Can I Give My Cat Turmeric?
Humans have used food as medicine for thousands of years. Throughout all of recorded history, people have altered their dietary habits in the hope of preventing or treating various medical conditions—both by removing supposedly harmful foods from their diet and by adding in protective ‘superfoods’. Spices, which had great value in ancient societies, have always been some of the more popular medicinal foods all over the world. In the western world, these flavorful, often-colorful spices have experienced a surge in popularity in the last decade or so. Though this includes the familiar flavors of our childhood like cinnamon and nutmeg, the spice that has really stepped into the spotlight is turmeric.
Whether you’re looking to aid recovery between workouts or reduce your risk of chronic disease, turmeric seems to be the answer. But can it be a safe supplement for your pets, too? Can cats have turmeric?
The answer is yes, cats can consume small amounts of turmeric. Pet parents should always proceed with caution when they add medicinal foods into their cats’ diets, but there is not any evidence that the occasional dash of turmeric will cause any lasting harm. Some proponents of holistic veterinary medicine and kitty superfoods swear by turmeric to combat chronic illness and lengthen lifespan, but more research is needed before your veterinarian is likely to start prescribing turmeric.
It is also important to consider how you are feeding turmeric to your cat. Mixing a pinch of your favorite spice into your cat’s usual food is one thing, but dropping a blob of high-fat, high-calorie curry into their dish is entirely another. Turmeric itself appears to be safe for cats, but many of the dishes that use turmeric can still be unhealthy for cats. Don’t feed your cat curry under the guise of health!
Many of us have heard that turmeric is a superfood, but sometimes it’s difficult to figure out exactly what it is supposed to do for us and our pets. How can turmeric keep your cat happy and healthy?
There has not been much research on the subject. In order to explore the potential benefits that turmeric may offer your cat, we have to extrapolate from the few clinical trials that have been performed on other animals and in test tubes.
There are plenty of anecdotes praising turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties—according to some athletes and those suffering from inflammatory illnesses, turmeric reduces pain associated with inflammation. This spice’s active ingredient is a substance called curcumin, which a handful of studies have confirmed may reduce inflammation in some cases. The inflammatory response is an important part of immunity, but there is some evidence that chronic inflammation can actually cause disease.
Turmeric’s active ingredient is thought to combat chronic disease by reducing inflammation in the body. This spice has received a lot of attention for its effects on arthritis symptoms. As an antioxidant, turmeric is thought to both prevent the development of arthritis and slow the progress of existing arthritis. This is because antioxidants neutralize highly charged, very reactive particles called free radicals, which many believe cause chronic diseases by damaging the body cells they come into contact with. Antioxidants reduce free radical activity in the body, which can protect cells from damage.
Anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric are great for reducing pain, but they can also relieve the stiffness associated with arthritis. Regular supplementation with anti-inflammatory foods may improve joint mobility in the long term, which can help your cat move around the house more easily.
Things to Consider
All of this sounds great, but there is one big problem with curcumin: its bioavailability. Though this spice can have powerful effects on the body, it is not very well absorbed, which means that it can be difficult to get enough of it into the bloodstream to experience its effects. Curcumin seems to be processed and excreted extremely quickly, so it’s entirely possible that your cat may not be able to absorb enough of the spice to experience its healing properties. There is some evidence that black pepper improves this spice’s bioavailability, so you may want to combine a bit of pepper into your cat’s food.
Like many medicinal foods, turmeric can have adverse effects if given in excess. Cats who eat too much of this spice may suffer from indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea—if this happens, it may be wise to scratch the spices altogether. There is also some evidence that turmeric may increase your cat’s chances of urinary stones. If your cat has a history of bladder and kidney stones, skip the turmeric.
In conclusion, cats can eat turmeric in moderation. This spice may offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce pain, improve joint mobility, and reduce your cat’s risk of developing a wide variety of chronic diseases. If turmeric upsets your cat’s stomach, it may be better to avoid giving them any spices. Your cat is an obligate carnivore, so, though spices can be helpful, they are not necessary.