Can Cats Eat Cinnamon? What Happens If Your Cat Is Exposed to Cinnamon?

Can Cats Eat Cinnamon

Cinnamon is almost everywhere – from the food that we eat, air that we breathe, and even oil that soothes our pains away.

And we’re not surprised considering its culinary significance, aromatic use, and health benefits for us humans. However, as a pet owner, should we be worried about our feline buddies? Can cats eat cinnamon?

Also, wouldn’t they be affected by the cinnamon essential oil that we use with our diffuser? Can we continue to grow our indoor plant collection that includes a cinnamon tree? Is it safe to put some household ornaments or potpourri that are infused and/or made with cinnamon powder?

Being a pet parent is not easy, but as a genuine cat lover, all of the efforts and sacrifices for the welfare of our feline companions are worth it. It’s part of our responsibility to give them a safe environment, healthy diet, regular exercise, and their daily dose of love and affection.

And seeking answers to important questions that may affect their health should be among our utmost priorities. The point in knowing the things that may harm our pets is not in totally eradicating these inside our household.

We can still live with our cat harmoniously without the need to remove something that we love or we’ve been used to having around us.

If cinnamon compounds are bad for cats, we don’t have to get rid of cinnamon in our lives. But, are cinnamon sticks and other related products toxic to cats? If so, how can exposure to cinnamon affect them? In what way could they be harmed by cinnamon?

By knowing all of these things we can find a way to coexist with our cats without unknowingly causing them harm because of what we use and keep inside our household.

Also Read: Foods That Are Toxic for Cats

Can Cats Eat Cinnamon? Is It Safe?

Cinnamon, a native spice from Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, and Indonesia, is known for its sweet and strong aromatic flavor. It is a staple ingredient in a lot of cuisines, and sweet goodies.

No doubt, there is a high demand for it especially during the holidays together with other aromatic ingredients like nutmeg, pumpkin, and ginger.

While the ASPCA has not labeled cinnamon (i.e. cinnamon oil, powdered cinnamon, sticks) as toxic to cats, we can’t really be complacent and all-trusting as to give our feline buddies all the cinnamon that they want.

Although there is no official declaration that you can’t feed your cats cinnamon, you still need to control your cat’s exposure to cinnamon spice as minimal as possible.

Exposure to a large amount of cinnamon can cause several health issues in cats such as a decreased blood sugar, vomiting, diarrhea, and a lot more.

And as mentioned earlier, cinnamon may come in several forms – sticks, powder, oils, and even trees. The symptoms that your cat may experience may also vary depending on how he was exposed. Basically, there is no version of cinnamon that is safe for cats.

Inhaling, ingesting, applying, or massaging cinnamon in any way can cause some dangers to your cat. Hence, just to be safe, regardless of your cat’s age, breed, size, and overall health condition, he should stay away from cinnamon as much as possible.

After all, whatever benefits your cat may get from cinnamon can also be offered by other safer and healthier alternatives. 

And besides, cats don’t like cinnamon at all. In fact, this spice is used as a cat deterrent because of its strong smell that tends to shoo cats away.

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Why Is Cinnamon Bad for Cats?

Cinnamon is bad for cats because it can lead to a multitude of health issues. To make it worse, cats can be exposed to this spice in three major ways – by inhalation, ingestion, and topical application (or when it’s rubbed on your cat’s skin and fur).

Also, cinnamon contains a compound called Coumadin, which the cat’s digestive system can’t break down. The eventual buildup of this substance inside the body can cause liver failure and other complications.

Fortunately, the type of cinnamon that is commonly found in the household has a low concentration of coumarin. Nevertheless, exposing your cat to cinnamon is not something that you would want to gamble on.

What Happens If Your Cat Is Exposed to Cinnamon?

As mentioned earlier, your cat can be exposed to cinnamon in three major ways. Now, let’s talk about the things that your cat may experience if he eats, inhales, or gets in touch with cinnamon.

Ingestion

Cinnamon is a popular ingredient in human foods, and it is also commonly seen in the garden or inside the house as an ornamental plant. As such, there is a high chance that your cat may be exposed to cinnamon through ingestion or by eating dishes that contain cinnamon.

