Chives or Allium schoenoprasum is an edible perennial herb that belongs to the genus Allium which also has leek, shallot, garlic, scallion, onion, and chinese onions.
They have a clustered elongated narrow leaves that grow from their small bulbs and they can be propagated using their seeds or their bulbs.
As a culinary herb, its leaves or scapes and immature bugs are used while fresh or dried in different dishes including soups, fish, eggs, vegetables, meat, potatoes, and so on. Also, its flowers are often eaten with salad.
Besides culinary use, these plants are also used for ornamental purposes as well as an insect repellant in gardens.
Are chives toxic to cats
Yes. Chives are toxic or poisonous to cats just like the rest of the onion family member including leeks, garlic, scallions, chinese onions, and so on. Their toxicity is considered mild to moderate depending on the amount ingested.
Although cats are unlikely to eat fresh chives leaves, flowers or bulbs, their use in some cooking especially concentrated soups may cause toxicity.
On average, chives weighting 0.5% of your cat’s body weight can cause toxicity. In fact, the amount in some foods such as pizza, chinese foods, tomato source, sour cream chive bread, and so on can cause toxicity.
According to Pet Poisons Helpline when ingested to toxic levels, they “can cause damage to the red blood cells (making them more likely to rupture) leading to anemia.” This occurs since these herbs have n-propyl disulfide (thiosulphate).
Thiosulphate is known to cause oxidative red blood cell damage as there will be excessive amounts of oxidants that antioxidants in red blood cells cannot detoxify.
As the red blood cells get damaged, their ability to carry oxygen also diminishes leading to anemia symptoms.
Secondly, as VCA Hospitals notes, chives can “relax heart muscles and dilate blood vessels causing circulatory problems and low blood pressure.” This will further worsen oxygen delivery to cells.
Finally, it has been observed that some cat breeds are much more susceptible to this poisoning that others.
If your kitty ingests a lot of chives, some of the commonly expected symptoms include the following:
- Hypersalivation or drooling
- Mouth irritation
- Abdominal discomfort – GI inflammation or gastroenteritis
- Heinz and hemolytic anemia signs such as pale gums, lethargy, skin discoloration, weakness, exercise intolerance, collapse, blood in urine, panting, and increase heart rate.
- Ataxia or wobbly movements
The above symptoms may be noted after several days and their severity will be worse on small cat breeds compared to larger ones or dogs.
Besides your vet asking on whether you saw your kitty eat chives, laboratory tests, microscopic red blood cells observation, and urinalysis will help in diagnosis.
If your cat ate chives recently, induced vomiting will be considered to get rid of any remains in the gastrointestinal tract. Also, activated charcoal may also be used for the same purpose.
Severe cases will require IV fluids, medicines for GI symptoms, oxygen therapy, and blood transfusion in case of anemia.
Limit access to any of the onion family members using fences, safely dispose of any remains, avoid foods with this culinary herb and safely store any spices or herbs that are harmful to cats.
Since chives are not safe for cats, always stop these pets from eating them and do not allow them to have foods that have any of the onion family plant members.