Can Cats Eat Garlic? The Surprising Truth

Cats are known for their curious and adventurous nature, but can they eat garlic? Find out in this comprehensive article. #cathealth #garlic #toxicity
Can Cats Eat garlic?

In this article, we will explore the reasons why cats should not eat garlic, the dangers it poses to their health, and what to do if your cat consumes garlic by accident.

The Allium Family and Its Effects on Cats

Understanding the Allium Family

Garlic is a member of the Allium family, which also includes onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. All of these plants can be toxic to cats, as they contain compounds that can harm their red blood cells and cause various health problems.

Other Toxic Members of the Allium Family

Onions and leeks are also toxic to cats, as they contain similar compounds to garlic that can damage their red blood cells, potentially leading to anemia. Accordingly, it is vital to keep your cat away from any foods containing these plants.

The Science Behind Garlic Toxicity in Cats

Thiosulphate and Hemolytic Anemia

Garlic contains a compound called thiosulphate, which is highly toxic to cats. Upon ingestion, this compound can damage their red blood cells, leading to a condition called hemolytic anemia. This form of anemia can cause a cat's red blood cells to break down, reducing their ability to carry oxygen and potentially leading to organ failure.

Other Harmful Compounds in Garlic

Aside from thiosulphate, garlic also contains other potentially harmful compounds, such as allicin and sulfides, which can cause further damage to a cat's red blood cells.

Recognizing the Signs of Garlic Toxicity in Cats

Early Symptoms

If your cat has ingested garlic, some early symptoms to watch for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing

Long-term Effects and Complications

In severe cases, the long-term effects of garlic toxicity can include organ damage, seizures, and even death. As such, it is crucial to recognize and act upon any symptoms of garlic toxicity in your cat.

Garlic Toxicity in Cats: Myths and Misconceptions

Myth: Garlic as a Flea and Tick Repellent

Some people believe that garlic can be used as a natural flea and tick repellent for cats. However, this is a dangerous myth, as even small amounts of garlic can be toxic to your feline friend. Instead, consult your veterinarian for safe and effective flea and tick treatments.

Myth: Garlic as a Health Supplement for Cats

While humans can enjoy various health benefits from consuming garlic, it is not a suitable supplement for cats. In fact, feeding your cat garlic can cause severe toxicity, leading to potentially life-threatening health issues.

Preventing Garlic Exposure in Your Cat's Diet

Checking Cat Food Ingredients

To keep your cat safe, always check the ingredients list on their food, and avoid any products that contain garlic or other members of the Allium family.

Safe Alternatives to Garlic for Cats

There are many herbs and spices that are safe for cats, such as catnip, parsley, and basil. Consult your veterinarian for advice on suitable alternatives to garlic in your cat's diet.

Emergency Measures for Accidental Garlic Ingestion

First Steps to Take at Home

If you suspect that your cat has eaten garlic, immediately contact your veterinarian for guidance. They may advise you to induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal, depending on the situation.

What to Expect at the Veterinary Clinic

In severe cases of garlic ingestion, your cat may require hospitalization and supportive care, such as IV fluids or blood transfusions. Additionally, your veterinarian will monitor your cat's condition closely to ensure their recovery.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe from Toxic Foods

Educating Yourself on Toxic Foods for Cats

As a responsible cat owner, it is essential to educate yourself on foods that are toxic to cats, such as chocolate, macadamia nuts, and grapes or raisins.

Proper Food Storage and Meal Preparation

Always store potentially toxic foods in a secure location, away from your cat's reach. During meal preparation, be extra careful with garlic and onion-containing ingredients, ensuring they do not accidentally end up in your cat's food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Cats Eat Garlic Bread?

No, cats cannot eat garlic bread, as it contains garlic, which is toxic to them.

Is Garlic Powder Safe for Cats?

No, garlic powder is not safe for cats, as it still contains the harmful compounds found in garlic.

Can Cats Be Allergic to Garlic?

While cats might not necessarily be allergic to garlic, its consumption can still lead to severe health issues due to its toxic properties.


Garlic is a dangerous food for cats due to its toxic compounds that can lead to severe health issues or even death. Cat owners must be diligent in preventing their pets from consuming garlic and should be aware of the signs of garlic toxicity in case an accident occurs. By understanding the risks and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure your cat's safety and well-being.

Medically Reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM

Ivana is a DVM with a specialty in domestic carnivores – dogs & cats. She is passionate about educating pet owners and raising awareness about pet health.

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