Can Cats Have Garlic?

A clove or two (or three, or four) of garlic is a welcome addition to many of our dinners. And as you tuck into your favorite dish, you might feel the eyes of your curious cat on your fork full of human food.

Then comes the purrs, the round eyes, and the sad pleas for just a small bite.

But while we’re all guilty of giving our cats a nibble on something that really isn’t kibble, they should always be kept away from garlic. Garlic is incredibly toxic for cats, even in very small amounts.

No matter how persuasive their begging might be, never give your cat garlic.

To find out more about garlic and the effect it has on pets, take a look at this guide. 

Can Cats Have Garlic?

Cats should not eat garlic under any circumstances. Garlic is hugely toxic to cats and can cause hemolytic anemia or even gastroenteritis. Even small amounts of garlic can severely impact your cats’ health.

Garlic is a member of the Allium family. This includes foods such as onions, chives, and leeks. Foods in the Allium family contain disulfides and thiosulphates. These compounds can damage the red blood cells, making them fragile, and inhibiting the passage of oxygen through the bloodstream.

Compared to other Alliums, garlic is incredibly toxic. It’s actually about five times more toxic than onions. 

So, no matter how eagerly your cat looks at your garlic bread, don’t let them sink their teeth in.

How Much Garlic Is Toxic To Cats?

Even very small amounts of garlic can be toxic for cats. Less than a single clove might cause indigestion, especially for a small cat. Several cloves could lead to serious issues like hemolytic anemia.

The amount of garlic that will cause this reaction varies from cat to cat. Some cats are extremely sensitive to garlic, while others won’t have as much of a reaction.

For fully grown cats in good health, a tiny nibble might not have an immediate effect. However, it’s still best to avoid sharing any garlic with your cat. Even eating small amounts over time can lead to garlic poisoning.

Can Cats Eat Meat Seasoned With Garlic?

We’re all guilty of falling for our cats’ ploy for food from time to time, but you should steer clear of giving them any foods seasoned with garlic. Even small amounts can be damaging, and regular consumption can lead to poisoning.

Garlic powder is also bad for cats. So, if you’ve sprinkled some garlic powder in your dinner, you won’t want to let your cat have a taste.

Cats aren’t particularly drawn to garlic and are unlikely to seek it out. But as they are known for a curious interest in other people’s foods, they might try and have a nose at your garlic-rich dinner. Be sure to keep them away, no matter how persistent.

How To Spot Garlic Poisoning In Cats

If you suspect your cat has ingested garlic, there are several symptoms to look out for. Common symptoms are:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Struggling to breathe.
  • Lethargy or fatigue.
  • Pale gums.
  • Discolored urine.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Drooling.
  • Increased respiratory rate.
  • Jaundice.
  • Panting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Muscle weakness or lack of coordination.

It can take a few days for signs of garlic poisoning to appear. If your cat has ingested food with garlic, or you suspect that they have, keep a close eye on them for at least four days to a week. Some symptoms are likely to show up sooner than others, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Treating Garlic Poisoning In Cats

If you’ve observed any symptoms of garlic poisoning in your cat, you need to act quickly. Contact your vet and describe exactly what you’ve seen and how much garlic you suspect your cat has ingested.

The vet’s immediate response may be to induce vomiting in your cat with hydrogen peroxide, to remove the last of the garlic from their system. A gastric lavage may also be performed to clear the stomach. Activated charcoal is sometimes employed to absorb the toxins from the garlic. 

Following this, the cat will need to be monitored. They could require IV fluids or oxygen therapy. If your cat has experienced a significant amount of vomiting or diarrhea, an IV might be necessary to prevent dehydration. 

In very serious cases, a cat that has ingested garlic may require a blood transfusion. This is only necessary if the cat has experienced significant damage to the red blood cells. 

Can Garlic Treat Fleas?

You might have heard of garlic being used as a flea treatment. Although this was once considered to be an effective natural treatment, it’s no longer recommended. Further research has shown that garlic won’t keep the fleas away, and the chance of poisoning just isn’t worth the risk. 

How To Avoid Garlic Poisoning

It’s essential to keep garlic away from your cats. Don’t give your cat any food containing garlic, even in small amounts. Less than a clove of garlic can lead to your cat falling ill.

Prolonged exposure can also cause issues. So, even if you think a sprinkle of garlic powder won’t cause any problems, over time, it could make your cat seriously ill.

Be careful when cooking with garlic. Keep your cat away from the food as you prepare it. When you aren’t cooking, ensure the garlic is stored in a sealed container. Avoid feeding your cat treats from your dinner plate.

If you’re growing garlic, then you want to keep it protected from curious cats. You’ll need to cover it with something so that it doesn’t fall into the reach of hungry felines.

Sometimes garlic is used in supplements or medicines. If you are using garlic as any form of treatment, make sure your cat can’t gain access. 

Final Thoughts

Cat biology is very different from ours. There are some foods that we won’t think twice about eating, but that can cause serious damage to our feline friends. Do not let your cat eat garlic.

As a member of the Allium family, it is toxic to cats. Even a nibble could lead to an upset stomach. 

Courtney Trent
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