Hey Pet Parents & Pet Lovers,
It’s no secret that adding spices to your food makes them taste a whole lot better, but are there any spices that are considered unsafe for cats?
I know not everyone is a clutz like me, who admittedly knocks over almost everything in the kitchen, but it’s still important to know whether or not the ingredients you use are toxic to your pets.
The reality is, sometimes accidents happen… you drop a piece of chicken on the floor and your cat eats it, you turn your back for a second and your cat is on the dining room table chowing down on your dinner, or you have a sneaky kitty like Beau who sits quietly beside you and bats the food out of your chopsticks in an instant. Yup, that actually happened to me!
So, let’s talk about my favourite spice! Is Oregano safe for your cat!
No, all forms of oregano are considered toxic towards cats.
WHAT MAKES OREGANO TOXIC?
Oregano is considered toxic due to the essential oils found inside of the plant.
Oregano contains phenols and terpenoids, which are undigestible to cats. Similar to other plants, cats are unable to digest these materials due to the lack of glucuronyl transferase digestive enzymes, which are found in the liver.
IS DIGESTING OREGANO FATAL?
Dependant on how much your cat has consumed, digesting oregano can be fatal.
In most cases, Oregano will cause some gastrointestinal upset in cats. The reaction tends to be fairly mild, though if a lot of oregano is digested, it can lead to more serious complications or poisoning.
Poisonings tend to lead to permanent liver damage if not properly treated or treated quickly enough.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON FORM OF POISONING?
Vets have stated that the most common culprit of oregano poisoning comes from pet parents who mean well. Oftentimes said pet parents believe that oregano can be used medicinally on cats, using oils as antibiotics as many do for themselves.
The second most common form of poisoning comes from pet parents who grow their own oregano in their yards or in pots in the kitchen. In cases like these, pet parents often assume that their cats will not be interested in munching down on the greens, however, these poisonings can be more dangerous as the cats tend to have access to the plants even when there is no human supervision.
In cases where oregano is grown outside, it is important to be aware of the wildlife/neighbours in the area. If you live in a neighbourhood where there are a lot of strays or visiting kitties, make sure that the oregano is not in reach for any passers-by. You can do this by fencing enclosing the area where the oregano is or simply by choosing to grow the oregano indoors in a room that is not normally accessible by your pet.
Note: Oregano should never be administered to a cat orally or topically. If oregano is administered topically your cat is still at risk of toxicity or poisoning, especially if they groom immediately after. That being said, there should be absolutely no reason why you would want to administer oregano.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF OREGANO POISONING?
Unfortunately, not all symptoms of oregano poisoning are immediate and may take some time before they peak their nasty heads. That being said, if your cat shows any of the following signs please make sure to take them immediately to the vet:
- Farting/Gastrointestinal upset
- Nausea/Upset Stomach
- Oral Irritation
- Rashes/Skin Irritation
- Shallow/Trouble breathing
- Liver Failure & Other Liver-Related Issues
- Collapse or Difficulty Walking
VETS DIAGNOSIS PROCESS
Body exams will include an oral and dermal examination to see whether or not the oil has burned your cat’s skin. This will commonly be preceded by a temperature test, heart rate test as well as a blood pressure test. If anything looks out of place, your vet may ask to run a few blood tests to see how much of the oil has reached your cat’s bloodstream.
The most important test tends to be a urinalysis as it will let the vet know whether or not your cat’s liver is functioning. If the poisoning seems serious your vet may request a biopsy of your cat’s liver, which will go through a microscopic examination.
TREATMENTS FOR OREGANO POISONING
Cats will commonly be stabilized through IV and will be monitored until all toxins are washed out of your cat’s body.
Dependant on how serious your cat’s condition is, your cat may be hospitalized for a few days while treated for dehydration.
If a cat is experiencing distress breathing, cats will be put on an oxygen machine to help assist them and may be given sedatives to keep them calm during the process.
If a cat has experienced burns from exposure to oregano their mouths and skin will be thoroughly flushed with water to help reduce the inflammation. No medicines or creams are usually administered, however, this depends from vet to vet.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES MY CAT WILL MAKE IT? WILL MY CAT EXPERIENCE ANY LONG TERM PROBLEMS?
If caught early enough and treatment is properly administered, your cat should have a full and quick recovery with no long term health problems.
That being the case, if not properly dealt with or dealt with fast enough your cat may be left with permanent liver damage. Liver damage, while manageable, can shorten the life expectancy of your cat. When it comes to oregano based liver damage your cat may have to be medicated or given a new diet for the rest of their lives.
I cannot stress how important it is to keep your cats away from oregano. There is absolutely never a circumstance where oregano will be a recommended oil or plant to be administered to your cat.
If you ever suspect your cat has been in contact with oregano and may be poisoned please take your cat to the vet.
Unfortunately, in cases of poisoning, there is nothing you can do from home and an emergency specialist team will need to help you.
That being said, in cases where your cat has only eaten a very small amount of oregano or a bit of oregano oil has touched their skin it will probably cause a little bit of irritation or upset, however, it should pass.
So pet parents, I hope you learned a little bit today about oregano in regards to your cats. I’m curious though, how many of you use oregano? Did you know about its toxicity towards cats? Let me know in the comments below!