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Can Cats Eat Licorice Root? Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

Can Cats Eat licorice-root

Licorice is not only completely safe for cats, but it may also have some health benefits. Truthfully, there are not many studies done on this herb. Therefore, we don’t know exactly what it does and doesn’t do for your feline. However, there are many anecdotal claims.

Licorice is said to have anti-inflammatory properties and contain natural cortisone. Therefore, it may help soothe allergy symptoms and similar anti-inflammatory problems, such as digestive issues. However, you should never try to use this herb to treat any serious medical problems and speak to your vet about it first. As we said, there is little information about the root’s effect on cats. Therefore, you should avoid it just in case it has negative effects under some circumstances.

A small amount likely isn’t going to harm your feline. However, you should avoid using medical-sized dosages or anything of that sort.

Licorice and Cats: The Research

Very little research is on cats consuming licorice or using its extracts for medical purposes. However, there are a few studies that mention it. One such study looked at it in reference to heart disease. The primary purpose of this study was to determine which nutritional and herbal therapies were helpful. While the study found that some nutritional supplements were helpful, licorice was not one of them.

Beyond that, licorice was not mentioned in any research articles that we could discover. It also wasn’t discussed much on veterinary discourse sites or veterinary websites. Therefore, most information regarding its medical uses seems to come from non-medical sources.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean that licorice root shouldn’t be used with cats, we don’t know if it is helpful for any disorder.

Close up of cat eating grass
Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay

Can Cats Eat All Parts of the Licorice Plant?

Cats can eat all parts of the licorice plant, including the roots and leaves. However, you likely don’t want your cat to have too much. It contains glycyrrhizin, which can lower the potassium levels in your cat’s blood. Therefore, it can be dangerous at high levels.

However, we don’t know how dangerous it can be since no studies have been conducted. Thankfully, there isn’t anything toxic about any part of the licorice root. All the pieces of the plant are pretty much the same, so you don’t have to worry about your cat eating a small amount of the leaves or roots.

Can Cats Eat Sweets Flavored with Licorice?

We do not recommend that cats eat any sweets flavored with licorice. On the one hand, sweets are not necessary for cats in the least. They are usually very high in sugar, which is the last thing that cats need.

For the most part, cats need a diet that is high in protein and fat. Sweets do not contain either of these since they are filled with sugar. While an accidental bite likely won’t hurt them, higher amounts can easily cause problems over the long term.

On the other hand, artificial foods that are flavored with licorice usually have licorice extract. It is much stronger than regular licorice, and it contains higher amounts of glycyrrhizin, which can be dangerous. It can lead to increased blood sugar (which your cat will likely experience if they eat sweets).

What About Different Types of Licorice?

There are many types of licorice. Red licorice is one of the most common when it comes to candy. However, it usually doesn’t have licorice in it. Instead, it utilizes different flavorings, such as cherry and cinnamon. Therefore, you’ll want to check the ingredient list to determine whether or not it is safe for your feline to eat.

Black licorice is made with licorice extract. However, as previously stated, the extract can be problematic since it is very strong. Therefore, it can cause problems faster than the plant. Plus, your feline does not need food high in sugar, even if it doesn’t have licorice in it.

Licorice Root
Image Credit: Pixabay

Is Licorice Root Poisonous to Cats?

No. The root is fine in smaller amounts. If your cat accidentally nibbles some, it usually isn’t a problem. However, higher amounts can cause blood sugar problems. However, it would likely take very large portions since no case of licorice poisoning cats has been reported.

It is not considered to be harmful to cats in most cases. If your feline is diabetic or otherwise unhealthy, it may have a stronger effect.

Can Cats Drink Licorice Tea?

Licorice tea is typically fine for cats, though you’ll likely have a hard time getting them to drink it. Cats with specific conditions may be more affected by licorice. Therefore, you should always speak to your vet before serving licorice tea to your cat.

You shouldn’t add anything else to the tea, either. Sugar and other additives can make the tea unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

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Cats may come across licorice accidentally in the garden or kitchen, but the plant is unlikely to hurt them. Theoretically, it could if they ate enough of it, but there are no recorded cases of this happening. Therefore, it is likely that your feline can’t eat enough for it to bother them.

On the other hand, a concentrated form of licorice may be more harmful because it is stronger. Therefore, candies and extracts are more likely to cause problems for your feline.

As you might imagine, licorice may be a problem for cats with health conditions more than healthy ones. It may affect the heart and blood pressure negatively in cats with health problems. It can also raise blood pressure considerably in some cases. While this isn’t usually a problem, it can be an issue for cats with high blood pressure.

Therefore, you should never give a cat licorice before speaking to your vet and ensuring it is safe for your feline.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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