Mint is a widely used plant in both cooking and tea varieties. Many species of mint are safe for both people and pets. But can cats eat mint? That’s the question that we are answering in today’s article, so keep on reading!
Is Is Safe to Give My Cat Mint?
No. Unfortunately, most mint varieties that are part of the genus are unsafe for our feline friends. In fact, some cats can experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms after ingesting mint, but it can also cause a wide range of skin complications.
The biggest issue that pet owners have to face is when cats get into their mint garden patches when they are not looking. As we have previously noted, there are several different kinds of mint, and one of them is safe. It is called catmint, and it is, in fact, a catnip type.
Symptoms of mint toxicity in cats
Whether your pet accidentally ingested mint or she did so willingly, she is likely to experience a number of clinical signs, such as the following:
- Lack of appetite for food and water
- Abdominal pain
While some cats will get back to their old selves once they vomit the ingested mint, others will continue to exhibit these symptoms over the course of several hours. Because cats aren’t well-known for drinking a lot of water in general, dehydration can begin to affect them fast.
For this reason, if your cat somehow managed to eat some mint, we recommend contacting your veterinarian as soon as possible. They will advise you on what you are supposed to do and whether you should take your pet to the animal hospital right away or if you should wait for a couple of more hours.
What Parts of the Mint Plant Are Unsafe for Cats?
The entire plant can cause the same symptoms. Unfortunately, mint contains essential oils all throughout its parts, whether that be the leaves themselves, the stems, or even the flowers that might have blossomed on your plant.
Of all of the varieties within the mint genus, pennyroyal mint is perhaps the most dangerous one for pets. In a matter of just several hours, the ingested plant can cause liver damage, which is an emergency and requires immediate veterinary assistance.
Diagnosing and Treating Mint Toxicity in Cats
When you take your feline friend to the vet clinic, your veterinarian will first perform a physical examination and a number of tests to assess your cat’s health status.
Depending on how much time has passed from the moment your cat ate the mint plant, the vet might try to induce vomiting. However, some mint varieties are easily digestible, so the essential oils in them quickly end up in your cat’s system.
Your vet will ask several questions about what your cat might have ingested and about what behaviors she has shown following the suspected mint mishap. Blood and urine tests are typically performed to tell how your cat’s kidneys and liver are functioning.
Whether the vet has managed to induce vomiting or not, the cat will have to remain in the hospital for at least several hours. IV fluids (especially since the pet can’t drink water or consume any food on their own) are often necessary to replenish the electrolytes that the cat might have lost through diarrhea or vomiting.
A variety of other medications might have to be administered, too, such as anti-nausea drugs and antacids. Since the vet usually does not suspect an infection, especially if your cat is otherwise healthy and vaccinated, anti-infectious medication (such as antibiotics) might not be necessary in this case.
Prognosis and Recovery
Mint toxicity is usually not a medical emergency, especially if the cat manages to vomit the ingested material on their own or if the vet induces vomiting at the clinic. However, some types can be more dangerous than others, and if liver damage has already occurred, the prognosis might be reserved — particularly if the cat is a senior that might already have ongoing chronic health issues for which they receive treatment.
All medications put some pressure on the liver and kidney functions, which means that geriatric patients have a higher chance of experiencing more severe effects to mint toxicity.
A Note on Mint Essential Oil
Essential oils are frequently used in aromatherapy, but many of them can be quite problematic for cats and dogs, too. A cat’s sense of smell is far more superior to that of a human being.
Besides making it possible for cats to pick up scents that we can’t even tell in our living environments, it also makes it more likely for them to experience adverse reactions such as respiratory issues.
Many cats that live in households where mint essential oil is used for aromatherapy can have breathing difficulties, and combined with several cleaning products, and if their owners also smoke, they can actually develop asthma.
As such, we recommend avoiding mint essential oil altogether. Pet-safe products exist, and you should do some research on them.