Can My Cat Drink Tea?

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Cat with tea

You’re cuddled up on the couch after a long day with your favorite hot tea, and notice your cat trying to sneak sips when you’re not looking.

So, naturally, you’re wondering, “Can cats drink tea?”

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Sarah Wooten, a small animal veterinarian in Colorado, to find out more.

Caffeine and cats

Cats should never have caffeine in any form, including caffeinated tea. Herbal teas are generally OK for cats to drink, though (more on that later).

Caffeine can cause a lot of health problems in cats, and even a little bit can make them sick.

In general, the average cat (about 8 pounds) would need to consume about 80 milligrams of caffeine to develop toxicity, which amounts to about 10 milligrams per pound of body weight,” Dr. Wooten told The Dodo.

To put that into perspective, a cup of black tea has about 50 milligrams of caffeine. Every cat is different, though, and some may show signs of toxicity even after a few sips — so it’s best to keep your cat away from caffeine altogether.

Signs of caffeine poisoning in cats

If a cat has caffeine poisoning, she might show the following signs:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Agitated behavior
  • Panting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors and heart palpitations (in severe cases)

“Symptoms can start within 30 minutes of ingestion and can go on for six to 12 hours, depending on the size and health of the cat and how much caffeine is ingested,” Dr. Wooten said.

Treatment for caffeine poisoning in cats

“If caught early enough, a vet can induce vomiting to remove the caffeine from the cat’s GI tract,” Dr. Wooten said.

If symptoms have already developed, then it’s likely that your cat will be treated with intravenous (IV) fluid therapy to flush the caffeine out of his system.

Can cats drink herbal tea?

That being said, “diluted, cooled herbal teas are great for cats, if they like them!” Dr. Wooten said.

Some herbal teas that cats can safely drink include “chamomile, echinacea, calendula, valerian (dilute and low dose), licorice root, dandelion root tea and the appropriately named cat’s claw tea,” Dr. Wooten said.

You can also brew your cat’s favorite catnip into a tea (that humans can drink, too)!

Try Celebration Herbals organic catnip tea from Amazon for $6.99

To prepare tea for your cat, steep the herbs in half the amount of time that’s called for when steeping for humans, and serve at room temperature.

Benefits of herbal tea for cats

Catnip, chamomile and valerian all provide calming benefits,” Dr. Wooten said.

Chamomile, echinacea, calendula, licorice root and dandelion have anti-inflammatory effects and help strengthen the immune system. They can also “help cats with itchy skin,” Dr. Wooten said.

Try Celestial Seasonings chamomile tea from Amazon for $24.03

Pay attention to how your cat reacts to drinking herbal tea. Though generally safe, herbal tea can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea if your cat drinks too much.

So, the next time you want to drink cat-safe herbal tea, go ahead and prepare a diluted and cooled cup for your cat!

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