Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple
What do cats like to eat? It depends on a particular cat of course. But, every vet will tell you that meat, meat and a little bit more of meat is the most important for your cat’s diet. However, I’m sure that you have witnessed your cat chewing on all kinds of things that are not supposed to be on her menu. Different kinds of grass seem to be particularly attractive for cats. Can cats eat rosemary? I have come across this question quite often.
What is the thing with rosemary anyway? It was sacred to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. Throughout history, we believed that rosemary can cure diseases and that it has magical qualities as well. Even Shakespeare mentioned it in several of his poems.
Today, we know that it is rich in antioxidants. And rosemary extract is a natural preservative of omega 3-rich oils. Rosemary is potentially beneficial to your health because it’s rich in natural chemicals called carotenoids and polyphenols. However, modern science has yet to find evidence of noticeable health benefits of rosemary. Still, rosemary has a distinctive and rich aroma which makes it a popular flavoring all around the world. But, let’s get back to our cats.
Is Rosemary Safe for Cats
A simple answer is yes. If you have rosemary in your backyard you don’t have to worry. Your cat probably won’t find it attractive. But, even if she does, few nibbles are completely safe. Fresh rosemary has no effect on cats whatsoever. Only if your cat eats large quantities, and I mean really large, it can cause stomach irritation and vomiting. But, your cat actually can’t eat that much of anything. So, rest assured unless you have a rosemary forest in your backyard and a cat with a voracious appetite like a goat.
Why Some People Think It is Dangerous
Let’s see what scientists say. Most of the compounds found in rosemary are probably healthy. Why probably? It’s because rosemary contains minuscule amounts that are not enough to provide positive effects, probably. If we could increase the contents of these nutrients they would most definitely be healthy. But, if we keep concentrating them, they become irritable for the stomach and even toxic for kidneys.
So, this is the base for both, ‘super-healthy’, and ‘it is dangerous’ myths. The truth is quite simple though. Fresh rosemary is safe and maybe a bit beneficial because of antioxidants. It goes for both humans and cats.
Rosemary extract is used in some cat food because of preservation qualities. Rosemary extract can cause stomach problems but only in large doses. So, don’t feed your cat with rosemary extract. However, quantities of the extract in cat food are almost immeasurable. There’s no need to avoid cat food that contains rosemary extract.
And then, there’s rosemary oil. This is dangerous and potentially toxic. The process of making oil changes the molecular structure. The final products have a very high concentration of different chemicals. If ingested this oil is toxic not only for cats but for humans as well. Humans can use it as 2-4% dilution for skin only. So, as long as your cat doesn’t drink this oil she‘ll be safe.
I don’t think that cats are prone to eating rosemary, but an occasional nibble won’t hurt them.
We live in the Information Age. While we enjoy the benefits that come with it, there is a downside to it. One of them is the fact that false information can spread out fast, too. Sometimes, it is hard to separate the facts from fiction. In this case, it is not so hard, after all.
While there is no reason to feed your cat with rosemary or any other plant for that matter, it is not toxic or dangerous for your kitty. If you have the plant in your backyard, your cat will most likely avoid it. If she chews on it now and then, you probably won’t even notice. Anyway, you can feel safe and enjoy flavoring your food with your own organic rosemary.