There are a lot of foods that cats can’t eat. Most of these foods are going to make them mildly sick without any real complications.
Some will have to be consumed in mass quantities for there to be a major impact on the cat. Garlic, though? Oh, that is a whole other ball game.
Garlic is potentially one of the most dangerous normal foods that a cat can eat. In fact, anything from the garlic family could be potentially deadly to cats (onions, chives, etc.).
Let’s take a look, shall we?
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Can cats have garlic?
Absolutely not. Garlic is incredibly toxic to cats. They shouldn’t even be going near the stuff.
Now, if your cat has consumed a tiny bit of garlic, then they should be fine.
For example, if you were eating something with a dash of garlic powder and your cat took a bite, they should be fine.
The low quantity means that the risk of them getting sick is low. It is a little bit higher in kittens due to their body size but, even then, there should be no real cause for concern.
If your cat is regularly tucking into garlic or has eaten a hefty chunk of it, then you may need to start worrying a little bit.
This is especially true with kittens where even the smallest amount of fresh garlic can have a huge impact on them. In fact, there is a strong chance that the garlic could be deadly.
Why should cats avoid garlic?
Garlic, and other plants in that family, contain a compound known as thiosulphate. Your cat will have a hard time digesting the thiosulphate.
Now, this thiosulphate is not going to leave your cat’s body all that quickly. In fact, it is going to float on through the bloodstream.
As it does this, the thiosulphate is going to start to attack red blood cells. In fact, it won’t just be attacking them, it will be completely destroying them.
The problem is that when the cat has a lot of thiosulphate floating around its body, the blood cells will be destroyed faster than the cat’s body can replace them.
The cat needs these red blood cells, though. Their job is to help to carry oxygen throughout the system. The red blood cells will help to keep the body’s organs chugging along.
The reduction in red blood cells will lead to a condition known as hemolytic anemia. The result can be the cat’s organs not getting the oxygen supply that they need.
This can result in the organs not functioning correctly. If the hemolytic anemia is serious (i.e. the cat has eaten a lot of garlic), this can lead to organ failure. If that happens, then your cat could die.
You would think that this would all happen when the cat has digested a ton of garlic. It doesn’t.
Your cat doesn’t need to be eating that much garlic. In fact, a single clove of garlic has been known to kill cats. A fraction of this could be enough to kill a kitten.
Honestly, garlic is the last thing that you want your cat to be eaten. This is one of those rare foods that could be deadly even in the smallest of quantities.
It will make your cat very sick before they reach that point, though.
Also read: best cat window perch for indoor cats.
Can you use garlic therapies on your cat’s skin?
We know that there are certain remedies designed to keep fleas and the like at bay. Some of these involve the use of garlic. We have seen people suggest that you apply garlic to your cat’s fur. Do NOT do this.
Your cat could absorb the garlic through their skin. This can cause anemia, particularly if you are using the treatment regularly.
There is also the risk of your cat licking their fur which, of course, means that they are going to be digesting the garlic that way.
Under absolutely no circumstances should you ever be letting garlic get close to your cat.
You should never, ever be taking that risk. it is that deadly.
What are the symptoms of garlic intoxication in cats?
This is where you are going to have a little bit of a problem.
The symptoms of garlic intoxication in cats will not start right away. In fact, it can take up to three days for the symptoms to start to appear.
By this time, most pet owners won’t have a clue that their cats actually ate garlic. If you do catch your cat eating garlic, then it is important that you take them to the vet before they start to exhibit any symptoms.
By the time the symptoms actually do appear, they can be fatal.
The symptoms of garlic intoxication in cats will be similar to the symptoms of any type of anemia.
Often, the first symptom you may spot will be a tired cat.
As their organs start to be denied oxygen, their whole body will start to slow down. They won’t be running around in the same way.
They may be spending a lot of time hanging around their bed. They may not even want to eat because they do not need that extra energy.
As this happens, if you look inside your cat’s mouth, you may notice that their gums start to lose a little bit of their color.
This is because the red blood cells will not be heading there in the same way that they did before. The healthy red blood cells are elsewhere in the body.
As they get more fatigued, you will notice that your cat will struggle to breathe. If you touch their chest, then you may notice an increase in their heart rate too.
However, it is obvious that your cat will now be terribly sick and you need to do something. Once your cat has progressed to this point, the symptoms are very serious and if you don’t get them to a vet soon, they may potentially die.
After the cat’s body has been ravaged for a couple of days, it will eventually collapse from fatigue. If your cat collapses, then this indicates there is something majorly wrong.
By this point, the anemia would have progressed quite rapidly. and your cat may now be dealing with organ failure.
It isn’t guaranteed, but if your cat has collapsed, there is a strong chance. In either case, you now need to get them to the vet rapidly.
Also read: cat body language explained.
What can you do if your cat has eaten garlic?
If you notice that your cat has eaten garlic right away, and it doesn’t seem to be a large quantity (i.e. the cat has eaten less than a clove, unless it is a kitten), then you can probably treat it at home.
You can give your cat activated charcoal. This should help to ensure that the thiosulphate doesn’t get into their system and start to cause serious symptoms.
In most cases, this should be enough to deal with the problem. However, keep an eye on your cat’s symptoms over the next few days to make sure that the problem doesn’t get any worse.
If you noticed that your cat has eaten a clove or more of garlic (or you have a kitten), then you should probably take them to your vet. The vet will have more tools at their disposal.
They will help to flush out the cat’s stomach. It won’t be the most pleasant experience for the animal as they will be vomiting quite a lot, but at least it won’t be running the risk of dying.
If your cat has progressed to the symptom stage, then things become a bit trickier to deal with. This is something that only the vet can do, but they will need to diagnose the cat beforehand.
Thankfully, most vets will have the resources needed if anemia is a problem (and your cat hasn’t yet reached the stage of organ failure).
This can include blood transfusions, therapies to get more oxygen into the system, and IV fluids. Your cat will need to stay at the vet’s for several nights to make sure that the treatments are working.
Sadly, if the condition has moved onto organ failure, then there isn’t really a lot that can be done.
However, thankfully, if you take your cat to the vet as soon as the symptoms start, then the chances of this happening are low. Organ failure is a very late stage problem for anemia.
Garlic is bad for cats. We don’t beat around the bush. If a cat consumes garlic, there is a very real risk that they could die.
Thankfully, most cats will recover from their symptoms. However, it is vital that you get the treatment that your cat needs the very second the symptoms start to present themselves.
The longer you leave it, the greater the chance you have of losing your friend.