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We all know cats can’t have chocolate and other dangerous foods, but it is also important to stay aware of the herbs you may be using in your home and kitchen. Additionally, if your furry friend is an outdoor cat, they may accidentally ingest toxic herbs from the garden or around the neighborhood. Learning about what types of herbs are toxic to cats is the easiest way to keep your cat happy and healthy.
Discover which specific herbs are toxic to cats so you know what to look out for in the garden, in your local area, and in any scraps of food your feline friend may get a hold of. Additionally, we’ll discuss what to do if your cat eats a toxic herb and offer some suggestions for cat-friendly herbs you can use around your home.
- 13 Herbs Toxic to Cats
- How to Treat Herb Poisoning
- How to Prevent Herb Poisoning in Cats
- Non-Toxic Herbs: What Herbs are Safe for Cats?
- Final Notes
13 Herbs Toxic to Cats
Also known as Lavandula angustifolia,1 Lavender is commonly grown in gardens due to its pretty purple bloom of flowers and soft scent. Cats may ingest small quantities of this plant and be fine, but larger amounts will upset your cat’s stomach and could cause nausea and vomiting.
2. Garlic, Onion & Chives
Garlic, onion and chives (Allium sativum, Allium cepa and Allium schoenoprasum)1 are all toxic to cats. Consuming chives and onion, whether in powder form or the regular herb itself, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as red blood cell damage.2 Meanwhile, garlic is extremely toxic to cats and can cause vomiting, an increased heart rate, or hemolytic anemia.2
If your cat ingests marijuana, also known as Cannabis sativa, it can have very severe adverse effects. From vomiting, to low blood pressure, to hypersalivation or even to seizures, comas or death, the effects of marijuana on your furry-friend can be extremely intense and unpleasant for them. This includes all forms of marijuana, whether embedded in edible goods or the herbal plant itself.
4. St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort or Klamath weed4 is toxic to cats with symptoms often resulting in photosensitization or ulcerative and exudative dermatitis after contact or ingestion with the herbal plant.3 Stay aware of whether or not this plant is in the local vicinity of your cat’s walking paths, especially if they are an outdoor cat. This herbal plant is a tangle of green weeds and often sprouts bright yellow flowers.
Foxglove is also known as Digitalis purpurea1 and can have severe adverse effects on cats. These include cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, or even death.4 Commonly blooming with pink or white flowers, these tall plants are distinct and recognizable.
This popular cooking herb has a scientific name of Origanum vulgare hirtum and will unfortunately not digest well in cats. Although it tastes great to humans, this herb can upset your cat’s stomach and may result in mild vomiting and diarrhea.5
This green, leafy plant has the scientific name of Origanum majorana and is commonly used in Greek and Italian cooking. However tasty it may to be humans, unfortunately this plant is toxic to cats and can result in nausea and vomiting.6
This plant has a number of other names, including Wormseed, Jesuit's Tea, Mexican Tea, Paico and its scientific name, Chenopodium ambrosioides. This herb is particularly toxic when ingested as a concentrated oil, leading to diarrhea and vomiting. Although the toxicity is less potent in herb form, it is still not suggested to allow your cats to ingest this herb.7
Another popular aromatic herb is tarragon, often used in essential oils due to its calming scent. However, unfortunately this herb, especially in oil form, is toxic to cats and can lead to nausea and vomiting.8 When using this herb as an essential oil, ensure that your cats are far away and cannot ingest it.
10. Bay Laurel
Like other herbs in this list, bay laurel often comes in essential oils form and can be toxic when ingested by cats. Whole leaves are also dangerous to cats and can cause obstruction, vomiting and diarrhea, especially in large quantities.9 Although this leaf may look unsuspecting, it can cause a real upset to your cat’s stomach.
This beautiful flower that looks like a daisy and is often used in skincare products and teas, comes in many forms. From oils to beauty products to the plant itself, ingestion of chamomile can lead to severe effects in cats. These include contact dermatitis and allergic reactions, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and with long term use, even bleeding.10
12. Lemon Grass
Lemon grass or Cymbopogon citratus (its scientific name) can come in the form of an essential oil and can cause an upset stomach in dogs and cats. Although the reaction may not be as intense as other herbs, the toxicity levels can be very unpleasant for your feline companion.11 This herb looks similar to a spring onion with a white bulb root and long green stems.
