Cats are obligate carnivores and require a diet of meat from animal sources. Once in a while, cat owners might wonder if the occasional fruit or vegetable is safe for cats to eat. Usually, some plants can provide fiber and nutrients for cats, and eating them is perfectly fine. But you always want to check and make sure that what you’re about to give your cat is not going to harm them.
If you’re wondering if cats can eat fennel, you may be surprised to learn that they can! Fennel is safe for cats and can even provide health benefits to them.
What Is Fennel?
Fennel is a blooming plant that is related to carrots. It has a pale bulb with long, green stalks. The bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds of the plant are edible. It’s an aromatic plant that gives off a strong, unmistakable scent. When used in different dishes, fennel can provide a specific flavor.
Fennel is high in moisture and fiber. If your cat eats part of a fennel plant, they will get added moisture in their system and a boost of vitamin C, iron, calcium, and potassium.
Fennel in a Cat’s Diet
Some cats may not be interested in eating part of a fennel plant because of the strong aroma. While cats can eat some of the plant or seeds without any trouble, eating too much of either could cause vomiting or diarrhea.
If you’re giving your cat fennel as a healthy treat, they shouldn’t get more than one or two small pieces at once and no more than a couple of times a week to avoid any gastric upset. Eating too much fennel can also have a laxative effect on cats, so this plant should only be offered to them sparingly.
If your cat doesn’t like the smell or taste of raw fennel, you can give them fennel seeds instead. Sprinkle a few seeds into their wet food to hide the taste and smell. Ask your vet before adding anything new to your cat’s diet.
Is Fennel Ever Dangerous for Cats?
Fennel isn’t dangerous in any form except for oil. Concentrated fennel oil can be harmful to cats because it’s linked to photosensitive dermatitis. The ASPCA warns to keep all concentrated fennel oil away from cats.
Photosensitive dermatitis is a condition that causes the skin to become inflamed or have an eczematous reaction after being exposed to the sun. The skin can look red and scaly. Hair loss can be present. As the condition gets worse, the skin becomes crusted and ulcerated.
Do Cats Like Fennel?
Cats can be picky, and some may enjoy things that others don’t. If your cat doesn’t like fennel, that’s fine. There’s no reason that fennel must be added to their diet, and they can remain perfectly healthy without ever eating it. You don’t have to force them to by hiding it in their food. Cats can have a healthy diet without fennel.
Some cats may love fennel and want to eat it raw or chew on the fronds of the plant. This is acceptable and safe. Just make sure they don’t consume too much of it.
Fennel can be a nice change of pace from your cat’s usual treats, but only if they enjoy eating it.
One benefit of fennel is that it contains vitamin C. This is a required vitamin for all animals to survive, but cats produce enough of it in their livers. Humans don’t, so we have to eat foods rich in vitamin C to ensure that we get enough of it. Cats do get plenty of this vitamin, so they don’t need to receive more from fennel. A little extra vitamin C for them won’t hurt, though.
Fennel is perfectly safe for cats in raw, seed, or dried form. Cats can chew or consume parts of the plants without experiencing any negative side effects. However, if they eat too much fennel, it can cause them to have gastric upset and to vomit or have diarrhea.
Fennel oil should be avoided completely. It has been linked to photosensitive dermatitis. The good news is that your cat does not need to be around or consume fennel oil.
Fennel can provide various health benefits to your cat, but they can also remain perfectly healthy without it. If your cat doesn’t like fennel, there’s no reason that they ever have to eat it. If they do happen to try a bit of the fennel plant, you don’t have anything to worry about them getting sick from it.