Parsley is a popular herb that is used to flavor a wide variety of human dishes. Not only does it add a tasty touch to food, but it also has some surprising health benefits. But should your cat partake in parsley as part of their regular meal?
While parsley in small quantities is ok for your feline friend to eat, it should be avoided in large amounts and should not be fed frequently, even in small amounts.
Should Cats Eat Parsley?
When it comes to parsley, a little goes a long way. Parsley consumed in high amounts can be toxic to your feline friend. So, if you’re looking to boost their antioxidant levels or freshen their breath, keep it small and infrequent. It’s also important to know that different types of parsley have different toxicity levels. Generally speaking, any parsley you buy in the grocery store is fine, but if you’re prone to gathering your own, it’s spring parsley that can be more detrimental.
Parsley contains furanocoumarins which can cause photosensitization, which is an oversensitivity to sunlight. While it’s not quite the same as a sunburn, the effects are similar. When exposed to sunlight, cats with photosensitization will experience a chemical burn due to reactions within their skin. It is quite painful and can lead to severe damage and even death if severe enough and left untreated.
Let’s keep in mind that a cat would have to graze pretty readily on parsley to eat an amount that can cause photosensitization, but the risk is still there regardless.
How to Feed Parsley to Your Cat
Again, moderation is key when it comes to parsley and your cat. If you want to use it as a nutritional boost for your feline friend, be sure to use small amounts and don’t make it an everyday addition.
You may find parsley as an ingredient in commercial cat foods. It’s there to provide those nutrients as well as enhance the flavor and freshen breath. You’ll also notice that there isn’t much of it in there. That’s to ensure that the cat food is safe and won’t cause any detrimental effects.
A safer way to enhance your cat’s diet with parsley is through parsley water. This can be made by adding a couple of pinches of parsley to one cup of boiling water, letting it cool, and then draining off the water. You can give this to your kitty every day as an antioxidant supplement or to boost their vitamin A and K for overall health.
If you have parsley growing in your herb garden and an overly curious cat, you may want to find a way to limit your cat’s access to the plant to keep them safe. This is only if your cat likes to sample things from your garden, and there’s a possibility they might consume more than they should.
What Are the Health Benefits of Parsley?
Humans have long used parsley as a natural spice. It is native to the Mediterranean region, so it’s no surprise that meats and pasta from this region often contain some parsley. But along with that flavor, parsley also supplies the body with quite a list of benefits.
- Antioxidants: Parsley is chock full of antioxidants, including flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamin C. These antioxidants are essential to prevent and repair damage at the cellular level, helping to boost the immune system and help the body age healthily.
- Vitamins: Along with vitamin C, parsley also contains vitamins A, K, and folate. These are important for bone health, normal blood clotting, immune function, and vision.
- Cancer-Fighting: hose antioxidants and other nutrients present in parsley can help decrease the risk of certain cancers, specifically colon cancer.
- Antibacterial: Parsley extract has some antimicrobial properties that help prevent the growth of some bacteria, yeasts, and molds. It could play a role in future homeopathic remedies.
- Low Fat: A couple of things that parsley is not high in is fat and calories. Instead, parsley contains lots of fiber to help you feel full longer and regulate your digestive system without adding unwanted weight.
- Freshens Breath: If you’re looking for a natural way to freshen your cat’s breath with no toothbrush required, parsley may do the trick.
Parsley is a popular plant for both chefs and gardeners alike. It provides flavor and many health benefits to the food that we eat. It can do the same for your cat if given in moderation. Care should be taken to limit the amount of parsley that your cat consumes by feeding only small amounts infrequently or by giving your cat parsley water instead.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.