Another common cooking herb is mint. Evident in essential oils, skincare, cooking, and grown wildly and in gardens, this fresh smelling herb may be useful for us but is unfortunately toxic to cats. Large amounts of this leafy green herb plant can unfortunately cause vomiting and diarrhea.12
How to Treat Herb Poisoning in Cats
If your furball happens to ingest one of the herb plants which are toxic to cats, you must contact your veterinarian immediately. Stay aware of the signs of herb poisoning (most commonly nausea, vomiting and diarrhea but this varies with each plant) and ensure you contact professional help immediately.
Likewise, you can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.
How to Prevent Herb Poisoning in Cats
The best way to prevent herb poisoning in cats is by knowing which herbal plants are in your garden, kitchen, or local vicinity and could pose a risk to your cat. Identify symptoms in your cat early on and work to identify what caused it.
When choosing herbs for your home or garden, you should also always be cautious about how easily accessible they are to your cat. Remember that cats can jump to high places and squeeze through tight cracks so it is best to remove any toxic plants from your home where possible or place them in areas that have very restricted access.13
If you want to provide a safe place for your cat to experience the outdoors without access to the garden and potentially dangerous plants, you might want to build a catio for your cat. A catio is a safe outdoor enclosure that allows them to explore within a confined area.
Non-Toxic Herbs: What Herbs are Safe for Cats?
However, there are a number of herbs which are not toxic to cats. Thyme is a good example, with its fragrant smell an essential to cooking and a beautiful addition to your garden.1 Other herbs such as sage, saffron, cinnamon, rosemary, parsley, basil, pampas grass, jasmine, great willow herb, and dill are all examples of non-toxic herbs to cats.1 Replace any herbs currently growing in your garden with a cat-friendly option to prevent any harm or discomfort from coming to your precious cat.
Additionally, for indoor decor, there are a range of houseplants that are safe for cats and will not cause them any stomach upset or issues. These include the beautiful, tropical looking parlor palm, the colorful and tranquil orchid, as well as the impressive and luscious ponytail palm.
Finding options that are safe for your cat will make home life more relaxing and there are still some great options for beautiful houseplant decor - no need to sacrifice your style!
What other plants are toxic to cats?
There are numerous non-herbal plants that are also toxic to cats. These include popular wild plants like english ivy, daffodils, and lilies. To reiterate, remaining aware of which plants are toxic to cats is the most efficient way to prevent poisoning. Read through our other Dutch articles to learn more about which plants are toxic to cats.
What plants are safe for cats?
Likewise, there are numerous plants which are safe for cats - you have lots of options to choose from. You can still fill your home with beautiful fauna and have a happy cat. These include the unique, intricate rattlesnake plant, the bromeliad with their bright, rich flowers and the polka dot plant, which comes in unique shades of red, green and even blue.
How can I protect my cat from toxic herbs? Stay aware of the risks associated with certain herbs and keep on top of their whereabouts around your home, garden, and local area. If you suspect a plant is making your cat ill, try to identify the plant and get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Removing any toxic plants or herbs from inside your home is a sure fire way to keep your cat safe and for outdoor cats, a cat enclosure is another great option if you are aware of dangerous herb plants in your local area.
So, are any herbs toxic to cats? The answer is yes, the 13 herbs we have listed can lead to an upset stomach and an unwell cat. Keep those herbs far away from your home and garden, replacing them with pet-friendly alternatives like dill, thyme and rosemary - fragrant herbs that are equally as aromatic. If you suspect your cat has ingested any dangerous herbs, keep an eye on them for any symptoms or tell-tale signs and contact a veterinarian if you notice any.
If you are concerned about any houseplants in your home and the effect they may have on your kitty, try our online services and talk to a licensed veterinarian today to give yourself some peace at mind. Along with our telemedicine services, we offer a range of vet-approved nutritional products, cat care essentials and medicines - everything your cat needs to remain healthy, happy and active. Got other cat-related questions? Consult our blogs to learn more about these loveable bundles of fur, or talk to one of our on-hand veterinarians who are happy to answer any and all of your questions.
“Toxic & Non-Toxic Plant List - Cats” ASPCA https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list
America’s College Veterinary Pharmacy https://vetmeds.org/pet-poison-control-list/onions-garlic-and-chives/
Eichstadt, Lauren. “10 Garden Plants That Are Toxic to Pets” UCDavis, 20 March 2017 https://www.ucdavis.edu/one-health/garden-plants-toxic-to-pets