Garlic is used in many dishes around the world. It provides several health benefits and has even been used in older civilizations such as the Egyptians and Chinese for its medicinal properties.
Garlic supplements can help in improving your immune system and keep away illnesses such as the common cold.
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Garlic can also help in bringing down your blood pressure and reduce the chances of a heart attack or a stroke.
It also reduces your cholesterol levels and has antioxidants that are effective in preventing diseases related to age such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. It can improve your bone health as well.
Garlic adds a good flavor to dishes and is quite popular among many cuisines.
While garlic is clearly very beneficial to human beings, can your feline friend have any garlic? Is it safe for cats to eat garlic in any form?
Can Cats Eat Garlic Safely?
Can pets eat garlic? The short answer is a definite no.
Garlic is very toxic for cats and your feline friend should be nowhere close to it. Garlic contains compounds that affect the red blood cells in your cat and cause them to burst.
So, if your cat eats garlic, it may end up causing a condition called hemolytic anemia.
Even a small amount, such as a single clove, can end up causing organ damage to your feline friend.
Cats should also not have any garlic powder either. Even one-eighth of a teaspoon of garlic powder can be terrible for them. If you have any dishes that are made using garlic or garlic powder, keep your cat away from them.
Can cats have garlic? It's a big no!
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Is Garlic Toxic for Cats?
Vegetables such as onions, leeks, chives, shallots, and garlic are all members of the allium family.
But when compared with garlic, you might even think onions are only mildly dangerous! A clove of garlic is five times as toxic to cats compared with onions.
For your cat to be seriously harmed, it takes only 5 gm of onion. But garlic has no such limitations.
Even a tiny amount of garlic can be devastating to your cat’s health. While the amount of damage depends on the cat’s traits such as its weight and how susceptible it is to poisoning, all cats are definitely in danger.
If you make dishes that have garlic in their recipes, don’t share it with your feline friend. Garlic is very toxic for your cat because it has a high concentration of a dangerous compound called thiosulphate.
The minimum it can do is cause a gastrointestinal upset in your cat, but at the other end is the risk of damage to kidneys and red blood cells. If there are not enough red blood cells in your cat, then not enough oxygen is carried to all its tissues.
This will make your cat very sick and lead to long-term complications.
You may have read or heard that garlic is a natural antidote to fleas. Even if that may be true, the risk is simply not worth it. If you want a natural remedy, you can put a bowl of warm and soapy water beside the place your cat usually sleeps.
Fleas get attracted to that and drown in the water.
Also, brushing and bathing your cat regularly would be an even more effective way of making sure they don’t have fleas.
But giving them garlic is certainly not an option.
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Symptoms of Garlic Toxicity in Cats
If your cat has managed to take in a bit of your soup or broth that had a small amount of garlic in it, you need to keep a lookout for the symptoms.
Typically, they do not show up for two to four days. But if you already know that your cat has sampled some garlic, then it’s best to rush them to the vet.
Garlic poisoning would have symptoms such as breathlessness, loss of appetite, an upset stomach, drooling, nausea, and oral irritation.
You should also check their urine to see if there is any discoloration. Your cat would also lose its appetite, have pale gums, and suffer from lethargy and general weakness
If your cat is panting and has an increased respiratory rate and heart rate, then it could also be because of garlic poisoning.
Garlic poisoning can potentially cause muscle tremors, seizures, and coma.
So there is an array of symptoms to look out for.
Treating Garlic Poisoning
If your cat has eaten garlic cloves take them to the vet immediately. They will induce vomiting in your cat to get rid of the food they’ve eaten.
The vet may even consider a stomach wash to completely clear your cat's stomach and prevent further digestion.
You may think you can do this yourself and try to save your cat faster than going to the vet.
But that wouldn’t be a good idea and it’s always better for the experts to do it.
This way, you won’t end up inadvertently harming your cat.
In case you only find out about garlic poisoning through the symptoms, it means the garlic has already been digested by your cat.
In such cases, your vet would give your cat intravenous fluid so that the toxins can be flushed out of the system.
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Your vet would also likely give your cat some medication to treat gastrointestinal issues, such s a hydrogen peroxide solution, or administer activated charcoal, which absorbs toxins and prevents them from entering your cat’s bloodstream.
In case the situation is severe anemia, then your cat would require a blood transfusion.
Treatment can usually take several days. It is also usually expensive to treat garlic poisoning. So, it would be best for you and your cat to keep them away from garlic at all costs.
Can Cats Eat Garlic? Summary
Can cats eat garlic? Two words.
The best way to prevent garlic toxicity would be to make sure your cat doesn’t get access to any of it.
Even eating small amounts over a period of time can cause immense damage to your cat. If you happen to use garlic supplements for yourself, then make sure your curious cat does not get a paw to it.
It’s best to put all kinds of garlic away from your cat’s reach so that there is no risk at all.
Also, if you use garlic in your food, don’t share it with your cat even if your feline friend begs you incessantly.
Only by being vigilant can you ensure your cat remains healthy.