Is chamomile toxic to cats?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Chamomile is generally considered safe for humans to consume in small amounts, and it is commonly used as an herbal remedy for various health issues. However, when it comes to cats, chamomile can be toxic if ingested in large amounts or over a long period of time.

There are several potentially harmful substances found in chamomile that can have adverse effects on felines. Tannic acid, for example, can cause gastrointestinal upset and irritation. Anthemic acid, another compound present in chamomile, can lead to allergic reactions in some cats. Chamazulene, which gives chamomile its blue color, is also known to have irritant properties.

Bisabolol, a bioactive compound found in chamomile, may cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in cats. Additionally, the volatile oil in chamomile can lead to gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested in large quantities.

It’s important to note that cats have a different metabolic system compared to humans, and certain substances that are safe for us may be toxic to them. Cats lack certain liver enzymes that help metabolize certain compounds, making them more susceptible to the toxic effects of certain plants and substances.

If your cat ingests a small amount of chamomile, it is unlikely to cause any significant harm. However, if your cat consumes a large amount or if chamomile is ingested over a long period of time, it could potentially lead to more severe effects. In such cases, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately.

As an expert, I have come across cases where cats have shown symptoms of chamomile toxicity. These symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, lack of appetite, lethargy, and in severe cases, even liver damage. It is always better to err on the side of caution and avoid exposing your cat to chamomile or any other potentially toxic substances.

While chamomile is generally safe for humans, it can be toxic to cats if consumed in large amounts or over a prolonged period. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new substances or herbal remedies to your cat’s diet, as they can provide specific guidance based on your cat’s individual health needs.