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Can Cats Eat Clover? Common Herbs Examined

Cats are curious creatures and love to paw and nibble at plants. Clover, aka the “good luck” plant, is among the many plants that are poisonous to your feline. The bitter taste of the plant should deter cats and dogs from eating it, but if your cat is feasting on one of them, it may not be such “good luck” for your furry friend. The severity of the poisoning may depend on the type of clover plant, the quantity ingested, and the health of your cat.


Clover Toxicity

The shamrock plant contains the toxic property, oxalic acid and should not be ingested. While a small consumption of leaves should not cause toxicity, the signs of poisoning from eating large amounts of the plant, do not show immediately. If the symptoms are left untreated, it can lead to kidney failure.

In the event you caught your feline nibbling on a shamrock plant, or it is exhibiting any signs of poisoning, call your vet immediately.

a cat that feels sick and seems to vomit
Image Credit: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

Signs of Clover Toxicity

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in the urine
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Tremors
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Drooling

Signs of Kidney Failure

Among other things, acute kidney failure can be the result of eating something toxic, such as a plant. When a cat eats something poisonous and the kidneys cannot properly remove the waste from the blood, the kidney begins to fail. As a result, your cat may look unhappy and lethargic, and may lose its appetite.

Symptoms of Acute Kidney Failure

  • Anorexia
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Blood in vomit
  • Excessive drinking
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Bad breath
  • Seizures

If the kidney failure is causing pain for your cat, you may notice him stiffening his legs or arching his back. Any of these signs warrants a phone call to your vet.

Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
Image Credit: Dendoktoor, Pixabay

Native to Europe, Northwest Africa and Western Asia, the red clover is a herbaceous plant that is not toxic itself, but the fungus that develops on the plant can poison your cat and should be avoided.

White Clover

white clover
Image Credit: Zoosnow, Pixabay

White Clover, also known as Dutch clover, is another herbaceous clover plant. As this low-lying shrub ages, it grows pink-tinted, white blossoms. The leaves contain glycoside that turns into prussic acid and can also be toxic to your cat and should be avoided or removed from its environment.

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Poisonous Herbs

There’s so much joy in preparing and eating a home-cooked meal. In doing so, we need to be aware of the herbs that can potentially poison our cats. Along with clover, there are several other herbs that are toxic to cats.

  • Marjoram: The visible signs of poisoning from marjoram are nausea, vomiting, salivating, and diarrhea. If your cat is vomiting along with diarrhea, keep plenty of water available to prevent it from getting dehydrated.
  • Oregano: If your cat consumes a small amount of Oregano, he may experience some mild stomach upset due to the gastrointestinal irritants content in the herb. Some cat owners, believing that the essential oil contained in oregano is safe for cats, use it in home remedies which can be poisonous to the cat and lead to irreversible liver damage. If used on a regular basis, you may notice symptoms of toxicity which include vomiting nausea, diarrhea, labored breathing, mouth irritation, collapse and liver issues.
  • Tarragon: If your cat eats tarragon, he may exhibit mild stomach upset like diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Bay Leaf: Small amounts of bay leaf can cause serious digestive problems like vomiting and diarrhea and result in dehydration. Due to the difficulty in digestion and sharp edges of a bay leaf, cats are susceptible to a tear in the gut or blockage in their digestive tract.
  • Cannabis: When a cat ingests or inhales cannabis, they become intoxicated and will lack coordination. They may be vocal, hyperactive and disoriented. The intoxication may cause drooling or vomiting. If it is severe, your pet may experience seizures and tremors, and a possible coma.
  • Chives: Ingesting chives can cause sickness in cats in two ways. The mildest form is stomach upset and abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and mouth irritation. A more serious condition caused by chives would be Heinz body anemia, a condition that causes the red blood cells to rupture or be destroyed. The symptoms include fever, weakness, discolored skin, loss of appetite, pale lips, mouth, and gums, rapid breathing and heart rate, lethargy, discolored urine, and collapse.
  • Cacao: Chocolate toxicity in cats presents itself with vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, restlessness, tremors, seizures, panting, rapid breathing and heart rate, increased thirst and urination, and coma. If you suspect that your cat devoured chocolate, call your vet immediately as these symptoms can quickly progress and be deadly. In the case of chocolate toxicity, inducing vomiting at home is not recommended.
  • Scallions: If your cat has ingested a scallion watch for symptoms of panting, weakness, bloody urine, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, rapid heart rate, anemia, labored breathing, and collapse.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile poisoning symptoms include contact dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
  • Mint (in excess): When consumed in excess, mint poisoning symptoms include, stomach upset, diarrhea headache, cramps, vomiting, skin irritation, and liver damage.
  • Lavender (in excess): If your cat nibbles on lavender, he may only experience an upset stomach. Since cats do not have the specific liver enzymes to process the compounds contained in essential oils, the concentration of the oils in the plant can be deadly.
  • Lemongrass and verbena: If your cat nibbles on Lemongrass in small amounts, he may only experience minor symptoms like stomach upset. The essential oil in lemongrass is deadly, however. In small amounts, the cumulative effects of the essential oil in lemongrass can make your cat terribly ill. The symptoms of lemongrass poisoning include stomach pain and upset, swelling of the abdomen, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, shock, and gastrointestinal upset. Other, more severe symptoms when cats ingest large quantities may include weakness in the hind legs, urine leakage, chronic cystitis, and difficulty eliminating bodily waste. Interestingly, some integrative veterinarians use controlled doses of the dry plant to treat diarrhea and gastrointestinal inflammation, as well as topical skin infections.
Sick cat medicines
Image Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

Keep in mind that the poison in many of the plants that are toxic to cats is cumulative. This means, that small amounts, over time, can build up and make your cat extremely sick.

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Whether it causes minor stomach upset or serious complications, plant poisoning is not fun for your feline and can be stressful and worrisome for you also. The simple fact is that we can choose houseplants that are safe and eliminate the ones that may pose a health risk to your cat. Herbs, however, are used every day to enrich the flavor of our food and you may want them to remain in your home. In this instance, take precautions and keep them out of the reach of your cat. In the event of accidental ingestion, contact your vet or poison control center immediately.

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