Can Cats Eat Za’atar?

No, cats can’t eat za’atar, because some of the herbs commonly used in this spice blend can be toxic or harmful to cats.


Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture containing herbs like thyme, oregano, marjoram and savory. It is used as a seasoning on breads, meats and vegetables. While za’atar tastes great on human foods, it does not make a safe snack for cats. The aromatic nature of the herbs can be overpowering and potentially dangerous to a cat’s system. This article answer on can cats eat za’atar, the nutritional value and risks, and safe alternative treats cats can eat instead.

Nutritional Value

Za’atar alone does not provide complete or balanced nutrition for cats. Here is an overview of nutrients commonly found in za’atar spices:

  • Vitamins A and K: Some of the herbs in za’atar contain these fat-soluble vitamins. But cats require them in precise amounts, best obtained from cat food. Too much vitamin K can lead to toxicity.
  • Iron: Small amounts of iron are found in za’atar. But too much iron can be poisonous to cats, so they should not eat iron-rich foods.
  • Fiber: Herbs used in za’atar provide fiber. But cats have a low fiber requirement, easily met through their normal diet.
  • Flavor: While humans enjoy the strong, aromatic flavors of za’atar, they may be unpalatable and harsh for a cat’s sensitive sense of taste.

Overall, za’atar provides no nutritional benefits cats cannot obtain from their complete commercial cat food. And the spices pose some mineral and toxicity risks outweighing any positives.

Potential Risks

Eating za’atar may be risky for cats due to:

  • Gastrointestinal issues: The strong spices and oils in za’atar can irritate a cat’s digestive tract, causing vomiting, diarrhea or excessive drooling.
  • Liver toxicity: Some herbs in za’atar like oregano contain compounds that can be toxic to a cat’s liver if eaten in excess.
  • Allergic reaction: Cats may be allergic to the strong aromatic compounds in za’atar, causing itchy skin, hives, wheezing or swelling of the mouth.
  • Respiratory issues: Oils in za’atar may cause breathing problems, especially for cats with asthma.
  • Choking hazard: Dry spices pose a choking risk for cats, especially if eating the za’atar dry directly from the seasoning blend.

It is not worth putting your cat at risk by feeding za’atar as a treat or adding it to their food. The possible toxic, allergic and digestive reactions make it an unsafe choice.

How to Serve Za’atar Safely to Cats

There is no truly safe way to serve za’atar seasoning directly to cats. The aromatic oils and strong herbal flavors pose too many risks for cats. Avoid adding za’atar spice blends to your cat’s food or giving as an edible treat. Cats should not consume any amount. For human foods that are za’atar-seasoned, be sure to keep these well out of your cat’s reach to prevent accidental ingestion. Do not feel tempted to add small amounts to their diet. It is safest to keep cats away from za’atar seasonings entirely.

Serving Suggestions and Alternatives

Instead of za’atar, consider some safe, cat-friendly herb alternatives:

  • Catnip – This minty herb is attractive to many cats. Offer dried catnip leaves or catnip toys.
  • Parsley – Finely chop fresh parsley to mix into wet cat food in tiny amounts.
  • Oat grass – Grow this in pots for cats to graze on fresh grass shoots.
  • Cat thyme – Less intense than traditional thyme, it is gentler for cats.
  • Valerian – Use dried valerian root to stuff in treat balls or mixing toys.

Always monitor your cat’s reaction when introducing new herbs or plants. Make sure any herbs come from safe, chemical-free sources.

Special Considerations

Here are some extra precautions to take around cats and za’atar:

  • Kitten safety: Never feed za’atar seasonings to kittens, whose young digestive systems can be overtaxed by the strong spices and oils.
  • Multi-pet households: In homes with cats and dogs, make sure the za’atar is kept securely out of reach of pets, since it can be dangerous if eaten.
  • Allergies: If your cat has food allergies or is prone to upset stomach, do not risk feeding za’atar herbs, which could trigger reactions.
  • Medications: The essential oils in za’atar may interact with some oral or topical cat medications. Check with your veterinarian before exposing your cat.

When humans eat za’atar, be sure to enjoy it safely away from your cat to prevent accidental exposure or ingestion. Never intentionally feed it to cats.

Expert Opinions

According to veterinarians and animal safety sites, za’atar and the herbs it contains should not be fed to cats:

  • PetMD: Lists oregano, thyme and hyssop (za’atar ingredients) as unsafe herbs for cats, due to risks ranging from liver damage to neurotoxicity. Recommends keeping cats away from these strong spices.
  • ASPCA: Notes that essential oils in herbs like oregano can be toxic to cats. Advises not feeding cats any seasoning mixes containing these unsafe, aromatic ingredients.
  • Cat veterinarians: Recommend never purposefully feeding za’atar to cats, as the herbs involved can pose many dangers from toxicity to stomach upset. Risks outweigh any benefits.
  • Pet poison helplines: Advise that ingestion of herb mixes containing oils from oregano, thyme or other za’atar spices could potentially be toxic for cats and require emergency vet treatment.

Cat owners should follow veterinary recommendations to avoid feeding cats za’atar and keep this aromatic, strong-flavored spice blend safely out of their reach.


To conclude, cats can’t eat za’atar, because the strong oil components pose many risks ranging from toxicity to digestive upset. The herbs in za’atar provide no health benefits that cats cannot gain safely through commercial cat food and cat-safe herbs. Avoid exposing your cat to za’atar spices by ingestion or proximity, and offer safer herbal treats instead to prevent dangerous reactions. Steer clear of feeding za’atar to cats to keep them healthy.


Can cats eat the herbs in za’atar separately?

No, many herbs like thyme, oregano, hyssop and savory contain essential oils that are still unsafe for cats, even when consumed individually outside of za’atar spice blends.

What amount of za’atar is dangerous to cats?

Even tiny amounts of za’atar could cause toxicity or digestive upset in cats. Avoid feeding them any quantity, as the risks outweigh benefits.

Can I mix za’atar into my cat’s wet food?

No, you should never add za’atar or any of the constituent spices as mix-ins for your cat’s meals. This poses many dangers to cats, from toxicity to choking hazards.

Is dried za’atar herb safer?

Dried or fresh za’atar and the herbs in it are equally unsafe for cats. Drying does not remove the aromatic oils that can cause adverse reactions in cats.

Is it okay if my cat licks za’atar seasoning off my plate?

No, you should not allow or encourage cats to lick human foods seasoned with za’atar. Ingesting even small amounts puts cats at risk of toxicity from the oils and spices. Keep plates safely out of reach.

Can kittens have small tastes of za’atar?

Absolutely not. Kittens should never consume any amount of za’atar or za’atar spices like oregano. Their young bodies are even more vulnerable to toxic effects.

Will za’atar hurt dogs or other pets too?

Yes, za’atar also poses risks for pets like dogs, rodents and reptiles. Never feed it to any animal companions and store out of reach of all pets.

Can I grow za’atar herbs in my cat-safe garden?

No, avoid growing plants like oregano, thyme, hyssop or savory in spaces accessible to cats, as they may attempt to eat the fresh herbs and become ill.

Find more food informations about Cats, here, on our blog.

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