Chamomile is a flowering plant best known for its sweet fragrance and delicate taste. It looks a bit like small daisies, with flowers with a yellow center and white petals. Chamomile is common in gardens, herbal teas, and essential oils, but just because it is human-safe doesn’t make it good for cats. In fact, chamomile is toxic to cats!1
But before you start purging your house of all things chamomile, take a moment to consider how much danger your cat is in. Chamomile poisoning is rare because it takes a large dose or repeated doses over time to cause a toxic effect in cats.
Sources of Chamomile
Cats can get chamomile in a variety of ways, but the most common sources of chamomile that your cat will come across are fresh plants, dried chamomile, and chamomile fragrance or oils. All parts of the chamomile plant are toxic to cats in large doses, including the petals, leaves, stems, and roots. Dried chamomile is a common food ingredient that is often found in herbal teas and supplements. If you keep chamomile tea or another food with dried chamomile in your home, make sure it is out of reach from your cats.
A final source is chamomile oils. These are often found in essential oil blends and fragrances. Because chamomile oils are concentrated, a smaller dose can cause poisoning. Make sure to keep all essential oils out of reach of cats, including oils that contain chamomile.
Signs of Chamomile Poisoning
Chamomile poisoning has various signs that depend on the dose and the health of your cat. Some common signs that your cat is having a reaction to chamomile are vomiting, diarrhea, and irritated skin. Chamomile also contains common allergens, so any sign of an allergic reaction might come from chamomile. If your cat is eating chamomile over a longer period, more serious signs might develop. These signs include anorexia or loss of appetite, as well as a tendency to bleed or bruise easily.
What to Do if Your Cat Eats Chamomile
If you see your cat getting into chamomile, you usually don’t need to take your cat to the vet right away. Monitor your cat for signs of poisoning and seek veterinary help if you see serious signs. More importantly, make sure that you can prevent your cat from ingesting chamomile in the future. Chamomile toxicity can build up over time, so your cat is in much more danger if they keep going back to the chamomile. Move your chamomile or take other steps to prevent your cat from accessing it.
As you can see, chamomile isn’t the safest plant to have around cats, but it’s also not likely to be life-threatening. Most cats aren’t attracted to the smell of chamomile, and it is usually not dangerous in small doses. This makes chamomile poisoning rare but not impossible. It’s important to monitor your cat’s environment carefully so that you are aware if they have health changes and you can communicate possible dangers to your vet if needed.
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