Cats are curious creatures and may investigate every nook and cranny of your home and may end up finding garlic or foods containing garlic. Sometimes a pet parent not aware of the potential harmful effects of garlic may even give their cat foods containing garlic on purpose. But how dangerous is garlic to cats?
Can cats eat garlic?
Garlic is certainly not good for a cat. In fact, it is harmful or even dangerous 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 completely away from it so that there is no chance of your pet ingesting it.
Are cats attracted to garlic?
Cats are not particularly drawn to the smell of garlic. Ingestion is usually be due to the presence of garlic in cooked food.
How much garlic is toxic to cats?
Since garlic is very concentrated even less than one clove of garlic may be toxic to cats. The level of toxicity of a certain amount of garlic depends on the cats weight, prior health history, and breed.
Symptoms of garlic poisoning
This is a tricky part because most of the symptoms of garlic poisoning do not manifest immediately. It can take as long as 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
- abdominal discomfort
- increased heart rate
- red or brown discolored urine
- increased respiratory rate
- 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:
The moment your cat starts to show symptoms of garlic poisoning be sure to contact your veterinarian right away. He will probably administer a 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.
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