Can Cats Eat Fennel?
People seem to either love or hate fennel. The aromatic and flavorful plant and its seeds (as in oregano or cilantro) impart a vaguely licorice-like taste to the foods it’s cooked with.
What about your cat? Would fennel be something they might enjoy? Could fennel even be a healthy addition to you cat’s diet?
As you will see, fennel can make a fun and interesting treat for your kitty. At the same time, fennel isn’t as healthy for cats as it is for people.
In this article, the following will be covered:
- Cats and Fennel, What You Need to Know
- Can Cats Eat Fennel?
- Can Kittens Eat Fennel?
- Benefits/Drawbacks to Cats Eating Fennel
- Healthy Alternatives to Fennel
Cats and Fennel, What You Need to Know
Fennel is a flowering plant, closely related to parsley and carrots. With a pale bulb and long green stalks, this plant has spread from the shores of the Mediterranean and now grows throughout the world.
The entire fennel plant, including the bulb, stalk, leaves, and seeds, is edible. Fennel adds flavor to other foods and fennel seed is particularly well known as the flavoring in Italian sausage.
Both today and in ancient times, people have used fennel in natural remedies. Fennel tea is reputed to aid with digestion and reduce gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.
Fennel is considered healthy for people as it is a rich source of many nutrients. An excellent source of vitamin C, fennel also contains a good amount of potassium, molybdenum, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and folate.
Can Cats Eat Fennel?
Cats can eat fennel. Fennel is considered non-toxic to cats, though the ASPCA cautions it should only be consumed in small quantities.
There’s a good chance your cat won’t be too interested in eating fennel. In fact, they may be more likely to play with it, as you can see from this video:
While Penny does seem to love her some fennel, she seems more interested in rubbing her face on it than eating it. This is likely due to her amazing sense of smell responding to the aromatic qualities of fennel.
Can Kittens Eat Fennel?
Kittens tend to be more susceptible to things than adult cats because they are tiny and have not yet fully developed. Though rare, any contaminants in fennel are more than likely to affect a kitten than an adult cat.
Similarly, kittens are more sensitive to the laxative effects from the fiber in fennel. This could cause diarrhea, possibly leading to dehydration and a trip to the vet.
Instead of fennel, why not try giving your kitten a healthy kitten food, like Blue Wilderness kitten food? This type of food has everything your kitten needs to grow up big and strong without anything that could cause harm.
Benefits/Drawbacks to Cats Eating Fennel
Even though cats can eat fennel, is fennel good for cats?
For people, “health foods,” supply nutrients that are essential for our well-being. More often than not, however, cats don’t require the same dietary sources of specific nutrients that people rely on.
For example, all mammals need sufficient vitamin C to survive, and most manufacture it in their livers. Humans don’t produce enough vitamin C in their livers, so they must eat vitamin C-rich foods.
Cats, on the other hand, make plenty of vitamin C in their own livers, so they don’t need to eat fennel to get enough vitamin C. It won’t hurt a cat to get a little extra of these water soluble vitamins; they just don’t need it.
Similarly, fennel contains quite a bit of fiber, and cats don’t need fiber in their diet. In fact, food containing fiber can have a laxative effect on cats.
The main thing to remember is that cats are obligate carnivores, meaning all they really need to eat is meat. Since cats derive the vast majority of their nutrition from eating meat, there just isn’t a huge health benefit for your cat to eat fennel.
Healthy Alternatives to Fennel
Fennel can be a fun and healthy treat for your kitty and an interesting change of pace from their normal food. Even so, there are many healthy alternatives to feeding your cat fennel.
If you really want your cat to have vegetables in their diet, why not try a cat food that has been formulated to meet the feline’s specific nutritional needs?
Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Natural Dry Cat Food contains a variety of fruits and vegetables along with venison and salmon, so your cat can eat a healthy and balanced diet.
So, Can Cats Eat Fennel?
Cats are fine to have a small amount of fennel from time to time. Just make sure you wash the fennel thoroughly before giving it to your cat.
As long as your cat’s diet is primarily well-balanced cat foods like those listed above, a little variety can be a fun way to spice up your cat’s life!
If you have any questions or would like to share a story about your cat and fennel, please tell us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!