on their way to obesity in the future – and the score of health problems and dieting fuss to treat them which come with that condition.

It’s better to leave that margarine out of your cat’s diet – there are plenty of healthy alternatives out there and some that your cat will like even more than that margarine.

Why Does My Cat Like Margarine?

Your cat likes margarine because it can smell the fat and protein in the product.

Fat and protein are hard to find in the wild. Although your cat is domesticated, it has still inherited many instincts, and the impulse to hunt and eat anything with fat and protein is a strong one.

Unfortunately, cats are lactose intolerant, so eating margarine or any other kind of dairy (other than kittens consuming their mother’s milk at birth) is harmful to your cat.

So, it’s important to keep your cat away from margarine, even though they may be attracted to it.

Can You Give a Cat Butter for Hairballs?

Butter is a popular remedy for hairballs, but it shouldn’t be used.

Unless your cat is suffering from a lodged hairball, avoid using butter or anything at all to help your cat process the hairball, especially when they are young.

Cats have a particular technique for removing hairballs, and they get better at it over time. Too much help with coughing up hairballs could mean that your cat comes to rely on it.

Dairy and butter are especially bad for your cats’ digestive system. Avoid giving them these home remedies in any case at all.

Can Cats Eat “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter”

No, it’s not recommended to give your cat “I can’t believe it’s not butter” because this brand is margarine, which can harm your cat.

Cats should not eat margarine or butter of any kind at all. Cats are lactose intolerant and cannot digest dairy well. There is also nothing good in this brand in terms of vitamins, so it is best just to stick with your cats’ regular food.

If you want to feed your cat a treat, there are plenty of safe alternatives you can choose from that your cat will enjoy equally as much.

How Can Vegetable Oil Affect a Cat?

Vegetable oil is not toxic to cats but it can give them an upset stomach.

Unlike margarine, your cat won’t vomit if they eat vegetable oil, but it can lead to stomach aches because of the high-fat content and consistency. Pure oil is not something cats are used to processing.

If your cat eats vegetable oil, it is best to keep an eye on them for the next few hours and stick to giving them just regular cat food, no additional treats.

Any symptoms of vegetable oil should pass quickly, and not do any long-term harm to your cat.

Lindsey Browlingdon