And since cats lack the enzymes needed to break down coumarin inside their body, consuming a large amount of cinnamon may cause them to experience the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Decreased blood sugar
  • Thinning of blood
  • Liver failure and other types of organ failure

Depending on the ingested amount, your cat may also experience cinnamon toxicity, which is a toxic reaction to cinnamon exposure.  Most pets show some symptoms after ingesting more than 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

The same severity of symptoms to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder may be experienced with a lesser amount of essential oils since oils have a higher concentration of cinnamon than the powdered forms.

If you are planning to use cinnamon for its anti-diabetic properties or to lower your cat’s blood pressure in conjunction with his medications, it’s best to contact your veterinarian first. He may recommend the best way to incorporate cinnamon in your cat’s daily menu without compromising his health and safety.

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Inhalation

Some cats like the smell of cinnamon, while some don’t. That is why cinnamon is still commonly used as a cat deterrent by some homeowners, especially those individuals who want to ward off stray cats from their garden.

However, even if cats don’t like cinnamon, they may still inhale it by accident. The most common ways in which cats could accidentally inhale cinnamon are through spilled powdered cinnamon, and cinnamon essential oil vapors or air fresheners.

Hence, if you have a diffuser at home with your cats, make sure not to diffuse cinnamon essential oils in locations where your cat may sneak in. If your cat inhales cinnamon, the vapor or powder may trigger an allergic reaction. Watch out for the following symptoms that could indicate that your cat is experiencing allergic reactions to cinnamon:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Sneezing, and other respiratory issues

Exposure to the Skin, Fur, and Oral Cavity

In its purest form, cinnamon can trigger allergies to your cat’s skin and fur, and it may also irritate his mouth. Not all cats exhibit symptoms, but it’s definitely not worth the risk of exposing your cat to cinnamon.

This is especially true with cinnamon essential oils that contain a higher or more concentrated amount of cinnamon compounds. 

Keep an eye on the following symptoms if you suspect that your cat has been exposed to cinnamon:

  • Rashes
  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Obsessive pawing or scratching
  • Burns
  • Irritation
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Common Causes of Cinnamon Toxicity in Cats

Cinnamon toxicity is unlikely to happen if your cat is only exposed to powdered cinnamon that is commonly found inside the kitchen. As mentioned earlier, it would take at least one teaspoon of cinnamon powder before your cat may show some symptoms.

However, with the proliferation of cinnamon essential oils in the market, it’s now easier for cats to be exposed to a higher concentration of cinnamon, which can be harmful to them.

Cats can accidentally be exposed to cinnamon in the following ways:

  • Chewing on a cinnamon tree, or a cinnamon stick
  • Eating human food with cinnamon powder
  • Chewing or licking on cinnamon-infused household ornaments or potpourri
  • The use of cinnamon oil in a diffuser
  • From touching or petting your cat after putting cinnamon oil in your hands

Intentional exposure of cats to cinnamon because of the following circumstances:

  • People sometimes use cinnamon as a cat deterrent, and in this way, cats can be exposed to an excessive amount of cinnamon.

Cinnamon can be used as a natural remedy for diabetes since it lowers the blood sugar level. And with this, some cat owners, without knowing the harmful effects of cinnamon on their cats, may intentionally dose them with huge amounts of cinnamon in an attempt to treat feline diabetes. 

What to Do If Your Cat Has Been Exposed to Cinnamon?

Depending on the severity of your cat’s exposure and his body’s response, your cat may or may not show signs of toxicity. Nevertheless, you should continue to observe him and remove any sign of cinnamon in your environment to prevent a repeat exposure.

Before going to your local vet, you may apply some immediate actions depending on the symptoms experienced by your cat.

For allergic reactions, simply wash the affected area with mild detergent and water. If your cat’s eyes were affected, you have to irrigate the eyes with running water to get rid of the irritating substance. You should also avoid giving steroids to your cat during an allergic reaction to cinnamon as it can just worsen his rashes.

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In the case of cinnamon toxicity, treatment usually consists of supportive care until the toxin has been totally eradicated from your cat’s system. Supportive treatment includes medical and nursing interventions to relieve the symptoms experienced by your cat.

Vitamin K is used as an antidote for coumarin toxicity where cats are exposed to high levels of coumarin, which is a common substance in cinnamon. Vitamin K therapy is particularly useful if a cat is already hemorrhaging from the thinning of his blood due to Coumadin poisoning.

If your cat is in respiratory distress due to ingestion or inhalation of cinnamon, airway management, and oxygen therapy will be implemented as needed.

