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Can Cats Drink Tea? Vet-Approved Facts & Safety Guide

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

a cup of tea outdoors

Vet approved

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You’re sitting down with your favorite hot cup of tea, and your cat is eyeballing you. They want to know just what kind of goodies you have in that cup. If your cat’s expectant stares are causing you to question whether cats can have tea, you have to know that tea is toxic to cats and they cannot have it, but many will try.

It is important to note that some teas are more harmful than others. Common tea contains caffeine, which is toxic to cats and dogs. However, generally speaking, herbal teas do not. Also, whether your cup of tea contains cream, milk, or sugar, it is also something to be taken into consideration. So, if your cat has already taken a swig, don’t panic just yet. Find out what makes tea unsuitable for your felines.

Cats Shouldn’t Drink Tea

Most tea selections contain caffeine, which is toxic to cats—this is just the first bad thing about it. Ultimately, many teas are blends of herbs and spices, and many of these are unsafe for our feline friends. So to even let your cat try a tea, reading the label is of utmost importance.

Don’t worry—if you’re determined, we will go over non-toxic tea selections, too.

Do Cats Like Tea?

Some cats might really seem attracted to tea, while others aren’t at all. Just like any other odd food habits found in pets, it’s a matter of preference for every feline.

If your kitty takes a shine to your tea bags, you need to store them out of reach. There are some herbs, like catnip, that are perfectly safe for your kitty. However, while tea might be pleasurable for your feline to lap up, several varieties shouldn’t be on the menu for cats.

Cat washes feet in a bowl with water
Photo Credit: yykkaa,Shutterstock

Quantity Matters

If your cat just lapped up a little puddle from the table, it’s unlikely to do any real harm. However, if they drink a large amount or chew open a tea bag—you could run into a world of trouble. Even if the herbs aren’t necessarily toxic to them, high consumption can lead to unwanted digestive side effects, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Types of Tea & the Dangers

Certain types of herbs and spices can be highly toxic to cats. That is especially true if they consume any of the contents in the bag—and not just the diluted liquid.

Here are a few herbs and spices that have significant side effects and risks:
  • Bergamont
  • Lavender
  • Ginseng
  • Citrus
  • Spearmint
  • Cinnamon

Each of these spices and herbs is toxic to cats and can cause side effects even in small doses. If you notice any of these ingredients in your tea, make sure it stays out of your cat’s reach.

cup of tea on table
Photo Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

Signs of Toxicity

If your cat consumes caffeinated tea in toxic amounts, they will start to show common signs like:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal Heart Rate
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Restlesness
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures

If you notice these signs, don’t hesitate to get your kitty to the vet as quickly as possible. They will need to be assessed and treated according to the severity of the toxicity.

Tea Additives to Watch For

Many tea preparations contain sugar or sweeteners, and you really have to be careful to control what exactly is in them. Artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, are highly toxic to dogs, and even though their toxicity in cats is not so commonly reported, it is still considered unsafe.

Also, make sure your cat doesn’t consume or chew the tea bags. Teabags can pose a choking and a foreign body hazard.

laying cat sick
Photo Credit: Sisacorn, Shutterstock

Can Cats Have Any Tea?

You should always speak to your vet before offering your cat any human food or drinks. If you decide to let your cats have a sip of your tea, it’s best to stick with something plain with no added ingredients and that’s non-toxic and caffeine-free, like valerian root or apple tea.

Cats + Tea: Final Thoughts

Even though a sip of tea that’s caffeine-free, non-toxic, and mild might not hurt your cat much, it’s recommended to keep your cat away from it altogether. At the very least, it can cause gastrointestinal upset. At the very worst, it can have severe consequences for your pet.

If you suspect your cat drank tea in large quantities or you notice toxicity symptoms, rush them to the vet for immediate treatment.

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Featured Image Credit: Myriams-Fotos, Pixabay

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