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Can Cats Eat Nutmeg? Facts & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove


The holidays are full of sugar and spice. You probably have your baking ingredients ready to go this season. But with that comes the safety of our own food products around our beloved pets.

Nutmeg is a spice. Is it toxic to cats? A small amount of nutmeg likely will have no effect—but large quantities can have dire consequences. Ipso facto, when it comes to nutmeg, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Let’s find out why.

What Is Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is a commonly used kitchen spice that comes from a nutmeg tree called a Myristica fragrans in Indonesia. These trees grow hard casings with small fruits inside. After these components are removed and dried, they are ground into powder and placed in the stores.

Nutmeg is used in all kinds of baking and sweet-inspired dishes. This spice is even more pungent than cinnamon, so it’s best enjoyed in small quantities—for humans. Cats, on the other hand, shouldn’t have nutmeg at all.

Image Credit: scym, Pixabay

Nutmeg Nutrition Facts

Amount Per: 1 tablespoon

Calories 37
Total Fat 2.5 g
Potassium 25 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.5 g
Magnesium 3%
Iron 1%

Why Is Nutmeg Bad for Cats?

In the seed of the plant, there is an oil called myristicin. This substance is toxic once your cat or dog ingests five or more grams. When your pet is affected, they are at moderate risk of a bad reaction, with many other factors playing into how their system will react.

It is unlikely that your cat would consume enough nutmeg to harm them seriously, but even a small amount can give them an upset stomach or make them feel ill. If you know your cat ate nutmeg, it’s best to seek professional help.

If you aren’t sure, you still need to know what to look out for.

birman cat lying
Image Credit: casion, Pixabay

Symptoms of Nutmeg Toxicity

  • Upset stomach
  • Disorientation
  • Dehydration
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Death

Symptoms usually show up three to eight hours after ingestion. If you know your cat ate a concerning amount of nutmeg, don’t hesitate to get them to your vet for further evaluation.

Nutmeg In Cooked Food

Nutmeg is not as toxic to pets in cooked foods, but it should still be avoided. They need to consume at least five grams for actual toxicity to occur, which is an unlikely amount in baked items. So, if your cat took a bite of your holiday dessert—fret not. They will probably be just fine.

However, never offer your cat anything potentially toxic if you know it’s a listed ingredient. If you have a baked good you want to share, do a quick sweep over the ingredients.

Do Cats Like the Taste of Nutmeg?

Nutmeg is a very tantalizing spice because of its spicy, pleasant aroma and unique taste, but do cats feel the same? As with anything else, some cats might be extra curious about this spice while others will show no interest at all.

If your cat likes the taste, make sure to keep an extra eye on them when you have your baking gear out.

cat eating food
Image Credit: Seattle Cat Photo, Shutterstock

Proper Storage for Spices & Herbs

Many spices and herbs are toxic to pets. Because of this, it’s best to completely keep your cats away from your spice cabinet. Keep any of these items in tightly sealed containers, preferably up and away from tiny paws.

Related Read: Can Cats Eat Dragonflies? What You Need to Know!

Cats & Nutmeg: Final Thoughts

Nutmeg might be a delicious seasonal spice to add to chai teas, lattes, and desserts, but it’s not good for your cat. Even though small amounts of nutmeg won’t harm your feline, it’s best not to take any chances.

If your cat ate an unknown amount of nutmeg, call your vet right away for advice. While it isn’t likely to do any harm, some cats might be more sensitive to others, causing a lower tolerance threshold. Never take risks.

Featured Image Credit: gokalpiscan, Pixabay

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