I’m sure that there is a tendency for cat caregivers to give their cat companion a little treat of cooked turkey at Christmas. Is there a problem with this? Probably not. Straight, cooked turkey without bones in it and without any seasoning has got to be okay. Therefore, we are looking at the kind of seasoning you apply to a cooked turkey to give it more flavour. So, what kind of seasoning do you use? And what about the stuffing?
I am positively not a cook but my research indicates that you can stuff a small bundle of mixed herbs into the turkey cavity; thyme, sage, parsley and a bit of rosemary are a good combination I’m told. I guess you might rub some of this seasoning on the outside of the turkey.
Other possible seasonings might contain garlic, onion, chives, shallots, leeks or scallions. And there’s also the possibility that a cook might include lemongrass, tarragon, oregano, and marjoram in the dish. That’s quite a long list of seasonings. Are some of them toxic to cats?
I have to go through them one by one:
Thyme is non-toxic to cats according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Parsley is said to be toxic to animals and humans alike. Cats are not an exception. It contains a toxic compound called furanocoumarin. It can be dangerous in excessive amounts. And there’s the key to parsley. It is not, it seems to me, toxic to humans or animals in small amounts. Clearly not otherwise it would not be a popular seasoning. In fact, they say that parsley can do your dog more good than harm in small amounts. I can’t see a cat eating parsley on its own and I would have thought that the amount of parsley seasoning on/in a turkey is quite small and therefore, on the face of it, you can’t say that it is dangerous to cats at Christmas.
Sage is safe for cats to eat according to the ASPCA.
Rosemary is considered not to be toxic to pets. It does contain volatile oils which in large quantities can upset the nervous system but that would appear to be inapplicable in this instance.
Garlic and onions and other plants of the Allium species in either fresh, dried or powdered form are toxic to dogs and cats. Garlic is more toxic than onions. 1 g per 5 pounds of bodyweight is toxic.
Chives are part of the Allium family and are also toxic to dogs and cats but they have got to eat a single large serving or repeatedly nibble on small amounts. That would also seem to be inapplicable in this instance. Therefore, I would deem chives to not be a hazard to cats are Christmas but it’s up to each individual cat owner to make their own decisions.
Shallots, onions, garlic and scallions can cause damage to your cat’s red blood cells and lead to anaemia. They are only poisonous it seems to me when eaten in large quantities. However, exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic can also be toxic.
Leeks are part of the same Allium family and therefore the same concerns arise as for onions and chives.
Lemongrass is not harmful to cats provided they nibble it in moderation. However, when it is made into an essential oil lemongrass is potentially deadly to a cat. However, as a seasoning for the turkey it cannot be said to be harmful.
Tarragon is toxic to cats, dogs and horses. Clinical signs are mild vomiting and diarrhoea according to ASPCA animal poison control.
Oregano is toxic to cats according to my research using Google. It is high in both phenols and terpenoids. Cats cannot properly digest these substances due to a lack of glycosyltransferase digestive enzymes in the liver.
Marjoram contains toxins which can be dangerous to many animals including cats. The poisoning is not life-threatening normally. There may be vomiting and diarrhoea. The substance contains a large quantity of essential oils and other irritants. Therefore, it is unsuitable as seasoning on a turkey but, this must, once again, be about quantities. I sense that this seasoning is not a hazard to cats at Christmas but there is a potential for mild poisoning and a companion animal by this product.
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