Oregano is one of the most popular culinary herbs out there. Besides featuring in different cuisines around the world, this herb is also believed to contain a cocktail of other health benefits.
Oregano boasts antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal properties that help to fight bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, respectively. It’s also hailed as a potent muscle relaxant, vasodilator, and antispasmodic herb.
Most of oregano’s health benefits have been experimented on humans. But can the same be said about our feline friends? Is oregano safe for cats?
The answer is a resounding NO. Oregano leaves, both fresh and dried, contain compounds like flavones and polyphenols that are all considered toxic for cats. Oregano essential oil isn’t safe for your feline friend either.
The toxicity of oregano results from the fact that cats do not contain the enzyme glucuronyl transferase that is required to metabolize the chemicals in the plant.
Read on as we expound further on the potential toxicity of oregano for cats.
Can I Give My Cat Oregano? A Quick Overview of What Oregano Is
Is oregano toxic for cats?
This is, indeed, one of the most nagging concerns among many pet parents who are seeking to incorporate plant matter into their cat’s diet. But, is oregano okay for cats?
Just as we’ve already seen, you should avoid giving your cat oregano in all conceivable forms, as the herb might present serious toxicity.
But even before we delve further and examine what could possibly go wrong if your cute, little friend snacks on oregano, do you actually know what this herb is?
Now, oregano, scientifically known as Origanum vulgare, is a perennial flowering plant that’s characterized by olive-green leaves with a shape resembling that of a spade.
The plants also produce purple flowers. Its leaves and flowers can be utilized fresh, dried, or processed into oregano essential oils.
Oregano goes by numerous other names, including Greek oregano, marjoram, origanum, etc. So, you might also have wondered, is Greek oregano safe for cats?
The answer remains no, as Greek oregano is essentially the same as oregano.
There are several varieties of oregano. The most popular oregano cultivars include Aureum, Nana, and Greek Kaliteri.
The plant belongs to the Lamiaceae family, which is popularly known as the mint, and also comprises other herbs like sage, lavender, mint, basil, to mention but a few.
Oregano is native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean region. But due to its ever-growing popularity, the plant has been naturalized in various other areas around the world, particularly the US and Mexico.
Potential Health Benefits
We have since pointed out that oregano contains antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, and muscle relaxant properties. But the herb is most commonly used as a flavor enhancer and in aromatherapy.
Is oregano bad for cats? While we’ve already mentioned it, it warrants repeating that oregano isn’t safe for cats.
However, there are a few cat owners who might try to prescribe oregano to their cats, ostensibly borrowing from the plants health benefits to humans.
Generally, vets discourage it. But if you can’t resist the temptation of offering your cat oregano, you should, at least, know how to proceed.
How to Use Oregano for Cats
Oregano is mostly applied or consumed in three basic forms. These include fresh oregano leaves, dried oregano leaves (which might further be ground into a powder), and oregano essential oil, which is usually extracted from the leaves or flowers of the plant.
Let’s examine each of these forms in detail.
Is fresh oregano safe for cats?
Oregano leaves are rich in essential oils. Though the quantity of essential oils in oregano leaves isn’t much, the leaves are still considered dangerous for cats.
Can cats eat dried oregano?
Just like fresh oregano leaves, you shouldn’t offer your cat dried oregano leaves either. Both fresh and dried oregano leaves contain low levels of essential oils, but which is still considered high enough to wreak havoc on your cat’s system.
It’s also worth noting that cats are obligate carnivores, which implies that they live exclusively on a diet of animal protein.
As such, their digestive tract considers plant matter as “foreign foods.” So, just a few morsels of fresh or dried oregano leaves might cause your feline friend serious gastrointestinal complications.
Is oregano oil safe for cats?
As you may have realized, the toxicity of fresh and dried oregano leaves has been expressed in relation to oregano essential oil. That may leave you wondering, is diffusing oregano oil safe for cats?
Unfortunately, you should never administer oregano essential oil to your cat, be it internally or topically. The many toxic chemicals that are present in oregano are highly abundant in its essential oil.
Now, this leaves us with the question – what is the right way to use oregano for cats?
And the answer is, there is no right way as the plant is potentially toxic to cats in whichever form it comes in.
Last update on 2020-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Symptoms of Oregano Poisoning In Cats
The symptoms of oregano poisoning in cats manifest in various ways, depending on how the cat consumes the plant.
If your feline friend ingests oregano leaves or essential oil, the following are some of the symptoms to watch out for;
- Gastrointestinal complications, such as vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, gassiness, and abdominal pain;
- Shallow breathing;
- Lethargy, as characterized by difficulty walking;
- Oral irritation; and
- Liver failure, which may lead to death.
In the case of topical application, the symptoms will mostly manifest in the form of skin allergies. These can range from a mild to severe skin rash.
What Do I Do If My Cat Ate Oregano?
Oregano toxicity usually depends on the amount of the plant your cat has eaten. If your feline friend has only snacked on a few morsels, the symptoms may be mild and short-lasting.
However, your best bet is to visit your vet as soon as you discover that your cat has snacked on this toxic herb. It’s also worth noting that oregano poisoning in cats has no antidote. Which underscores the significance of scheduling a vet visit as soon as possible.
Most cases of oregano poisoning in cats are treated through IV therapy. Your cat will be put under strict surveillance to ensure all the toxins are flushed out of its body. The recovery period can be physically distressing to the cat and financially draining for you.
If you’re adamant about offering your cat plant matter or people foods, there are numerous alternatives to oregano for cats that you might try out. Examples include cilantro, spinach, and catnip. So, is oregano like catnip?
Absolutely not. Catnip is safe and healthy for cats while oregano is not.
Can kittens eat oregano?
Anything that is considered harmful for adult cats might be even more dangerous for kittens whose immunity is not well-developed. So, avoid feeding oregano to your kitten at all costs.
Other related questions you may encounter about oregano and cats include, is Italian oregano safe for cats and is Cuban oregano safe for cats?
The region where oregano grows doesn’t mediate its toxicity. So, Italian and Cuban oreganos are also dangerous for felines.
Conclusion: Can Cats Eat Oregano?
Oregano is toxic for cats in whichever form, and should therefore be avoided. The good news is that there are plenty of oregano alternatives you can give to your feline friend.
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