Is Cinnamon Bad for Cats? A Veterinarian Shares What You Need To Know

An expert explains why cinnamon might not be so sweet for cats.

cat with a background pattern of cinnamon sticks; is cinnamon bad for cats?
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The smell and taste of cinnamon are synonymous with comfort. Think of a sweet cinnamon roll, soft snickerdoodle, or cozy, hot drink. Cinnamon is also said to have some health benefits for humans.

But when it comes to our feline friends, can cats eat cinnamon? Or is cinnamon bad for cats? A veterinarian gave us the scoop on why cinnamon and cats aren't the best mix.

Why Is Cinnamon Bad for Cats?

Cinnamon adds a hint of sweet, earthy flavor to our seasonal drinks and baked goods. And while we may indulge in this popular spice, it can be harmful to our feline friends if they're also drawn to its warm, toasty aroma.

Although the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center doesn't consider cinnamon toxic for cats, the Pet Poison Helpline points out that the question of toxicity is complicated due to its various forms.

"Cats lack a liver enzyme to metabolize cinnamon compounds, so they could potentially have problems with indigestion," says Debra Eldredge, DVM, of Cat World and author of Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook.

Cinnamon contains coumarin, a naturally occurring compound that's medically used as a blood thinner. "A large dose could conceivably cause problems for your cat with clotting," Eldredge says.

She adds that cats may also get a reaction in their mouths when they ingest cinnamon, such as redness and irritation.

Types of Cinnamon

Your cat can encounter cinnamon in many household staples. Here are the most common cinnamon products and if they are safe for cats.

Powdered Cinnamon

Are you a fan of using cinnamon in your recipes? Not to worry.

"A fairly high dose of the spice itself is required for any signs of toxicity in pets—figure, a teaspoonful for a cat," Eldredge says. "You should be fine cooking with cinnamon, but watch your cat so she doesn't try to sip any drinks with cinnamon in them."

Cinnamon Essential Oil

Essential oils smell delightful but pose serious health risks to cats due to cats' heightened skin sensitivity and powerful sense of smell. Eldredge says cinnamon essential oils can be highly concentrated, and therefore, dangerous.

Just a tiny amount of cinnamon essential oils could cause problems such as:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Unsteady walking
  • Changes in behavior
  • Hypothermia
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse

Cinnamon Broom

Cinnamon brooms make every space smell fresh and festive for fall. But their powerful scent can be overwhelming to cats' sensitive noses. Plus, if your curious kitty decides to chew on the broom, she could experience redness and irritation around her mouth.

Cinnamon Candles

Cinnamon candles are popular during the fall and holiday seasons. Ideally, it's best to avoid lighting candles around your pets. However, you can light them in a space away from your cats.

"Cinnamon spiced candles might be more attractive for a cat to chew on, but the actual amount of cinnamon is quite low," Eldredge says. So, while unlit candles aren't the most harmful, you'll still want to make sure to put the lids on them and store them in a spot your cat can't reach.

Cinnamon Sticks

"An inquisitive kitten might play with and chew on cinnamon sticks or chew on the plant if you have it in your home," Eldredge says. She suggests keeping cinnamon sticks out of reach from your cat to prevent her from chewing on anything that could be harmful.

Signs of Cinnamon Toxicity or Allergic Reaction

Cinnamon is a common spice that can pose health risks to cats depending on the form and dose. If exposed or ingested in high amounts, it could lead to cinnamon toxicity.

Signs of toxicity in cats can include:

"The likelihood of your cat becoming toxic from cinnamon exposures is low, but avoid getting powdered spice or essential oils on her," Eldredge says. "You want to avoid her licking it off and ingesting it."

She adds that repeated exposures to cinnamon could lead to allergic reactions. Signs of allergies and allergic reactions in cats can include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Hives
  • Chewing, biting, or licking at paws
  • Itchiness
  • Scabbing of the skin
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

"In general, cats aren't likely to eat a lot of cinnamon spice in the powdered form," Eldredge says. "However, if you spill some, your cat might walk through and ingest some while licking her feet clean. The same is true of essential oils—if you dropped some and it got on your cat's hair, or she walked through a spill, she might ingest a fair amount."

In these cases, Eldredge recommends bathing your cat to wash it off her skin and prevent her from ingesting it.

What To Do If Your Cat Eats Cinnamon

If you suspect your cat has gotten into cinnamon, Eldredge says to contact your veterinarian.

"Care is symptomatic, but your vet may recommend a bath to remove any residue, blood work to monitor her liver and clotting functions, and fluids to help dilute any cinnamon that has been consumed," Eldredge says.

If your vet is unavailable, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 to speak with an expert. (A consultation fee may apply.)

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