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Can Cats Eat Poppy Seeds? Vet Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Can Cats Eat poppy-seeds

Vet approved

Dr. Tabitha Henson  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Most people have probably eaten something with poppy seeds at some point. Poppy seeds are well known for being an opiate, so if your cat scarfed down part of your poppy seed muffin, you might wonder if it’s safe for your cat. Can cats actually eat poppy seeds?

No, poppy seeds and every part of the poppy are considered toxic to cats. However, your cat would need to ingest a fair amount of poppy seeds for them to be in danger.

Here, we discuss poppy seeds and what symptoms your cat might exhibit if any poppy seeds are actually eaten. We’ll also look at what you should do if your cat did ingest any.

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All About the Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds come from the opium poppy flower. The poppy flower is native to countries in the Northern Hemisphere, but the opium poppy is found in Turkey. It’s this poppy that gives us the seeds that we’re all familiar with.

Unripe poppy seeds have a kind of milky latex, which opium, codeine, heroin, and morphine come from. But the seeds on your bagels and muffins are ripe seeds, which are teensy and kidney-shaped and can be a dark or grayish blue.

Typical poppy seeds do not contain opiates, but they can still be contaminated with opiate residue throughout the harvesting process. While processing the poppy seeds does remove the morphine residue, they can still contain trace amounts.

This is why if you eat too many poppy seeds, you can end up testing positive for opiates. Even just 2 hours after eating something with poppy seeds can cause a person to fail a drug test, and in some cases, you don’t even have to eat very much for this to happen.

However, we can eat a poppy seed bagel and a salad with a poppy seed dressing for lunch and suffer no ill effects. How does this work with cats?

poppy seeds
Image By: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Cats and Poppy Seeds

The Pet Poison Helpline has the poppy seed listed as a toxin for cats and dogs. All parts of the poppy flower can be relatively toxic to cats, but the seeds themselves aren’t necessarily poisonous unless a large amount of them are eaten.

The symptoms that cats can exhibit after eating poppy seeds can also occur if your cat eats any part of the poppy flower:

Poppy seeds affect the cat’s central nervous system, particularly the brain, and the cats will all react a little differently. Some cats might become lethargic, while others will become quite hyper and excited. This is the more common reaction for cats, while dogs are more likely to be sedated and sleepy.

If your cat has eaten something with poppy seeds, keep a watch on them over the next several hours, and bring them to your vet if the symptoms get worse or even if you’re just worried.

A Cat’s Diet

In the long run, cats shouldn’t be eating seeds, anyway. Cats are classified as obligate carnivores, which means that most of a cat’s diet should contain meat. In fact, at least 70% of your cat’s diet should consist of some kind of animal protein.

Since cats are carnivores, they have a much harder time digesting and absorbing plant and vegetable matter. This includes things like nuts and seeds.

Usually, the best thing that you can do for your cat is to provide a balanced diet that has been made specifically for cats. Most cat food contains the right nutritional balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, as well as a substantial amount of animal protein.

So, your cat might occasionally sneak a bite of food that isn’t necessarily good for them (and might include poppy seeds), which is okay from time to time. But don’t add anything to your cat’s diet that hasn’t been created for them or that shouldn’t be a part of their overall diet. This includes feeding cats a vegetarian or vegan diet.

This can cause many health issues for cats now and especially in the future.

Now that you know what you can safely feed your cat, it’s just as important to find a bowl that supports their health and well-being. With whisker-friendly bowls and a wide tray to catch any spills, our Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite option.

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  • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
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Poppy seeds are considered toxic for cats, and while it might take a large amount to make your cat seriously ill, you clearly don’t want to take that chance. Also, some foods that contain poppy seeds might have other ingredients that won’t be good for your cat, so it’s best to stick with cat food and cat treats, and don’t let your cat eat from your table or plate.

Always speak to your veterinarian if you’re ever worried about what your cat eats or has eaten, even by accident. You should also call the Pet Poison Helpline if you’re unsure if you should bring your cat to the emergency clinic or if what your cat has eaten will be harmful in some way (there is usually a small fee for this service).

Related Reads:

Featured Image Credit: Ubacher, Pixabay

Kathryn Copeland

Authored by

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bell...Read more

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