Friday, February 24, 2012

Natural Remedies for Felines — Is Cinnamon Safe for Cats?

With the popularity of natural remedies on the rise, many people have begun wondering how many of the various herbs and other plants are safe for their feline companions. Cinnamon is commonly used by humans to aid digestion, relieve pain, and lessen the impact of colds and flus. But is cinnamon safe for cats?

Cinnamon Bark and Its Dangers

One of the most common problems of any natural remedy is ensuring that you have the right herb. In many cases, cinnamon is confused with cinnamon bark. True cinnamon, that which is found in most spice cabinets, is the inner bark of a small evergreen tree. Cinnamon bark is from the exterior of the plant.

Experts recommend that cinnamon bark not be used in any consumer products for either humans or animals. The bark, oil, and extract are all dangerous. If ingested in even small quantities, the cat could begin vomiting. Your cat may also develop severe liver problems. Cinnamon bark oil could irritate the eyes and even cause blindness. Cinnamon bark should be avoided for the health of your cat.

Cinnamon and Cats

In very small quantities, ground cinnamon is safe enough in cats. Some may even enjoy the taste of a little powdered cinnamon, though most cats seem not to like the odor. Do not allow your cat to ingest more than the smallest amount of cinnamon. In larger quantities, cinnamon may induce vomiting.

Cinnamon, like peppermint and other herbs, can have a variety of effects on cats. Some will find it calming; others will be stimulated. Some will react to cinnamon much in the same way as they will to catnip. There are also those cats who will hate it. You will have to observe your own feline to determine if cinnamon is right for your cat.

However, it is important to remember that cats have a heightened sense of smell. A scent that is pleasant to a person may be overwhelming for a feline. When using cinnamon around your cats, use as little as possible. Many cats hate the scent of cinnamon to the point where it becomes a repellent. In fact, some people use cinnamon as a decent cat repellent.

Cinnamon oil and extract should not be used around cats at any time. Both of these might burn a cat’s delicate skin and could damage mucus membranes around the eyes or in the mouth. Cinnamon oil may also contain a derivative of ASA, or acetylsalicylic acid (a pain reliever sold over the counter under proprietary brand names, including ASPIRIN® brand ASA). ASA is highly toxic to cats.

Some cats truly enjoy the scent and taste of cinnamon. For these cats, a small amount of cinnamon on their food or inside a toy (much like a catnip toy) can amuse and delight. Is cinnamon safe for cats? Yes, in small quantities. So, if you have a cat that enjoys cinnamon, use it sparingly.

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