Can Cats Eat Basil?

Can Cats Eat Basil?

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Basil is not listed as one of the herbs/spices considered harmful to cats. Cats can eat basil however it should only be an occasional treat to your cat. Basil is popular for its minty smell and the unique taste it adds to delicacies. It is not uncommon to find your feline digging around your vegetable garden. Cats may be drawn to basil because of its smell and may want to nibble at it. If you find your cat eating a fresh basil leaf from your garden, it is usually not a cause to worry.

Are you wondering if you should feed basil to your cat or not? Or are you concerned about your cat's health when you feed them basil? In this article, I provide answers to these questions and other related questions.

Can Cats Eat Basil?

Basil is an edible herb that is consumed in different forms. It forms the basis of pesto and it is used to garnish food either in its fresh form or dried and crunched form. Basil, also known as sweet basil, is also known to contain antioxidants which may be good for your kitty. Generally, sweet basil is one of the members of the spice family that offers health benefits to humans.

As a cat owner, you may be wondering if your cat can also benefit from the nutritional benefits of basil. The good news is that cats can eat basil. Cats can safely eat basil but unlike humans, basil hardly offers nutritional benefits to cats. Cats are designed to eat meat and fish diets. Cats do not need plant-based foods like basil and also they are not designed to properly digest vegetables or other plant-based foods.

All the nutrients your cat need comes from their complete and balanced cat food. Hence, basil should not become a regular part of their diet. If your cat nibbles on one or two leaves of basil, it should not cause any harm for them. However, in rare cases, some cats may show allergic reactions like breaking out in hives or developing itchy ears, when they consume basil.

Basil and Tomatoes

Is Basil Good For My Cat?

Cats can eat basil but do not need the tasty herb. Basil is a popular herb in human delicacies, popular for the unique taste it gives to food and its antioxidant contents. But, unlike humans, cats are not able to entirely benefit from the nutrients found in basil. Cats are not able to absorb all the nutrients. However, cats may be able to absorb small amounts of the following nutrients: 

  • Fiber: Fiber is good for your cat's digestive system. It aids digestion and enhances free bowel movement.
  • Antioxidant: Antioxidants are known for their work in fighting free radicals in your cat's body and this help reduces the risk of cancer.
  • Vitamin K: Cats require vitamin K for blood clotting. Basil may serve as a source of vitamin K.
  • Vitamin A: Basil contains Vitamin A which is good for your cat's teeth, bone, and eye health.
  • Iron: Cats require iron for normal bodily functions. If your cat likes to nibble on a leaf or two of basil, the aromatic herb can serve as a source of iron to your cat.

Can Basil Harm My Cat?

Cats are obligate carnivores that require meat-based food for growth. Cats need a lot of protein and as such, do not need to snack on plant-based foods. While basil is not toxic to cats, it hardly offers any nutritional benefits to them. If you choose to introduce basil to your cat's diet, make sure to feed them only small amounts.

If your cat eats one or two leaves of basil, it should not be a cause for panic. But if they start vomiting or showing signs of stomach upset after eating basil for some time,  you should consult your veterinarian immediately. 

In some rare situations, some cats may suffer from allergic reactions like vomiting, itching, or redness after consuming basil. If this occurs, stop feeding basil to them and consult with your vet.

Also, it is not advisable to feed your feline basil leaves off your plate. This is because it may contain toppings or ingredients like salt that can be very toxic to your cat. Basil given to cats should not contain any ingredients that are considered harmful to cats. It should be served plain to cats.


How Should I Feed Basil To My Cat?

Cats can eat basil in any form, either fresh from your indoor garden or dried. Cats may be attracted to the plant because of its strong aromatic smell. They may try to nibble on a fresh basil leaf, just the same way they try to eat grass. If your cat appears to like the tasty herb, you can feed one or two leaves to your cat occasionally.

Also, dried basil leaves can be crushed and sprinkled on your cat's commercial cat food. You can try this with a small portion of their food and note how they react to it. If they don't seem to mind, you may want to do that occasionally. 

Regardless of the form in which it is consumed, basil offers the same nutrients, even though somewhat little, to cats.

How Often Should I Feed Basil To My Cat?

Cats get all the nutrients they need from their complete and balanced cat food. They do not need to eat basil because, even though basil is not toxic to them, it is not beneficial to them either. Cat owners can choose to opt for healthier snacks made especially for cats that can supplement their diet.

However, if you choose to feed basil to your cat, make sure to feed only one or two leaves at a time. It should be served as an occasional treat to your cat.

Final Words

Some cats may be turned off by the scent of basil. However, if your furry guy shows an interest in basil, a small bite now and then is nothing to worry about. Cats can safely eat basil but only in small amounts.

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