Garlic has long been used by humans both as a culinary spice and as a remedy for a whole range of ailments.
In recent times it has been claimed that garlic can help humans control high blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and even ward off some cancers, but in contrast, is garlic bad for cats?
It’s easy to assume that garlic must be equally good for your feline friend right? Well, not exactly. In this article, you’ll find out whether garlic is poisonous to cats, what happens if your cat eats it, and if garlic helps to get rid of fleas. The answers might surprise you.
So, is garlic bad for cats? Yes, garlic is very toxic to cats, even in small doses. It can cause their organs serious damage and even lead to death in severe cases.
Why Is Garlic So Bad For Cats?
Garlic belongs to the onion genus, Allium, which includes leeks, chives, and shallots. These vegetables are perfectly tasty and digestible for humans but felines can’t digest them the way we do.
If cats do eat vegetables from the Allium-family they can develop hemolytic anemia. Like anemia in humans, the condition causes problems with your cat’s red blood cells. If cats eat garlic, it can also cause them severe gastroenteritis that will lead to vomiting and possibly suffering bouts of diarrhea.
You should not feed your cat with any of the Allium-family of vegetables but garlic is perhaps the most toxic of them for your cat, about five times more toxic than onions for example.
It’s difficult to guesstimate how much garlic a cat can consume, or any other Allium vegetable for that matter, because it depends on a number of factors including your cat’s age, weight, breed, and current health.
As with humans cats are more resilient in their younger, stronger years than in their infant or older, frailer years.
Is It Okay To Lightly Season Your Cat’s Food With Garlic?
Cats will eat most of what you put in front of them and some cats may actually even enjoy the strong aroma and taste of garlic, bearing in mind they have no way of knowing how bad it potentially is for them.
You should never feed a kitten with any amount of garlic because it will simply not yet be strong enough to fight off any adverse reaction to the garlic and could prove fatal.
However, if your cat is fully grown and healthy then a small amount of seasoning probably won’t do your cat any harm.
That said, remember toxins have a way of building up in the system so seasoning your kitty’s food with garlic could cause a build-up in their system over time and eventually become extremely detrimental to their health.
Cats will eat almost anything and so there really is no need to season their food but if your feline is a fussy-eater and adding a bit of seasoning helps them appreciate their meal, try alternatives to garlic like the juice from canned fish such as tuna, anchovies, and mackerel for example.
Cats love the strong, pungent aroma of fish and it’s not in any way harmful to them.
Can Cats Eat Garlic To Help Get Rid Of Fleas?
Most pet owners prefer natural, non-chemical interventions to rid their pets of fleas. It is perhaps safer than using potentially dangerous chemicals around the home.
Garlic has become popular among dog owners, for example, as a natural way of ridding their pets of fleas. It’s a harmless vegetable for dogs to eat and some quite like it in fact.
The reason that garlic is so effective as a flea repellent is because fleas can’t stand the taste of it. If a dog has been eating garlic the flea simply won’t be interested in latching on to the animal.
It stands to reason, then, that garlic might also be a good way to also rid your cat of fleas and indeed you will find some articles online recommending it as an effective treatment.
However, you should remember that even small amounts of Allium-family vegetables can be potentially toxic to cats, so it’s never worth the risk.
Besides which, in order for garlic to be an effective flea repellent, it needs to first build up in your pet’s system and that is something you definitely don’t want to be doing with your cat.
Likewise, don’t consider washing your cat with garlic. Not only will this not be effective in repelling fleas, the garlic may still be absorbed into your cat’s system and prove dangerous, and it will also stink your home out.
What Happens If My Cat Accidentally Eats Garlic?
The first thing is not to panic. Speed is of the essence but blind panic won’t help the situation.
It could take several days for your cat to start showing symptoms of toxicity from ingesting garlic. Such symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, general weakness, and loss of appetite.
You should get to a veterinary surgery as quickly as possible and tell them when and where your cat ingested garlic and how much. If the garlic was consumed by your cat fairly recently, the vet may try to induce your cat to vomit and bring the garlic back up.
Depending on how bad the toxic effects are your pet may require urgent medical interventions such as IV fluids and oxygen therapy.
The easiest solution to this, of course, is to always keep any garlic in your home securely locked away from your pet. Cats are naturally curious creatures and will try eating almost anything once so if they find your garlic, they will likely indulge themselves.
Hopefully, this article has clearly answered any questions you had regarding garlic and cats.
To sum it up, you should avoid leaving it lying around your house, feeding it to your cats in any form, or using it as a natural flea remedy. If by any chance your cat did eat garlic then contact your vet as quickly as you can.