As a pet owner part of our duty of responsibility is to navigate the human world for our pets. A large part of this is making sure they don’t eat things that are potentially toxic to them.
Cats are not humans, so there are obviously things within the human world that are going to be unpleasant for your cat.
As obligate carnivores your cat will munch on most things, or at least chew them, so we need to make sure they chew the right things and not the wrong things.
One thing that gives people the creeps, let alone cats, is cilantro. Among humans, cilantro is a bit of a debatable herb. While across India and parts of Latin America cilantro is a herb that is used widely and commonly, many American people think it tastes like soap.
Beyond what our opinions of it are, is cilantro safe for cats? Let’s explore the world of herbs and how cats may respond to them.
What Is Cilantro?
Cilantro is the work we use in the US, as well as some other countries, to describe this plant. Its botanical name is Coriandrum sativum, so it is mainly referred to as coriander across the world.
There are even more names for it such as Chinese parsley, dhania, as well as others.
All parts of the Coriandrum sativum plant are edible, including stems, leaves, and potential flowers. What we recognize as ‘Cilantro’ is in fact the eaves but refers to the whole plant in general.
You may be interested to learn that if cilantro tastes like soap to you, you may just be right. Almost a quarter of people in one survey described cilantro as tasting like dish soaps.
This is actually true for these people, there is a gene that actually determines whether or not you taste cilantro like soap. A more scientific explanation can be found here.
Can Cats Eat Cilantro?
While there are certainly herbs out there that can be dangerous to your cat, fortunately, cilantro is not one of them. Cilantro is actually non toxic to all beings.
In fact, cilantro is actually full of nutrients that your cat’s body will appreciate. Raw coriander leaves are full of vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, K as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and a whole host of other goodies.
Yet, as cats are carnivores, their guts aren’t that great at digesting plant material effectively or efficiently (although they still do eat vegetables and require them for a blanched diet).
This basically means that all these nutrients won’t be so bioavailable for your cat. Moreover, eating a large amount of cilantro, or plant material in general, isn’t going to be the best for your cat’s gut.
If you insist on giving your cat some cilantro, there is no reason why you can’t, just don’t give them too much.
Herbs To Avoid Giving Your Cat
While cilantro is pretty safe to give animals of any kind, including fussy humans. There are some herbs you should be aware not to feed your cat, ever, really. Here’s a few.
Allium is the genus name that groups together vegetables (or what are more commonly referred to as alliums) such as onions, garlic, green onions, shallots, leeks, chives and more. Essentially, if it smells like onion or garlic it is very likely to be an allium.
While humans can eat alliums, cats and dogs cannot. Without going into scientific detail, consumption of alliums leads to toxicosis in cats and dogs.
Essentially, when chewed the plant will excrete agents that can cause gastric pain, anemia, and impaired oxygen transportation.
In severe cases, this can result in death, but often dogs and cats won’t eat these foods if they can help it.
Chamomile is found in houses of cat lovers everywhere, and while not all varieties of the plant are toxic, some certainly are so a blanket ban is worthwhile.
Your cat could easily get into your tea selection, or just start drinking from your mug, so be careful but chamomile isn’t something a cat would be that interested in eating or drinking anyway.
Contact with or consumption of chamomile can result in dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, and further allergic reactions and complications.
Any pet owners don’t realize that marijuana is not safe for animal consumption. Again, cats won’t really eat marijuana if it is just lying around, but we have all heard the nightmare stories of cats and dogs eating weed brownies.
This can cause hypersalivation, vomiting, blood pressure issues, potentially seizures, but rarely death. Your pet will just be high on a drug not consumable for their species.
While not overly toxic to animals, if your cat or dog eats something with a lot of oregano in it, which seems unlikely, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea but rarely becomes more severe. This proves true for lemongrass, mint, and tarragon.
Cats are obligate carnivores so they can often eat things they aren’t supposed to. Even when my cat doesn’t want to eat something she will still chew on it for the fun of it. This is why we have a duty of care as pet owners.
Cilantro, while disliked by some humans, is actually totally fine for cats. In large amounts your cat could get a little sick, and have some green fur balls, because their gut is not made from digesting so much plant material – this is your worst scenario, though.
There are some herbs and plants worth being aware of the toxicity to cats as well as other animals. These herbs can include but are not limited to alliums, marijuana, chamomile, and many more.
If your cat has eaten something that you think has made them unwell, always rely on veterinary professionals to tell you what is safe and what isn’t.
The ASPCA (American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals) has a full list of plants, as well as herbs, that are dangerous to your pets, as well as specifically for cats.