flowering purple thyme growing wild in a meadow

Is Thyme Safe For Cats To Eat?

Can cats eat thyme? Is thyme safe for cats to eat? You might be pondering these questions if you have just spotted your cat nibbling on some thyme in your yard or if you notice your cat smells of thyme and are fearing the worst. 

We will take you through everything you need to know when it comes to thyme and your kitty. Is it toxic, is my cat eating it for some unknown benefit, or is my cat drawn to it? Read on to find out more…

What Is Thyme?

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a perennial herbaceous plant. The genus, Thymus, contains about 350 different variations. The shrub tends to be quite small, with wiry stems and small oval leaves. The plant is known for its aroma.

Cat thyme (teucrium marum) is a small plant with similar-looking leaves to thyme but is in fact a completely different genus of plant. Unlike thyme, cat time has a strong musky odor and is not widely used in cooking as it has a rather bitter taste with a strong accompanying heat – it is known for causing sneezing!

Is My Cat Attracted To Thyme?

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) does not contain any chemicals that might attract your cat to it. Unlike catnip, from your cat’s point of view, the shrub is an altogether unremarkable piece of vegetation. 

However, your cat might have found the odor or texture of thyme curious and may have explored the plant and found it to be attractive either due to its flavor, texture or odor. As a result, it may indulge in the odd nibble or brush up alongside the shrub from time to time. If this is the case your cat will likely lose interest in the plant in the near future.

Cat Thyme (teucrium marum) on the other hand, is kitty crack! Although named after common thyme due to its appearance, it smells completely different and is in fact, from a completely different plant genus. Your cat will be more attracted to this than even catnip! In fact, if your cat couldn’t care less about catnip you might find they go wild for this stuff! 

Is It Safe For My Cat To Eat?

According to the ASPCA fresh and dried thyme is safe for your cat to eat. In these forms, thyme is non toxic to your cat. If you see your cat nibbling thyme don’t worry, they will come to no harm. (The same can be said for Basil and Sage)

If you are assessing the plants in your yard for cat safety and identify thyme, then rest assured it is one of the plants safe for cats. 

Cat thyme (teucrium marum) is also safe for your cat and you needn’t worry if your cat munches down and ends up wobbling about the place in a psychedelic trance! 

a pot of fresh basil and thyme on a garden table

Are There Any Benefits For Feeding My Cat Thyme?

Us humans have been putting thyme to use for thousands of years. The most common use of thyme is in food flavoring. Beyond its culinary uses, we have used thyme for its many medicinal properties. Thyme contains a natural biocide called thymol and has been used since the times of the Egyptian pharaohs – who used it in the embalming process! Thyme is thought to help in the treatment of bronchitis, cough, sore throat, arthritis, excessive gas as well as a host of other conditions.

Will your cat benefit from any of these medicinal properties? No, your cat’s digestive system lacks the enzymes to break down most plant matter. As a result ingested fresh or dried thyme is likely to transit your cats system and leave without imparting any magical benefits.

The likelihood is that if your cat does eat fresh thyme in your garden they are probably suffering from a dicky tummy and looking take on board some fiber to scrub the problem away or force an episode of vomiting to eject problem matter – same as when they eat grass or other non – hallucinogenic plant matter. 

Is Thyme Toxic To Cats?

You are wondering why we are covering this after just saying that thyme is safe for cats to eat? Well, in the last few years there has been an uptick in the number of people using essential oils for cleaning, air fresheners, medicinal benefits, and all sorts. 

Because cats are small and because cats do not have the same liver enzymes that we do, essential oils can be highly toxic in small doses for them whether applied directly to fur, paws, or breathed in through diffusers. 
Essential oils of thyme appear on this list of essential oils that are toxic to cats. Be warned – don’t risk essential oils on your cat without taking very strict precautions.