Is the Thyme Plant Toxic for Cats?

by Robert Boumis, Demand Media
    Many cats love to eat houseplants.

    Many cats love to eat houseplants.

    Cats are notorious for getting into and chewing on any plants they can get their paws on. And many common houseplants are dangerous to cats. So it's important to triple-check plants you bring home are OK for cats. Thyme, an herb, is a plant that's safe for cats.

    Generally Safe

    The FDA classifies thyme as "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS. People often grow this herb as a seasoning and for its alleged benefits as an herbal remedy. Unlike many herbs, thyme is safe for both humans and cats. In fact, small amounts of thyme can actually help your furry little buddy with digestion. Most cats have no problem whatsoever with thyme.

    Possible Benefits

    Thyme has many alleged health benefits for both people and pets. The active ingredient in thyme oil, thymol, has demonstrated anti-helmenthic properties. This means that, under a veterinarian's supervision, thyme oil can help treat certain worm parasites. It also allegedly improves a cat's digestive health and helps with hairballs. For digestive health, just let your cat nibble on the plant itself. For thyme oil, consult a vet.

    Growing Thyme for Your Cat

    To grow thyme for your cats, you'll just need a small flat planter, a sunny window and some soil. Make sure you use sterilized soil; soil from outside can contain chemicals and parasites. Place the plants on a sunny windowsill. Soak the soil completely, then allow it to completely dry before completely soaking the soil again. You can trim it regularly (if your cat doesn't beat you to it), as it will try to grow to 12 inches.

    Possible Dangers

    There are a few possible problems with thyme consumption in cats. Concentrated thyme oil can contain enough thymol to be dangerous to a cat, so you should give your cat thyme oil only under the supervision of a veterinarian. You should also talk to your vet if your cat is on any kind of medications that affect the central nervous system, since thymol, even in the doses found in regular thyme, can be a problem. You should also make sure that your thyme isn't sprayed with any herbicides or pesticides.

    About the Author

    Robert Boumis is a professional writer whose short stories have received five honorable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest and placed on the shortlist for the Aeon Award. He completed his B.S. in biology from Northern Arizona University and works at and attends graduate school at the University of Arizona. His stories appear in "Neo-Opsis" and "Sci-Fi Short Story Magazine."

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