Among the substances harmful to animals, there are sometimes real surprises. Can the cat eat licorice, whether in candy or as a root or herb? Let’s find out.
Let’s say that together with friends, we or our children are enjoying some tasty licorice delicacies, such as candies, sweets or even simple roots. At one point we left the sweets on the table and left the room. Before we can go back and fix everything, our kitty jumped on the table and ate several pieces of licorice. Should we worry? Is it safe food for our four-legged friends? Can cats eat licorice or are there any contraindications? In this article, we will explore some potential risks of licorice to our pets, to keep our cat happy and healthy.
Can cats eat licorice, in all its versions?
Licorice is a perennial herb and spice in the Fabaceae family, the same family as the peas. Botanically, it is known as Glycyrrhiza glabra. Its flavor closely resembles that of anise, and its leaves and roots are used to flavor foods, sweets, tobacco and herbal teas. It is also an ingredient used in cough syrups, lozenges, and elixirs, in addition to its popular medicinal significance.
Finally, it is necessary to distinguish between licorice herb and black licorice, which is a confectionery product made using the root extract of this plant with other ingredients, including sugar and binding agents.
Can the cat eat black licorice or licorice sweets?
No. It is not recommended that cats eat sweets flavored with licorice extract. A small amount can help with sore throats and stomach upsets. However, since – as we said – it also has glycyrrhizin, excessive amounts can lead to an increase in blood sugar.
Red licorice is a separate case. This pastry treat is a candy made to resemble licorice but is actually made up of other main flavors such as raspberry, cherry, cinnamon, strawberry, mango, apple, black currant, watermelon and so on and rarely contains licorice extract.
But it is not the case to give it to the cat anyway, because it is not healthy as it is a very sweet food. Sugary foods can increase the risks of obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. Additionally, these pets are unable to digest many carbohydrates, as they are strict carnivores and too much sugar can cause stomach upset.
Obviously, our cat shouldn’t eat any kind of licorice candy. There are no sweets suitable or safe for cats. Their sugar content is already a great reason why we must avoid them . If your cat eats too much sugar he can have a variety of health problems, including weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and more. In addition, ingesting a large amount of sugar can lead the cat to experience problems with its tummy, which could cause vomiting and diarrhea, among other concerns.
Licorice is not safe for cats, also because it can lead to hypertension and even liver damage, depending on the quantity and type. Hence, the best thing is to completely avoid licorice in the diet of cats.
Even if your cat tastes a bit or a small amount of this food (for example with licorice candy), this may only make him feel a little sick, but still not worth the risk. It also offers no nutritional benefits for the kitty.
But other potential dangers are also contained in licorice candy. This sticky candy can easily get stuck in your cat’s teeth, leading to tooth decay if not wiped off completely after eating.
Another concern regarding licorice for cats is that it may be sweetened with xylitol. This is a sugar substitute that is highly toxic to cats. If our furry friend accidentally eats licorice candy, let’s check the ingredients list to make sure xylitol isn’t used in this particular candy.
Licorice candy is also a concern for cats due to its packaging. If your cat ingests one of the candy boxes that come in, she could run the risk of choking, which could be life-threatening. The cat could also experience intestinal blockage if the package passes through the stomach and into the intestine . Because it won’t be digested, it can lodge itself in the intestines, creating a potentially life-threatening obstruction.
While there are various benefits to humans, licorice root and leaves still have many risks associated with eating too much. Kittens should definitely not eat licorice . In the event that our kitten ingests a large amount of this herb or candy, we contact the veterinarian for further diagnosis and treatment if necessary, to avoid poisoning.
Are licorice roots or leaves suitable?
Among experts, there is no real consensus on how safe licorice is as an herb. Some say it is safe and useful, while other experts seem to consider it unsafe for cats. A holistic vet may be more likely to recommend the use of licorice root with our cat than a traditional vet. According to some vets, many cats like the taste of licorice, and this herb can be used as a natural anti-inflammatory or to soothe allergies, endocrine and digestive problems, and respiratory problems.
This root appears to have anti-inflammatory properties that make it great for cats with arthritis, and may also help relieve allergies. Some argue that licorice root, in pure and moderate amounts, may have a number of cat health benefits, such as promoting liver detoxification. The cat can also eat licorice for other properties, to be used as a laxative, diuretic, expectorant, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antifungal, among many other things.
And while it appears to have numerous benefits, it has glycyrrhizin, a substance that lowers the potassium level and can lead to low blood potassium levels. Also, eating too much can cause high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, or interact with other medicines. It can also cause weight gain, weakness, shortness of breath, paralysis, kidney failure, and so on (even in humans). But just because it offers some potential health benefits doesn’t mean it’s safe for your cat.
What to do if the cat eats licorice
Depending on the type of licorice and the amount ingested, we will need to show our cat to the vet. And the sooner we do it, the better. It is possible that licorice binds in the intestines and can cause a blockage, or it could be very bad for your cat if you have black licorice.
A trip to the emergency vet is required, and it must be immediate. If the licorice moves beyond our cat’s stomach, it will need to be surgically removed and will be out of the reach of a simple endoscope.