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Can Cats Eat Garlic? What You Need to Know!

Garlic has so many uses in recipes, holistic medicine, and protects you from vampires lurking around—how could you ask for more? But when it comes to your kitty, are they able to enjoy this versatile allium species?

While it may seem unfortunate, garlic is highly toxic to cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Let’s break down the facts on how garlic is best left in your food bowl—not your cat’s.

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What Makes Garlic Toxic for Cats?

Garlic, onions, and chives are all in the same group—and all are toxic to dogs and cats. But of all of these plants, garlic is the most potent. Naturalists swear by the power of garlic having healing properties to combat sickness, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

However, the awesomely powerful benefits of this root vegetable only extend to people—not pets. Our beloved cats have the opposite reaction to garlic, resulting in extreme sickness that can even lead to death. So, it’s easy to understand why it’s so vital to keep your kitties from contact.

But what exactly makes garlic so toxic? There is an oxidant in garlic called n-propyl disulfide that is extremely bad for your feline. Oxidative damage happens when the n-propyl disulfide encounters their red blood cells, leading to anemia—and a wide array of other nasty things.

Can You Use Garlic for Fleas?

If you’ve heard of any at-home holistic treatments, you may have heard about garlic combating fleas. It seems like a simple solution—dab a bit of garlic powder in your cat’s food, and bam! Those pesky fleas are no more.

white long-haired fluffy cat
Credit: dexmac at Pixabay

But contrary to recommendations saying garlic is a good remedy, it’s not worth the risk to your cat. Many sites advise people to add garlic and yeast into their daily kibble, which can do quite a bit of damage before you even realize you’re poisoning your kitty.

Do not try this, despite anything you may read otherwise. If you want clarification from a professional, don’t hesitate to speak with your vet about it. Also, if you’re looking for natural flea treatments, there are tons of safe options to try out. Just make sure they are totally safe before administration.

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Signs Your Cat Ate Garlic

The problem with garlic is that the effects can come on slowly, which can delay treatment. So, if you know your cat ate a little garlic but they’re acting like nothing is wrong, seek vet attention anyway. By the time symptoms show up, garlic consumption could already be taking its toll on your cat’s system.

Garlic can affect different areas of your cat’s body, including the gastrointestinal tract and blood. Your cat may present symptoms of both or just one.

GI symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Salivating

Hemolytic anemia symptoms can include:

  • Listlessness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Pale gums

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, garlic is five times more potent than onions or leeks. Symptoms can take several days to show up. Keep an eye on your kitty when you’re prepping food and never leave cloves in their reach.

Is Garlic Still Toxic in Tiny Doses?

Garlic is very commonplace in the kitchen, and you can put it in pretty much anything. If you added some garlic powder to a cooked dish or threw some cloves into a pot of chili, you may wonder if it’s still problematic when your cat eats it indirectly.

Cloves of garlic
Image Credit: Anrita1705, Pixabay

It’s probably not unless they ate a substantial portion of that food. The garlic would be very cooked down, therefore less intense—but still toxic, nonetheless. Also, eating any food regularly seasoned with garlic can slowly poison them over time. So, your best bet is always to be safe rather than sorry and avoid feeding them anything that has garlic as an ingredient.

Will Your Cat Want to Eat Garlic?

The good news about garlic is that it’s highly unlikely your cat will want anything to do with it in the first place. Cats are pretty picky eaters most of the time—and garlic is a very pungent veggie. Once they get a whiff of it in their nostrils, they’ll probably lose their appetite all together (and then blame you for it).

Of course, if garlic is mixed into other goodies, your cat may find it tasty. That’s where you run into trouble. Just use caution when adding raw or powdered garlic to food—making sure your curious cat stays at bay.

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Cats and Garlic: Final Thoughts

To wrap it all up and tie it with a bow—no, your cat should never ingest garlic of any kind. Always keep the shaker out of reach. Make sure any garlic cloves are put away. Be sure to put the peelings in the trash. And, of course, definitely don’t feed garlic to your cat as a natural flea remedy.

Getting safety information is the best way to be a proactive pet owner. Now you know to keep your feline garlic-free.

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Featured Image: congerdesign, Pixabay