Licorice spelled as liquorice is a perennial herb and spice in the family Fabaceae, the pea family. Botanically, it is known as Glycyrrhiza glabra but has other common names including sweet root, Reglissa, black sugar, Gan-cao, Liquirizia, and sweet wood among others.
Its flavor closely resembles that of anise and its leaves and roots are used in flavoring food, confectionaries, tobacco and in herbal teas. It is also an ingredient in cough syrups, lozenges, and elixirs besides its folk medicinal significance.
Finally, you need to distinguish between licorice the herb and black licorice which is a confectionary made using the extract from this plant’s root with other ingredients including sugar, and binding agents.
Other confectionaries include black licorice cats (Limburgse Katjes) and Gustaf’s Dutch licorice cats whose names are from the fact that they have a feline shape.
Can cats eat licorice root or leaves?
There is no consensus the safety of this herb or spice with some noting that it is safe and helpful while others seem to consider it as unsafe.
For instance, according to Dr. Karen Becker, “many cats like the taste of licorice, this herb can be used as a natural anti-inflammatory or cortisone to soothe allergies, endocrine and digestive issues, and respiratory problems.”
This root has anti-inflammatory properties that make it good for cats with arthritis. It will also promote liver detoxification.
Its other properties include being a laxative, diuretic, expectorant, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antifungal among many other things.
While it seems to be having numerous benefits, it has glycyrrhizin which lowers potassium level and can lead to low potassium in the blood.
Furthermore, excessive amounts can lead to a rise in blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms or interact with other medicines. It can cause weight gain, weakness, breath shortness, paralysis, renal failure and so on in human beings.
Can cats eat black liquorice
No. We do not recommend confectionary is flavored with Glycyrrhiza glabra extract. A small amount may help with sore throats and stomach upsets. However, since it also has glycyrrhizin, excessive amounts can lead to increased blood sugar.
Also, avoid any other candy that has this herb’s extract including Limburgse Katjes, Katjes Kinder, among many other brands available.
This confectionery is formed to resemble liquorice, but it is made from other main flavorings such as raspberry, cherry, cinnamon, strawberry, mango, apple, blackcurrant, watermelon and so on and rarely licorice extract.
Do not give it to your cat as it is unhealthy being sugary. Sugary foods may increase obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay risks.
Furthermore, these pets are not able to digest a lot of carbohydrates being strict carnivores and excessive sugar may result in stomach upsets.
While it has many benefits, Glycyrrhiza glabra root and leaves have some risks associated with excessive intake. Do not give it to your kitties.
In case your kitty ingests a lot of this herb or its candies, talk to your vet for further diagnosis and treatment if necessary, to avoid poisoning.