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Is Basil Toxic To Cats? Important Facts & FAQ

Basil, also known as sweet basil, is a member of the mint family. It is native to India but grown across the world especially as a culinary herb. It is used heavily in Italian cooking and is the basis of pesto. It’s regularly used to spice up pizzas and is cooked as an accompaniment for fish, pasta, and meat dishes. It is known to contain antioxidants, which can help to prevent the formation of cancerous and other problematic cells. It also contains lutein, beta-carotene, and other minerals.

It is considered healthy for human consumption, but is it good for our feline friends, or is it toxic to cats? Basil is not considered poisonous or toxic for cats. It is safe for them to consume, although it is worth noting that this member of the mint family is considered unappealing to most cats.

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Does Basil Offer Any Health Benefits?

Although basil is not considered toxic to cats, it doesn’t really offer any nutritional benefit to them, either, so there is no benefit to feeding this culinary ingredient to your pet cat.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they need to eat meat and they do not gain a lot of benefit from eating many plant-based foods.

While you don’t need to worry if your cat steals a little basil from the pot or your plate, there is no benefit to feeding it to him.

bowl of basil
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Other Herbs That Are Safe For Cats

There aren’t too many herbs that are considered beneficial for your cat. They require meat-based protein and minerals, rather than plant-based. With that said, below are some herbs that are safe for cats and that may offer minimal benefit.

1. Valerian

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Valerian is a large plant with white flowers. The root of this plant is sometimes used in cat toys, as an alternative to catnip. It is a potent stimulant for cats and it can make them feel euphoric. For people, it can have quite a different effect, and the smell of valerian root has been likened to that of body odor.

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2. Witch Hazel

witch hazel
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Witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory that can be used in people to help alleviate the itching and irritation that is caused by allergies. It enjoys a similar use in cats, too, and can help reduce itching and even be used to combat feline acne. It should be diluted and should be sprayed or rubbed on the area. It should not be fed to your cat.

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3. Echinacea

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Echinacea is another herb that can benefit humans and their feline friends. This particular herb is useful because it helps strengthen the immune system so it can help prevent your cat from getting ill. It can be bought as a cat supplement or even as an essential oil for pets.

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4. Licorice

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Licorice root is another herb that, like witch hazel, can be used to alleviate the itching and inflammation caused by allergies. It can also help beat the symptoms of a cold as well as digestive issues.

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5. Cat’s Claw

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Cat’s claw is a supplement that comes from a tropical vine. It can fight allergies and allergic reactions, fights and prevents disease by modulating the immune system, and is another herb that may help improve your cat’s digestion and digestive system.

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6. Catnip

cat eating catnip
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Finally, the benefits and effects of catnip are well known. It is a stimulant, a member of the mint family, like basil, but it contains an essential oil called nepetalactone that can drive your cat wild. Not all cats carry the gene that reacts to catnip, but you will know if this is the case with your cat. Too much catnip can induce vomiting and diarrhea so consumption should always be moderated.

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Herbs That Are Dangerous For Cats

Not all herbs are safe or beneficial for cats. You should avoid growing the following if your cat tends to eat as a means of investigating, and you should keep an eye on your feline friend if it has wolfed any of these ingredients down.

1. Garlic

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Garlic is one of the better-known toxins for cats, and dogs. Similarly, chives are a member of the garlic family, and these are very toxic to cats. In fact, you should avoid giving your cat onion and leeks too because even a small amount can cause anemia and may even lead to death.

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2. Chamomile

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Chamomile is a relaxant for humans and is often said to be safe for cats. However, this is misleading because, while German chamomile is safe, English or Garden chamomile is toxic and it can cause contact dermatitis in your cat, and may even lead to gastrointestinal upset.

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Is Basil Toxic To Cats?

Basil is a member of the mint family and is very popular as a culinary herb for humans. It even offers some health benefits. While it isn’t toxic for cats, it also offers minimal benefit and little nutritional benefit for the obligate carnivores. While you don’t need to stop growing it in the herb garden and shouldn’t worry if your cat has eaten any off your plate, it is unlikely that your cat will enjoy or even appreciate the flavor of the herb.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay