Can I Give My Cat Cinnamon?
When our hearts demand sugar and salt, our brains offer a compromise that is equally delicious and far healthier: spices. All over the world, people use spices to add powerful flavor to curries, pastas, desserts, dips, spreads, baked goods, and even fresh, raw fruit. There are a wide variety of spices to cater to a wide variety of tastes, but if you’re feeling festive and looking to indulge your sweet tooth, there’s no better spice than cinnamon. It has become a key ingredient in many festive holiday recipes, and in countless dishes we like to prepare throughout the year.
Because we put it in everything from pastries and smoothies to meatballs and popcorn, our families are exposed to this sweet spice many times throughout the year. For the human members of our family, this is great—after all, we’ve heard of countless studies and anecdotes that suggest that cinnamon is great four our health—but what about our four-legged family members? Can cats have foods prepared with cinnamon?
The answer is yes, cats can eat cinnamon in moderation. This food is not toxic to dogs or cats, so if your cat ends up eating something you made which contains cinnamon, there is no need to rush them to the vet’s office. Do, however, take note of the word “moderation.” If your cat eats or inhales a large amount of cinnamon, they may begin to experience health problems.
There are not many studies on the effects of cinnamon on feline health, but there have been many studies on humans and other animals. Based on common biological processes, we may be able to extrapolate these results to cats.
One of cinnamon’s biggest claims to fame is its high levels of anti-aging, cancer-fighting antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful chemicals that destroy harmful free radicals, which are highly charged particles thought to be responsible for the cell damage that eventually results in many of our common ailments. Free radicals have been implicated in everything from cancer and heart disease to the physical and mental decline associated with normal aging. By giving your cat higher levels of antioxidants, you can lower the number of free radicals in their body and reduce the risk of cell damage.
Cinnamon is also praised for its ability to combat diabetes and insulin resistance by improving insulin sensitivity. More and more people (and cats!) are becoming resistant to the effects of insulin, one of the most important hormones involved in processing the energy taken from food. Cinnamon boosts the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps maintain blood sugar and combat diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This can be especially important for overweight or obese cats, who are more likely to suffer from insulin resistance.
The benefits for overweight or obese cats go beyond diabetes prevention: cinnamon has also been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease in countless animal studies. Cinnamon is also thought to reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, which can protect the health of your cat’s heart in the long term.
Things to Keep in MindSome studies suggest that this delicious spice also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. While the inflammatory response serves an important purpose in times of infection or injury, if it becomes chronic, it can increase your cat’s risk of a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Cinnamon may alleviate the symptoms of inflammatory illnesses like arthritis. Arthritic cats who regularly consume anti-inflammatory foods like cinnamon may experience reduced pain and improved mobility—though it is important to note that no spice will be able to replace quality veterinary care!
When it comes to spices, moderation is important. Eating too much cinnamon can cause nausea, vomiting diarrhea, liver disease, irregular heartbeat, and a sharp drop in blood sugar that can be fatal. In addition, pet owners should make sure that their cat does not inhale any amount of cinnamon. This spice is very hard on lung tissue, so if you suspect your cat has inhaled cinnamon and they begin coughing, choking, or wheezing, take them to see the veterinarian. To avoid the risk of inhalation, mix a pinch of cinnamon into some other food before serving.
In conclusion, cinnamon is generally recognized as a safe spice for cats to consume in moderation. It is nontoxic, low in fat and calories, and high in antioxidants which may help protect your cat’s health in the long term. If you decide to feed your cat cinnamon, remember that less is more—your cat is far smaller than you, so they do not need nearly as much of this spice to reap the benefits. Feel free to mix a pinch of cinnamon into their food from time to time, but resist the urge to add brown sugar to the mix. Use the spice as a healthy alternative to processed sugar!