If you like to cook for your cat, you might be tempted to sprinkle a little rosemary on their chicken. Or maybe you’ve brought home a rosemary plant and noticed that your cat likes to munch on it.
Then it occurs to you — wait, is that safe? Or are you possibly exposing your feline friend to a toxic plant that could do serious damage to them?
Regardless of whether you’re just playing it safe or are desperately searching for answers after already letting your cat feast on the stuff, we’re here to let you know that you shouldn’t feed rosemary to your cat.
Is Rosemary Safe for Cats?
According to the ASPCA, rosemary is not toxic for cats. However, that just means that it won’t kill them to eat it.
Rosemary is filled with oils, and these oils can upset a cat’s stomach if consumed in sufficient quantities, so it’s best to discourage your cat from eating it even if it won’t kill them.
As discussed above, it’s unlikely that your cat will enjoy the taste enough to mow through enough rosemary plants to upset their stomach, but cats have certainly eaten weirder things.
You can give your cat food that has had rosemary sprinkled on it, as this helps dull the flavor somewhat. Of course, the concern with that would be your kitten getting fat off table scraps, but that’s an issue for another time.
What Is Rosemary?
Rosemary is considered a culinary herb, which is to say that it’s a plant that people cook with. It has a lemon-pine flavor, and it’s often paired with foods like lamb, pork, and pizza sauce.
While you can certainly buy rosemary at the store, many people like to grow their own at home because it’s easy to manage and doesn’t require much space.
Some cats will eat rosemary plants if given the opportunity, but many animals don’t care for the taste or the aroma. As a matter of fact, it’s often used as a deterrent against deer and other pests.
Does Rosemary Have Any Health Benefits for Cats?
Yes. The plant is filled with antioxidants, and some of them have impressive effects on cats.
Most notable among these antioxidants is rosmanol, which helps fight off cancer cells. It can also speed up recovery if your cat gets injured.
Rosemary has high concentrations of carnosic acid, which can protect the brain from free radical damage. There’s also ursolic acid, which encourages muscle growth, and betulinic acid, which functions as an anti-inflammatory.
Last but not least, there’s camphor in rosemary. This can help repel mosquitoes and other pests, which reduces the risk of various parasites getting passed down to your pet. We wouldn’t rely on rosemary at the expense of a dedicated flea and tick treatment, but every little bit helps.
How Do I Get My Cat to Eat Rosemary?
All the health benefits spelled out above won’t help your pet much if they won’t eat any rosemary. Of course, if you’ve had your cat for longer than about 15 minutes or so, then you’re probably familiar with the futility of trying to force them to do anything.
Your best bet is to sprinkle some rosemary on cooked chicken or another lean meat. Your cat will almost certainly eat it if it’s on something they like, but the issue is that it’s hard to give them a significant amount without overwhelming the taste of the chicken or overfeeding them.
You can try adding it to their food, but if they turn their nose up at it, there’s little you can do.
What’s the Verdict? Is Rosemary Safe for Cats?
If you’ve already caught your cat chowing down on your rosemary plant, don’t panic — it won’t kill them. Worst-case scenario, you’ll have a big mess to clean up in the litter box (but what else is new, right?).
In fact, you should likely encourage your cat to eat as much rosemary as their stomach can handle, as it offers several important health benefits. It’s unlikely that your cat will listen to you, though, as many animals can’t stand the taste or the smell of the stuff.