Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a popular herb that adds flavor and aroma to many dishes around the world. But can cats eat cilantro? Is it safe and healthy for them? Or should you keep this herb away from your feline friend? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.
Can Cats Eat Cilantro?
The short answer is yes, cats can eat cilantro. According to the ASPCA, cilantro is not toxic or poisonous to cats, dogs, or horses. However, that does not mean that cilantro is a necessary or beneficial part of your cat’s diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need animal protein to survive and thrive. They do not require any plant foods to stay healthy, and they may not even be able to digest them properly.
Cilantro may have some nutrients and antioxidants that may benefit humans, but cats are not built to eat anything other than meat and will not get the same benefits. Cilantro may have a lemony flavor and support the cat’s immune system, but it is not essential for their diet. Too much can cause digestive or heart problems in some cats. If you want to give cilantro to your cat, give them only a small portion, either raw or cooked.
Health Benefits of Cats Eating Cilantro
While cilantro is not a vital part of your cat’s diet, it may have some health benefits if given in moderation. Some of the possible benefits are:
- Cilantro may help detoxify the body by binding to heavy metals and removing them from the tissues. Heavy metals such as lead, aluminum, and arsenic can cause various health problems in cats, such as neurological disorders, kidney damage, and infertility.
- Cilantro may help reduce stress and anxiety in cats by stimulating the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Cilantro extract has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects in animal studies.
- Cilantro may help lower blood sugar levels in cats by stimulating an enzyme that removes sugar from the blood. This may be beneficial for cats with diabetes or obesity.
- Cilantro may help prevent foodborne illnesses in cats by killing harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. Cilantro contains dodecenal, an antimicrobial compound that can fight infections caused by tainted food.
Should I Give My Cat Cilantro?
If your cat likes cilantro and does not show any adverse reactions to it, you can give it to them as an occasional treat or supplement. However, you should not feed your cat cilantro regularly, in large amounts, or if they show no interest in it – Do not force feed your cat cilantro.
Some things to keep in mind when giving cilantro to your cat are:
- Wash the cilantro thoroughly before feeding it to your cat to remove any dirt, pesticides, or parasites.
- Cut the cilantro into small pieces or mince it finely to prevent choking or intestinal blockage.
- Avoid giving your cat any dish with cilantro that has spices, condiments, or seasonings, as they may be harmful to them.
- Monitor your cat’s behavior and health after eating cilantro and look for any signs of discomfort, such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, or irregular heartbeat.
- Consult your veterinarian before giving cilantro to your cat if they have any medical conditions or allergies.
Why Do Cats Nibble On Cilantro?
Some cats may nibble on cilantro out of curiosity or boredom. They may be attracted by the chewy texture and the distinctive scent of the herb. Some cats may also nibble on cilantro to get some extra fiber or roughage in their diet. This may help them with their digestion and hairball prevention.
However, not all cats will be drawn to cilantro. Some cats may dislike the taste or smell of the herb and avoid it altogether. Some cats may also be allergic to cilantro and experience itching, swelling, or breathing difficulties after eating it. If your cat shows any signs of distress after nibbling on cilantro, stop giving it to them and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Can Cilantro Cause Health Problems in Cats?
While cilantro is generally safe for cats in small amounts, it can cause health problems in some cases. Some of the possible risks are:
- Cilantro can cause gastrointestinal issues in some cats, especially if they eat too much of it. The herb may irritate the stomach lining and cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, or bloating. This can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in cats.
- Cilantro can cause heart problems in some cats, especially if they have a pre-existing condition. The herb may affect the heart rate and rhythm and cause arrhythmia, palpitations, or cardiac arrest. This can be fatal for cats.
- Cilantro can cause allergic reactions in some cats, especially if they are sensitive to it. The herb may trigger an immune response and cause inflammation, itching, swelling, or breathing difficulties. This can be life-threatening for cats.
Types of Cat-Safe Cilantro
There are no “types” of cilantro that are unsafe for cats; we’re more concerned with what else in on the herb.
Some store-bought cilantro may have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals that you definitely don’t want your cat to eat. As a general rule, if you grow your own cilantro, it will be perfectly safe for cats.
It’s also fairly easy to grow. I don’t have a green thumb and still grew so much that we had to give it away to neighbors. Our cats didn’t seem to care about it or mess with it – they were far more interested in the mint growing next to it.