Why Do Cats Like Olives?

Cats like olives because they contain compounds called isoprenoids. These compounds are chemically similar to the active ingredient in catnip, which most cats go crazy for. Different varieties of green olives and pimentos contain isoprenoids. Most cats prefer the smell of the olive juice as opposed to the taste; that is why they usually just play with the olive like a toy.

If your cat loves olives and you are curious as to, keep on reading.

Is it okay for cats to eat olives?

Yes, olives are not toxic or bad in any way for cats. There really is nothing in olives that your cat nutritionally needs. But if your cat is in good health and seems to tolerate the olives well, then it is probably okay for them to eat the occasional olive. Also make sure that you are giving your cat plain olives, not marinated ones.The pits in olives can be a choking hazard, so make sure to remove the pit before giving the olive to your cat. As an extra precaution, slice up the olive before serving it to your cat.

Can olives be bad for my cat?

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that most of the food they have to consume should be meat. Olives are not really that nutritious for a cat. Also, some olives have been marinated in herbs and spices that may have high amounts of sodium. 

Sodium poisoning is dangerous and can be life-threatening to your cat. You have to be keen and watch out for the signs of possible sodium poisoning in your cat. The symptoms of sodium poisoning include vomiting, thirst, dehydration, frequent urination, loss of appetite, tremors, and even seizures in extreme cases.

These are the reasons why, while olives are not toxic to cats, they should not be given regularly to your cat.

Why do cats like olives?

Scientists have theories as to why cats like olives. Some say that cats simply love the taste or enjoy the interaction they have with you during treat time. Other studies claim that cats like the way they feel after eating olives. This is because olives, specifically green olives, contain an active chemical compound that is very similar in structure to a compound found in catnip, called nepetalactone.

Nepetalactone is the active chemical that is thought to be responsible for the silly behavior cats exhibit after consuming catnip.

Nepetalactone is an organic chemical that interacts with the vomeronasal organ of a cat. The vomeronasal organ is located at the top of the back of the throat in cats and other mammals. This organ is a sensing, smelling nose-brain that cats use to detect pheromones.

Not all cats act silly after eating catnip or olives. It is possible for your cat to enjoy eating olives but not experience changes in behavior after snacking on  them.

Do cats get a euphoric reaction from olives?

Yes, some cats will get a euphoric reaction, similar to the reaction they get from catnip. This is because olives have chemicals that are similar to catnip, but they are drawn to it more because of the scent than the taste.

If you are curious about your cat’s reaction to olives, let it take a big whiff from an empty can of olives and see if it starts rubbing on it or rolling around.

Remember, not all cats will have a reaction to olives. Like with catnip, some cats are just not affected by it.

Can cats eat green olives?

Green olives are not toxic to cats, which means it is safe for your cat to eat. Just be sure to remove the pit.

Can cats eat black olives?

Cats can also eat black olives because they are non-toxic to cats. Black olives can be a little bit bitter compared to green olives. Black olives also contain more oil and less salt. Just like the green olives, give black olives only once in a while.

What do I do if my cat eats an olive pit?

If you accidentally give your cat an olive with the pit still in it and they eat it, do not worry because olive pits are not toxic. Most of the time, it will just pass through their digestive tract along with other fecal matter. But if you suspect that your cat ingested multiple olive pits, take it to the vet as this may cause intestinal blockage and can cause serious health problems.

Can cats have olive oil?

Yes. Olive oil is not considered poisonous for cats, but consuming too much can be a problem. As with any other type of fat, too much can cause diarrhea and vomiting for your cat.

Feeding your cat a piece of food that was cooked in olive oil should be no problem, as long as you do not feed it olive oil too often.

Other safety concerns regarding olives

As long as you are only feeding your cat olives once in a while, there are few safety concerns with it. There is a possibility of mild stomach upset or diarrhea. If you notice even a small negative side effect after letting your cat try olives, avoid giving it in the future.

Olives are sometimes stuffed with human food, such as blue cheese, jalapenos, sausage, almonds, or garlic. Even though olives are non toxic to cats, the other food stuffed into the olive may be. Avoid giving your cat olives that are stuffed, especially if you are unsure as to what the stuffing is made of.

As mentioned above, another main concern regarding olives is sodium toxicity or poisoning. Some olives are brined in salt during manufacturing. High sodium levels can cause heart and kidney disease in cats. Remember that washing the outside of an olive does not remove its actual salt content. Feeding a cat an olive one or twice a week is enough.

Conclusion

Cats like olives because they contain the chemical compound isoprenoids that are structurally similar to the nepetalactone found in catnip. That is why some cats react almost in an identical way to olives as they do to catnip. They can experience a euphoric high when exposed to olives. Interestingly, they usually prefer the smell of olives to the taste; that is why you see your cat play with the olive the same way it would with a toy full of catnip.

Olives are non toxic to cats, but feeding them olives frequently may cause sodium poisoning. The olive pit can also be a choking hazard.

If your cat loves olives, make sure to feed them only one or two a week. Remove the pit and slice the olive.

Image: istockphoto.com / PhotoIris2021