If there’s organ damage, the vet will provide any therapeutic measures available to restore the organ and aid with your cat’s full recovery.  

Bonus Recipes

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Pumpkin Spice Soft Treats

Carrie Miller
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 35 pcs
Calories 26 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Garbanzo flour
  • 1/4 cup Coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin⁠ canned
  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil melted
  • 1 tbsp Blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda⁠
  • 1/2 tsp Pumpkin spice without nutmeg

Pumpkin Spice

  • 2 tbsp Cinnamon ground
  • 1 tbsp Ginger ground
  • 1 tsp Cloves ground
  • 1 tsp Allspice ground

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or non-stick baking mat. Whisk together pumpkin spice ingredients; store in airtight container.
  • In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix thoroughly (dough will be thick and sticky). Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Let rest 5 minutes.
  • Cover countertop with wax paper or silicone baking mat⁠. Unwrap dough; knead a few times. Garbanzo flour is a little sticky but will smooth out as you work it.
  • Roll dough into a rope about 1” thick.
  • Using butter knife, cut rope into desired treat width. Arrange on prepared cookie sheet.
  • Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch.
  • Transfer to wire rack. Let cool. Transfer to airtight container; store in refrigerator to maintain softness.

Notes

These treats are soft and will last 2-3 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. If your pet (dog or cat) has healthy teeth, there’s no reason you can’t give him a frozen cookie.
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Homemade Sweet Potato Cinnamon Treats

Two Little Cavaliers
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1 1/4 cups Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • A bit of catnip

Instructions
 

  • Place the peeled and diced sweet potato in a pot and submerge with cold water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the pieces have softened.
  • Strain the the sweet potatoes, allow to cool, then mash.
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the mashed sweet potato, egg, vegetable oil, and milk. Whisk well to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, catnip and cinnamon.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture to the sweet potato mixture, mixing to incorporate.
  • Grease a baking pan with pan spray. Spoon small amounts of the mixture onto the greased baking pan, creating the “pillows.”
  • Bake at 350°F for 25-35 minutes, or until the pillows have puffed slightly and begin to brown.
  • Allow to cool before serving to your pet.

Notes

You can also add Salmon or Tuna if your kitty prefers it.
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Pumpkin Balls Recipe

Robyn Savoie

Equipment

  • Oven

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup Canned Pumpkin or Sweet Potato
  • 4 tbsp Molasses
  • 4 tbsp Water
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda

Optional Add Ins:

  • 1/4 cup Dried Cranberries Chopped
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 cup Carob Chips, Brown or White (Yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup Roasted Pumpkin Seed Chopped

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix pumpkin, molasses, olive oil and water together in a bowl.
  • Add the rice flour, baking soda, and baking powder and to the mixture and stir until dough softens. Stir in one or more of the add-ins if using.
  • Scoop out small spoonful of dough and roll into balls using your hands (wet hands work best).
  • Set the balls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten with a fork.
  • Bake approximately 25 minutes or until dough is hardened.

Notes

  1. I prefer to use fresh cooked & cooled pumpkin/sweet potato. If you use canned DO NOT use the pie filling, it may contain spices that are toxic to dogs and cats.
  2. You can replace the brown rice flour with whole wheat. Rice flour is preferred, since it is easier to digest and gentle on stomachs. It also provides the same crunchy nutty flavor as whole wheat.
  3. For cat treats: Make tiny balls and press with fingers. Adjust cooking time to about 10 – 15 minutes. Or do as I would, make into 1 inch balls, press until 1/2 thick. Then using a moist knife, cut treat in 4 sections; separating each section a bit.

Is Cinnamon safe for cats?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center, cinnamon is not toxic to dogs, cats, or horses. A small amount of cinnamon—such as that found in baked goods—is not likely to cause problems for your pet.

Do cats like cinnamon?

Strong spicy aromas like pepper, curry, and cinnamon also tend to ward off cats. However, we do not recommend using cayenne pepper or other pepper flakes to keep cats out of the garden, as this could potentially harm them. Cinnamon is non-toxic to cats.

Does cinnamon make cats sick?

Although cinnamon is technically classified as non-toxic to cats, it can become toxic at certain levels-- especially if your cat is exposed to the higher concentrations typically found in essential oils.

Is cinnamon smell toxic to cats?

Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to cats. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.

  • June 15, 2021
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.