can cats drink tea

Can Cats Drink Tea? Find Out The Dangers

Does your cat always try to drink your tea when you leave your cup on the side?

It is quite common for cats to try to lick, smell and even try to drink tea but it can be dangerous for cats, particularly if the tea has caffeine in.

Some types of non-caffeinated tea are okay as an occasional treat but most tea is unsafe for cats and should be avoided.

The Problem: Caffeine 

The main issue with your cat drinking tea is the caffeine many types of tea contain. Caffeine can be toxic to cats and can lead to a caffeine overdose which can be fatal.

white cat next to a mug of tea

If your cat has consumed some of a caffeinated tea, coffee, energy drink or chocolate you should contact your local vet and watch your cat closely for changes in behaviour and any of the following symptoms: 

Signs of caffeine poisoning 

  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Tremors 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Seizures 
  • Coma 

Due to the caffeine content, all black teas should be avoided. Your cat must get immediate veterinary attention if you notice any of these symptoms.

Ask a Vet

If your cat is showing any signs of caffeine poisoning we recommend you speak with a vet ASAP.

JustAnswer allows you to talk in real-time to veterinary experts for a small fee.

Treatment needs to be given quickly as, if left untreated, caffeine poisoning can escalate into seizures, dehydration and a coma.

Remember that cats are much smaller than we are so a small amount of caffeine to us can have a substantial effect on them. 

What About Herbal Tea?

Herbal teas are often less dangerous for your cat but overall tea is better avoided as some herbs can also be toxic to your cat.

Generally, highly diluted chamomile tea and highly diluted peppermint tea can be safe for cats. Any tea you give to your cat should be offered at room temperature. 

cat relaxing in bed with a coffee

Chamomile tea is high in antioxidants which may play a role in helping reduce skin irritations and treat inflammation. It can also be a good option if you want to help calm your cat’s anxiety and treat insomnia.

Although, if your cat is experiencing any of the above health issues it is always better to take them to the vet as proper medication can be offered to clear up the problems more effectively. 

Check the Ingredients 

When you are checking if a type of tea is suitable for your cat, always check the ingredients of the specific tea type and brand you have as some can contain strong oils and flavours that can give your cat an upset stomach.

It is best to steer clear of citrus (citrus actually works very well as a cat repellent so it is no surprise they don’t like it!), cherries or grapes and anything with strong essential oils. If you are unsure, consider talking to your vet about which herbs are safe for cats and which should be avoided.

Don’t give tea of any kind to your cat if she is pregnant or lactating as this can cause problems with the kittens. 

Beware of Teabags 

If you do want to offer your cat a highly diluted tea such as chamomile tea, always make sure you take the teabag out and dispose of it so your cat cannot get to it.

Teabags are dangerous as they are a choking hazard and certain tea bags can contain significant amounts of caffeine.

Always store teabags well out of reach as your cat may be enticed by the smell and try to eat it which can have fatal consequences.  

cat sniffing a cup of tea

Do Cats Even Like Tea? 

Cats tend to be very interested in tea but if you make some diluted tea especially for them you may find your cat isn’t as willing to enjoy the tea as you first thought.

Some cats will lap up the tea enthusiastically while others may take some time to build up the confidence to try a small amount of the tea. Many cats are drawn to tea because of the natural and soothing smell. 

Every cat is different and their reactions to tea will vary. If your cat does enjoy drinking tea it is very important that you only offer them tea as a very special treat. It is not the kind of thing they should have often as this can lead to health problems. 

What Is Good for Us Is Not Always Good for Cats 

Tea is very good for us but humans and cats are very different. The parts of tea that are beneficial for us can be toxic for cats so although it is tempting to share our favourite drinks with our furry friends, it is better not to.

Some of the oils that are sometimes seen in tea but should not be offered to cats include: 

  • Cinnamon oil 
  • Clove oil 
  • Lavender oil 
  • Peppermint oil
  • Thyme  
  • Oregano 
can cats drink tea

Perfect Tea Substitute 

Let’s be honest, nothing beats clean, fresh water for your cat. This is the safest option that will help keep your cat hydrated and will flush toxins out of their system naturally.

Always make sure your cat has access to clean, freshwater. Some cats don’t like to drink from bowls and prefer cat water fountains that keep the water moving and make it more appealing for cats to drink. 

Cats Natural Diet 

One of the easiest ways to think about whether something is suitable for your cat is to consider it in the context of what your cat would consume naturally.

When it comes to tea, the most they would do is eat some of the leaves of a tea plant. However, a cat’s diet is primarily meat so it is unlikely a cat would consume tea leaves often (if at all) as part of their natural diet.

As human’s brew the tea leaves and many manufactured teas contain essential oils this takes the end product far from simply eating a couple of tea leaves which is why it is better and safer to offer water rather than tea. 

To Summarise 

Some teas are safe to offer your cat if they are heavily diluted and offered at room temperature.

However, the vast majority of tea contains caffeine and strong essential oils and flavours making them dangerous for cats to consume.

As tea containing caffeine can cause caffeine poisoning and an array of health issues it is better to offer water instead of tea unless you are certain the tea you are offering is safe. 

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