How Much Garlic Is Toxic To Cats

How Much Garlic Is Toxic To Cats

Pet cats are one-of-a-kind because of their calm and inquisitive nature. They’re playful, affectionate, and can also be demanding at times. Most of all they’re curious, and this behavior may be due to their strong survival instincts. However, this curiosity can sometimes become a cause for trouble so much so that it may have been the basis for that famous proverb, “curiosity killed the cat”. Your pet may check out dark nooks and crannies, lick gooey stuff from the floor, or eat garlic, and they may end up getting injured or poisoned. 

Can cats eat garlic?

Most pet experts would agree that garlic is not ideal for your pet cat. In fact, it’s listed as one of those things that’s harmful to cats. The reason? Garlic belongs to the plant family of Allium, a plant group with a characteristic aroma and is mostly bulbous herbs. Also included in this particular group are onions, scallions, shallots, chives, and leeks. These plants contain organic sulfur compounds that can cause oxidative damage to your pet’s red blood cells resulting in hemolytic anemia, a disorder wherein red blood cells are destroyed faster than its production.

Garlic intake in small amounts may not pose a great danger but you should be wary as even a minimal amount like a sprinkle of garlic powder can still have a damaging effect on your pet. So, to answer the question. Yes, cats can eat garlic in very minimal amounts but for their safety, it may be best to keep them away from it so that there’s no chance your pet can ever ingest or eat it. 

Are cats attracted to garlic?

Cats are not particularly drawn to the smell of garlic. However, ingestion may usually be due to the presence of garlic in cooked food or when used as a seasoning or flavoring.

How much garlic is toxic to cats?

As earlier mentioned,  a very small amount of garlic may not result in probable danger to your pet. However, it’s another thing if she has swallowed a few cloves! According to Dr. Ahna Brutlag, Director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Helpline and a board-certified veterinary toxicologist, garlic is approximately 5 times more concentrated than onions.

Having said so, as little as one clove of garlic can be very harmful to cats and the level of toxicity may vary depending on your pet’s weight, prior health history, and breed type. Also, while it takes around 5 grams of onions to be potentially toxic for cats, even a small amount of garlic can have adverse effects on your pet’s health. 

Symptoms of garlic poisoning

This is a tricky part because most of the symptoms of garlic poisoning doesn’t manifest in your pet right away. It takes more or less 4 days to 1 week after ingesting garlic for your cat to start showing signs of toxicity. Here are the symptoms that you should look out for:

  • ataxia or lack of muscle coordination
  • pale gums
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea 
  • abdominal discomfort
  • increased heart rate
  • fatigue 
  • jaundice 
  • red or brown discolored urine
  • increased respiratory rate
  • lethargy 
  • drooling or hypersalivation
  • altered level of consciousness
  • loss of appetite

Treatment process if your cat shows symptoms of garlic poisoning

If your cat starts to show symptoms of garlic poisoning this is the usual flow of the treatment process to ensure the prompt treatment for garlic poisoning:

Damage control 

The moment your cat starts to show symptoms of garlic poisoning be sure to contact your veterinarian right away.  He will then orally administer a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to your pet to induce vomiting. This will remove the digested garlic from your pet’s tummy and will prevent further harm.

Your vet may also perform stomach pumping or gastric lavage to clean out your pet’s stomach contents. This process is commonly used by vets to remove the poison from the stomach. In addition to this, your vet may give your pet activated charcoal which absorbs toxins. This will ensure that the poison won’t enter your pet’s bloodstream and cause more harm. 


Once your vet completes the administration of gastric lavage and activated charcoal he will continue to monitor your pet to ascertain if oxygen therapy or IV fluids are needed. The latter is often administered, especially if your pet manifests vomiting and diarrhea, to prevent dehydration. If a homeopathic product with garlic was used on your pet’s skin the toxins should be removed by giving our pet a long and thorough bath. For severe cases wherein loss of red blood cells is observed, your vet will perform a blood transfusion on your pet to help her survive.

Recovery phase

Even while your pet may already show signs of normalcy, your vet may still opt to keep your cat in the clinic to make sure that she’s already in a stable state. Your vet may also suggest at-home care to aid your pet in her recovery. As a precautionary measure, make sure to omit any garlic from your cat’s regular diet.  

Surprise! Garlic has benefits for your pet cat

An American veterinarian, Dr. Richard Pitcairn, author of “Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats”, recommends at least ¼ clove of garlic daily for cats with at least one day per week with no garlic at all. Surprisingly, even as garlic has been known to be toxic for your feline, it also has some known benefits. These are just some of them:

  • garlic aroma acts as parasite repellent and keeps ticks and fleas away from your pets
  • it can help the liver to eliminate toxins
  • it boosts the immune system
  • it aids digestion
  • it helps eliminate fungus and bacteria 
  • it reduces cholesterol and boosts the functions of the cardiovascular system

Being inherently curious and skittish can result in trouble and even great harm for pet cats. Ingesting garlic, either accidentally or not, is just one of those unfortunate mishaps that our pet can get herself into. It may or may not potentially result in poisoning and fatal danger. However, it’s imperative that as a fastidious and responsible pet parent, we should do everything in our full capacities to always put our furry pet’s safety above all else. 

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