Cinnamon has long been touted as a natural remedy for diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and even depression. But that’s for humans. Cinnamon and cats is a bit of a different story.
Cinnamon is a spice derived from the bark of the evergreen tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum. The spice contains cinnamic acid, which is believed to have antioxidant properties.
In addition, cinnamon also contains antioxidants called polyphenols. These compounds are thought to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.
Cinnamon is often recommended for its purported health benefits. But some studies suggest that cinnamon may cause harm.
For example, a study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that consuming cinnamon daily for 12 weeks increased fasting insulin levels and glucose intolerance in overweight adults.
Another study found that cinnamon may increase LDL cholesterol levels in people who already had high cholesterol.
So should you give your cat cinnamon? It depends on what kind of cinnamon you’re talking about. And it depends on how much you want to risk giving your cat cinnamon.
Can Cats Eat Cinnamon?
The first thing to know about cinnamon is that there are two kinds: Ceylon cinnamon (also known as true cinnamon) and cassia cinnamon (also known as Chinese cinnamon). They both come from the same plant, but they taste very different.
Cassia cinnamon is sweeter than Ceylon cinnamon. You can find this type of cinnamon at most grocery stores. It comes ground up into sticks or powder form.
Ceylon cinnamon is more expensive because it comes whole. If you buy Ceylon cinnamon, make sure you get the real deal — not just any old cinnamon. Look for the label “cassia” or “true.” This will help ensure you get the right product.
You’ll also see labels like “natural” or “organic,” which don’t necessarily mean anything. Many companies use these terms to describe their products. However, if you do decide to buy cinnamon with those words on the label, be aware that it may contain additives.
It’s important to note that cinnamon isn’t toxic to cats. That said, it does have a number of side effects when given in large doses.
Some of them include diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach upset. So keep that in mind before adding cinnamon to your kitty’s diet.
If you do decide to add cinnamon to your cat’s food, start out slowly. A few teaspoons per day is probably enough. Be careful not to overdo it. Too much cinnamon could lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Why Should I Give My Cat Cinnamon?
Cinnamon, in small doses, has some benefits to cats. During a clinical trial period, researchers found that the cats who were fed cinnamon had lower triglyceride levels compared to those who got the placebo.
Triglycerides are fats found in the body that contribute to heart disease.
This study was conducted on cats, so it doesn’t prove that cinnamon has similar effects in dogs. But other research shows that cinnamon helps control weight gain in dogs.
One study found that supplementing diets with cinnamon helped to prevent obesity in animals.
Another study showed that cinnamon improved the appetite of older animals. When given to older dogs, cinnamon reduced the amount of time it took them to eat. Which translates to cats too.
How Much Should I Give My Cat?
In general, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon added to a cup of dry food is plenty. But if you want to give your cat more, you can. Just remember that too much cinnamon can cause digestive problems.
That being said, one study suggests that cinnamon may actually benefit your cat. Researchers gave healthy cats either a placebo or 2 grams of cinnamon daily for three months.
At the end of the trial, the cats who received the cinnamon had fewer bacteria in their intestines.
So while cinnamon won’t hurt your cat in small doses, it might help them stay healthier.
Just remember not to give them cinnamon in huge amounts, say over 3 teaspoons, and do not give them cinnamon every day.
It’s a good cleanser once in a while but too much overtime will build up the toxins in your cat’s stomach and cause gastrointestinal problems.
What About Other Spices?
Cinnamon is by far the most popular spice used in pet foods. There are many others that are safe for cats, but there are so many more that aren’t. Here are some common spices that you should avoid:
- Black pepper
- White pepper
The safest option would be to stick with cinnamon as your primary spice. If you want to try something different, then go ahead and experiment. Just make sure that you don’t overdose your cat and check that it’s safe to use.
What About Cinnamon Essential Oil?
An essential oil is simply an extract from plants. The main difference between essential oils and regular plant extracts is that they are extracted using heat rather than water. This makes them highly concentrated.
When you buy essential oils, you’ll often find them mixed together. They’re usually labeled based on what type of plant they come from (eucalyptus, lavender, etc.). You can also get them individually.
There are two types of essential oils that are commonly used in pet products. These are citrus oils and culinary oils. Citrus oils contain high concentrations of limonene which is a compound that gives citrus fruits their scent.
These oils are great because they smell really nice. However, they can be very irritating to sensitive skin. And they have been known to cause diarrhea in pets.
Culinary oils are less likely to irritate your cat’s skin. They are made from plants like basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and marjoram.
These oils are generally milder than citrus oils. They are also safer to use since they don’t contain any limonene.
Cinnamon essential oil is a much more concentrated form of cinnamon. As such, we recommend not using cinnamon oil in your cat’s food.
This is because the more harmful parts of cinnamon are more concentrated, and small doses are still capable of huge amounts of damage. Perhaps a single drop would be okay, but we wouldn’t recommend more than that.
There you have it. Cinnamon is okay for cats but in very small amounts. It might even provide some great benefits to your cat’s health.