Lemongrass is a common name for the genus Cymbopogon plant belonging to the family Gramineae, Poaceae or grass family. It has over 50 different species native to tropics and subtropics especially in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Its other common names include silky heads or oily heads as well as barbed wire, fever, citronella, Malabar or Cochin grass. Note that some of these names may refer to a specific species.
On uses, some species are cultivated for culinary, medicinal uses and for lemon essential oil especially citronella oil for making soap and candles as well as in aromatherapy and as insect repellants.
Finally, it is the Cymbopogon citratus that is mainly used in culinary as an herb, in perfume while its tea is taken in Brazil to deal with anxiety.
Can cats eat lemongrass?
No. Cats should not eat lemongrass including Cymbopogon citratus or oil grass. It is toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses note ASPCA.
Its toxicity arises from both the cyanogenic glycosides and essential oil which will cause stomach upsets in your feline friend. These pets do not have the necessary enzymes to breakdown these chemicals.
However, according to Apartmenttherapy.com, cats love lemongrass and they may nibble it. It may give them an effect like that of catnip. A little nibling should not worry you since the amount of essential oil and cyanogenic glycosides are low.
If your kitty nibbles this plant excessively, you need to find out why it happens. It may be part of pica behavior, a healthy or a nutritional problem including anemia and hyperthyroidism.
Is lemongrass oil safe for cats
No. It lemongrass oil is not safe for cats. Why? It has a high concentration the essential oil as well as other potentially toxic compounds, making it harmful.
A hydrosol or distilled form will be safer but still not good for these pets. This increases the possibility of various toxicity symptoms.
Besides stomach upsets, your kitties may have symptoms such as a swollen abdomen, fever, anorexia, shock, difficulties in passing stool and vomiting.
Very large amounts may cause urine leakage, inability to defecate, chronic cystitis, and weakness of their hind legs.
In case of poisoning, visit your vet for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment will include supportive care including IV fluids and any other your veterinarian may find essential depending on the level of toxicity.
Lemongrass including its essential oil is not safe for cats. Ensure your kitties do not nibble this plant if you have it in your garden or pot or have the essential oil.
Instead, go for kitty-safe and friendly plants such as catnip, alfalfa, wheatgrass sprouts, among others.
Finally, since their digestive system is still very vulnerable, ensure your kittens never eat it.