Turmeric for Your Cat
By now we’ve all heard that turmeric (curcuma longa) is a ‘wonder-spice’ which has significant health benefits for humans and even for our canine companions. So the question is whether turmeric can also benefit your favorite feline? The short answer is “maybe”. While turmeric can help reduce your own inflammation and arthritis pain, among other things, all the studies about the beneficial effects of turmeric have been done on humans, not on cats. Therefore, we will discuss the pros and cons of turmeric for your feline companions but always consult with your veterinarian to determine whether adding turmeric to your kitty’s diet is advisable.
What are the Issues with Giving Turmeric to Your Feline Children?
Turmeric is a spice that comes from grinding the roots of the turmeric plant. Curcumin is the compound in turmeric which gives the spice its color and provides the beneficial effects associated with the spice. Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects in humans and may also help combat and prevent cancer, reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and provide protection to a number of our vital organs.
So what are the issues?
- Contamination: Turmeric has been shown to be one of the most contaminated spices in the world and the FDA routinely issues recalls for Turmeric because of high levels of lead and other metals.
- Bioavailability: Getting enough curcumin to reap the benefits can be difficult, especially since it is not water soluble and is therefore rapidly metabolized and excreted. You may therefore want to use a specially formulated Organic Tumeric Curcumin for your cat.
- No definitive studies: As stated above, the vast majority of the research into the health benefits of turmeric pertains to humans, rather than to our animal companions.
What Conditions can Turmeric help with?
Now that you know what the main issues are, here is some information regarding the potential benefits of turmeric/curcumin supplementation for your feline baby.
As with humans, turmeric may provide anti-inflammatory relief, help with pain associated with arthritis, provide relief for hot spots, cysts and wound care, increase skin and coat health and boost your kittie’s immune system health. For a more detailed discussion of the benefits – for both humans and our animal companions – of turmeric/curcumin, check out the YouTube video with Karen Becker, DVM.
How to Use Turmeric
Although you can find turmeric in the spice section of most grocery stores, you should also be able to purchase turmeric in bulk at most health food stores and Indian groceries as well as online. However, because of the contamination and bioavailability issues associated with turmeric, you may want to consider using Thorne Research Veterinary Phytoprofen which include curcumin.
Turmeric can be used both internally, through supplementation via a veterinary formulation, by adding it to your cat’s food, either alone or with an omega 3 oil such as fish, salmon, green-lipped mussel or krill oil, and externally by sprinkling it on a wound or mixing it with oil to form a paste. Note that you may want to avoid giving your cat coconut oil to eat. If you decide to use turmeric straight up, you may mix up to ¼ teaspoon (for cats up to 20 pounds) into your cat’s food.
If you want to use turmeric externally to help with a skin infection, wound care or to stem bleeding, clean the affected area and then simply sprinkle turmeric on the affected area. You can also prepare a paste using coconut oil and spread that
on the area twice a day. Keep in mind that your cat may want to lick the paste or turmeric off so you may have to apply several times a day. Also note that turmeric, with its bright yellow to orange color, can stain both your pet’s fur and your rugs and furniture.
The jury is still out on whether turmeric offers real health benefits for cats. However, if you use turmeric/curcumin in moderation and work with your vet to ensure that your cat is on a healthy diet, you may find that turmeric does indeed provide your fur baby with some of the same health benefits turmeric can provide to you.
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