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Can Cats Eat Cilantro? What You Need to Know!

Lindsey Lawson

By Lindsey Lawson

cilantro in a vase

Cilantro, also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a common herb and spice used across the world in a variety of cuisines including Italian, Mexican, and Indian.

This popular herb is a staple in most households and is used to season meats, rice, and vegetables. It also makes a great addition to salads, soups, and even some juice. Cilantro has a very distinct odor with a tart, lemony flavor.

Whether it be for safety reasons or to see if this herb would benefit your cat as a supplement to their diet, you have found yourself asking if cilantro is safe for cats. The short answer is yes, cilantro is safe for cats, as it is not toxic to them.

As for overall safety and whether it should be included in a cat’s diet, we’ll cover all the details below.

Benefits of Cilantro

Cilantro leaves contain carbohydrates, small amounts of proteins and fats, vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, C, E, K as well as calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, sodium, and potassium. As you can see, the health benefits of this herb are vast, for humans.

The good news is that while cilantro is related to parsley—which is toxic to cats—it is not toxic and is considered quite safe for feline consumption. It is important to keep in mind that cats are not built to eat anything other than meat so they will not get the benefits from cilantro that we humans can.

As pet owners, you must provide your cat with a high-quality diet that is designed to fit their specific nutritional needs. Though cilantro is not toxic or dangerous for your cat, it is not beneficial to them at all and there is no reason to offer it to them.

cilantro plants
Image Credit: marsraw, Pixabay

Why Doesn’t It Benefit My Cat?

Cats are obligate carnivores that are not designed to digest plant material effectively. In small amounts, it will not cause any issues, however, large amounts of plant-based material and carbohydrates can have adverse health effects on our felines.

It is not uncommon for cats to get diarrhea, gas, and upset stomach after ingesting plant material. Too many plant-based carbohydrates can cause strain on the pancreas and can even lead to obesity due to their digestive system’s inability to break it down properly.

In addition, when a digestive system is unable to break down something effectively, it cannot absorb the nutrients from that food source. Therefore, no health benefit can be had from a cat consuming cilantro.

Do Cats Like Cilantro?

Cats are finicky eaters and will typically turn their noses at much less. Chances are that your cat will have absolutely no interest in eating cilantro. Some individuals may like the taste of this herb or may even get into your stash to chew and play, which is a perfectly natural behavior.

The good news is that if your cat does like cilantro, eating a small amount will cause no harm other than potential digestive discomfort. Keep any portions of cilantro for your cat very small, remember their stomachs are a lot smaller than ours.

fresh cilantro with roots
Image Credit: lesterjamesuagum, Pixabay

Proper Diet and Nutrition for Cats

Domesticated cats and other members of the Felidae family, including all species of wild cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they get all their dietary needs directly from meat. Most cat foods on the market are designed to meet your cat’s nutritional needs but it is important to provide them with the most high-quality options.

Cat owners need to learn how to read cat food labels. While there are many great options out there, there are some less-than-desirable foods for sale as well. Real meat as the first ingredient is a must.

We have provided a list of some unnecessary and even potentially harmful ingredients that are included in some commercial cat foods. It is essential to speak to your veterinarian about the best food products and the ingredients to avoid.

Unnecessary/Potentially Harmful Ingredients

Preservatives

The three most used preservatives you will find in cat food are BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. These preservatives have been known to cause allergies (or worsen them) and are possibly carcinogenic(cancer-causing.) It is best to avoid these synthetic preservatives and opt for natural preservatives such as rosemary and vitamin E.

Fillers

A filler is something that has been added to your cat’s food to help him feel fuller but contains little to no nutritional value and can even be harmful. Common fillers found in cat food include grains and carbohydrates such as wheat and corn, soy, animal fats, animal by-products, and more. These fillers are cheap substitutes for necessary protein and should be avoided.

Artificial Colors and/or Flavors

A lot of lower-quality cat foods contain artificial colors and flavors that are designed to make them look, smell and taste better. Types of artificial colors or dyes include Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellows 5 and 6. High-quality foods made from the necessary, nutritious ingredients that cats need, do not require these additives because they’re already naturally alluring to your cat’s smell and taste.

Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs and Herbal Additives

As described above, a cat’s digestive system is not designed for anything other than meat. They are not capable of properly digesting plant life, and it is completely unnecessary to include fruits and vegetables in cat food. While most fruits and vegetables added to cat foods are not harmful in small amounts, having them part of their daily feeding is unnecessary.

a bowl of cilantro leaves
Image Credit: AhaaRuchi, Pixabay

Commercial Cat Food

Commercial cat foods come in a variety of types including dry kibble, wet canned food, fresh cuts, and even freeze-dried.  All will vary in water content, protein level, caloric density, digestibility, and palpability. Reading the label, checking the ingredients, and discussing your choice with a veterinarian is vital to ensure you are offering your cat a healthy diet that is well balanced and full of all the needed nutrients for them to thrive.

Quantity

The quantity of food you offer your precious cat depends on their age, size, and activity level. Cats can be finicky eaters but once they find something they like, they can go overboard if they are allowed to do so. Cat food labels will include the recommended quantity of each brand based on your cat’s weight. As always, talking to your veterinarian can help you come up with a great meal plan.

Overfeeding or offering too many calories for your cat can lead to obesity, which can cause a slew of other health issues as well. It is recommended to feed at mealtimes, which are usually twice a day in the morning and evening, and to pick the food up in between meals.

Conclusion

Cilantro is non-toxic and does not pose a danger if consumed by cats. As strict meat-eaters, cats get all their needed nutrients directly from meat, and eating cilantro will provide them no benefit whatsoever. A cat’s carbohydrate requirement is much lower, and they are unable to digest plant material properly. There is no reason to offer your cat cilantro but there is no reason to panic if they were to eat it.


Featured Image Credit: ka_re, Pixabay

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