Posted by Pet Honesty on

Is Chamomile Safe for Cats? + Surprising Benefits

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Chamomile tea soothes us humans, but did you know that it can be just as beneficial for cats? Still, many people are hesitant to give their feline friends anything herbal. Understandably, many pet owners want to make sure their cats are safe from an upset stomach or any possible allergic reactions.

Luckily, chamomile is indeed a safe herb for cats! As much as we love herbal teas, cats don’t have to sip on them to benefit from chamomile. Here, we'll discuss the two types of chamomile,  the benefits of chamomile for cats, and how to safely give it to them.

What is a Chamomile Plant?

Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that’s native to Europe and Asia. It has bitter properties that can gently cleanse the blood, making it an excellent seasonal herb to give to your pets. It also has cooling energy that can be beneficial for pets that are sensitive to excess heat, which can be particularly helpful during the summer months.

Chamomile can be applied directly to the skin or taken internally. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce redness and swelling, providing relief for itchy or inflamed skin. Internally, it can help with inflammatory gastrointestinal ailments like stomach ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease. Chamomile also helps to alleviate mild anxiety.

It comes in two main varieties: Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Both of these chamomile plants have been used for centuries in traditional medicine. They contain high levels of flavonoids that can help reduce inflammation and act as antioxidants. However, for pets, the German variety is more suitable for cats.

German Chamomile

German chamomile is best suited for cats due to its higher potency and gentler properties. It contains essential oils, flavonoids, and terpenes–all of which work together to provide a range of therapeutic benefits. It can be used internally or externally as a tea, tincture, tablet, or infusion. However, high dosages of any form of chamomile should be avoided.

Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile is a perennial plant with white flowers and looks very similar to German chamomile. However, in contrast to the German chamomile, cats can experience significant internal and external irritation from the toxic components found in Roman chamomile, including terpenoids and flavonoids like chamazulene and bisabolol, as well as volatile oil and anthemic and tannic acids.

Benefits of Chamomile Tea for Cats

Chamomile is known as a natural relaxant in humans, and it’s equally beneficial for cats. It can help reduce anxiety and stress levels, which are common triggers for behavioral issues such as excessive meowing and scratching.

The tea can help with digestion, treating skin conditions, and reducing inflammation. Here’s a closer look at the potential benefits of chamomile for cats:

1. Reduces Anxiety & Stress

Chamomile is an excellent choice for cats who may be feeling stressed or anxious. It’s known to help reduce anxiety in cats and can provide them with a sense of calm. Chamomile works by helping to balance serotonin levels in the brain, which can alleviate mood swings and improve the overall mental health of your furry friend.

2. Treats Skin Conditions

Chamomile can be an effective treatment for skin conditions in cats. It has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, which help soothe skin irritation and reduce inflammation from skin issues like skin allergies or contact dermatitis. Wound healing is also faster when a topical chamomile ointment is applied regularly on your pet's skin.

3. Aids Digestion

Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the stomach and intestines. This can help to relieve upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea. Additionally, chamomile helps relax the digestive muscles which can improve digestion. Stomach acid in  cats can also be reduced by using chamomile tea.

4. Relieves Flatulence

Chamomile can also help to reduce flatulence in cats. This is because it helps to relax the muscles of the digestive system, which enables food to pass through more easily and relieves bloating. Additionally, chamomile has antibacterial properties that can help prevent bacteria from forming in the stomach and intestines.

5. Mild Sedative

Chamomile can act as a mild sedative, too, helping cats to relax and sleep better. Its calming properties, which help reduce nervousness and promote relaxation.

6. Boosts Immunity

Chamomile contains compounds known as polyphenols, which are known to help boost the immune system. This is especially beneficial for cats with weakened immune systems or those that tend to get sick more often. It can also be useful as a preventative measure for cats that have not been vaccinated yet.

7. Brings Down a Fever

Chamomile has been used as a fever reducer for centuries. It helps to reduce body temperature and can be beneficial for cats with fever or any other illnesses that cause high temperatures. Since it contains flavonoids, it can also reduce inflammation and pain in cats.

8. Soothes Respiratory Allergies

Chamomile can be beneficial for cats with respiratory allergies. It helps to reduce inflammation in the airways and throat, which can help to relieve coughing and sneezing. To help combat inflammation and improve lung function in cats with asthma, chamomile tea - which has natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties - can be given to them by mixing a small amount with water or by adding it to their food. Additionally, it has antispasmodic properties that can help reduce symptoms of asthma and other breathing problems.

9. Can help with IBS

Chamomile can be helpful for cats with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It helps reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and provides relief from symptoms like pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Potential Side Effects and Chamomile Poisoning

Although chamomile is generally safe for cats in very small quantities, ingesting it in large amounts can cause serious side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. As with any herb, it’s best to give your pet a small dose first and then increase the amount gradually over time. It’s also important to note that if you give your cat chamomile in any form, it’s important to read the label carefully and make sure that it is specifically designed for cats.

Symptoms of Chamomile Plant Poisoning in Cats

The most common symptoms of chamomile plant poisoning in cats are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive salivation
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

Bleeding tendencies, seizures, and jaundice are also potential symptoms in some cases. If you suspect your cat is suffering from chamomile plant poisoning, contact a veterinarian immediately as they may need medical attention.

Now that you know the potential benefits of chamomile for cats, it’s important to remember that herbal remedies are not always risk-free. That said, here are some frequently asked questions about chamomile and cats to help you make an informed decision:

Q: Can I give my cat chamomile?

A: Yes, but it’s important to do so in very small amounts. It’s also important to speak with your veterinarian before giving any herbal supplement or remedy to your pet.

Q: Are chamomile plants dangerous for cats?

A: While chamomile tea is known for its therapeutic benefits in humans, chamomile plants are potentially dangerous for cats. If ingested in large amounts, chamomile can cause serious side effects and even poisoning. It’s best to keep your cat away from any chamomile plants and if you do decide to give your fur baby some tea or essential oil, make sure that the product comes in  a form specifically designed for cats. Additionally, always consult your veterinarian before introducing any new herb or supplement into your cat’s diet.

Above all else, it’s important to remember that while chamomile can offer some benefits for cats, it is not a substitute for professional veterinary care and should never be used in place of medication prescribed by a veterinarian. Always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the health of your pet.

Q: Can cats be around chamomile?

A: Yes, cats can be around chamomile as long as it’s in the form of tea or essential oil. It’s important to keep them away from any actual plants, however, as ingesting these could cause serious side effects and even poisoning.

Final Reminders

Overall, chamomile can be an effective treatment for skin conditions in cats, as well as a mild sedative to help them relax and sleep better. It has anti-inflammatory properties that also make it useful for relieving upset stomachs and flatulence. However, it’s important to remember that large doses of chamomile can be toxic for cats, so always consult with a vet before giving your pet any herbs.

Remember, never give your cat chamomile in its undiluted form, and keep the doses as low as possible. Chamomile is indeed a safe herb in moderation that can provide your cat with plenty of therapeutic benefits. From reducing anxiety and treating skin conditions, to aiding digestion and soothing an upset stomach, it’s definitely worth adding this gentle herb into your cat’s wellness routine!