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Can Cats Eat Licorice Root? Everything You Need to Know!

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

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.

This herb 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. It can also soothe mucus membranes to help in colds.

Many people also claim it is great for those with arthritis.

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 not much information about this root when given to 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

There is very little research 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 main purpose of this study was to determine which nutritional and herbal therapies were helpful. While this study did find that some nutritional supplements were helpful, licorice was not one of these.

Beyond that, this herb was not mentioned in any research articles that we could discover. It also wasn’t mentioned much on veterinary discourse sites or veterinary websites. Therefore, it seems that most information regarding its medical uses comes from un-medical sources.

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

Can Cats Eat All Parts of the Licorice Plant?

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

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

However, we don’t really know how dangerous it can be since there have not been any studies on it.

Others claim that it can be helpful, which may be true. We just don’t know at this point.

With that said, there isn’t anything toxic about any part of this plant. 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 that are flavored with licorice. On the one hand, sweets are often 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 usually do not contain either of these since they are filled with sugar. For this reason, we do not recommend that you feed any sweets to your cat.

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. This is much stronger than regular licorice, and it will contain higher amounts of glycyrrhizin, which can be dangerous. It can lead to increased blood sugar (which your cat is likely going to experience if they eat sweets, to begin with).

What About Different Types of Licorice?

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

Not all of these foods contain the same flavorings, and some potential flavors will be dangerous to your cat.

Black licorice is made with actual licorice extract. However, as we’ve previously stated, this 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, anyway – even if it didn’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, this usually isn’t a problem. However, higher amounts may cause blood sugar problems, which may cause serious illness. With that said, it would likely take very high amounts since there isn’t actually any case of licorice poisoning cats published.

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 eat it. Cats with specific conditions may be more affected by licorice. Therefore, you should always speak to your vet before attempting to dose your cat with licorice tea. Be careful when dosing a cat with kidney disorders, heart conditions, and high blood pressure.

Even healthy cats may be negatively affected at high amounts. However, this can be said with nearly any medicine out there.

You shouldn’t add anything else to the tea, either. Sugar and other additives can make the tea unhealthy and potentially dangerous, depending on what it is exactly.


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

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

Conversely, there are some reports of licorice actually being helpful for some cats. However, this has not been heavily studied and is mostly a case of anecdotal knowledge. We don’t currently know if any of the positive claims are true, nor how effective licorice is for certain health problems.

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

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

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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