her favorite foods are cigarette butts and junk mail, should I add basil to the list?
February 21, 2007 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Will my cat eat basil? What happens if she does?

So the local grocery has basil plants on sale, and I was thinking it would be pretty nice to take advantage of the massive amount of sun my place gets, buy two or three, and set up a big pot of the stuff for use whenever I want.

The problem is, I have a cat. A terror of a cat, to be more specific. One who, while she will use the litterbox, has resisted any attempts at training above and beyond that. (she was used, so I suspect the problem was beyond fixing once we got her. I'm just happy she now knows enough not to jump on tables when we can see her).

If I do this will she eat the basil (well, odds are she will, she's a nut). More specifically, is basil something cats are drawn to?
And if she does eat it, will it harm her in any way?
posted by Kellydamnit to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mine aren't interested in it. I highly doubt it's dangerous though. You could also buy a catnip plant to distract her.
posted by loiseau at 11:36 AM on February 21, 2007

Here's the Cat Fanciers Association's list of plants toxic to cats. Basil is not on it.

If your cat is anything like mine, the plant will get chewed on anyways.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:16 PM on February 21, 2007

My cat moved heaven and earth to eat the basil plant I got. The poor thing never had a chance.
posted by 31d1 at 12:44 PM on February 21, 2007

I've had potted basil plants and my cats were indifferent to them.
posted by zadcat at 12:46 PM on February 21, 2007

I have cats; I have had potted basil.

Somewhat inexplicably, they ignored it. I'm typing this near a couple of well-chewed houseplants (one of which is "poisonous," which is also owned by our cat-owning florist, who, like me, thinks some of those lists are a little over-cautious, but that's another topic), so undisturbed basil was a surprise.

That said:

I have never taken home a supermarket basil plant in winter and managed to keep it around for more than a couple of weeks. Despite re-potting (or not). The basil you're getting in Buffalo is probably similar to what I'm getting in Ottawa. (See here.)

And: I tried all manner of repellent tomfoolery on the houseplants; nothing worked well until I started leaving little bits of chopped greens in the food bowl after I noticed somebody chewing on the chard while I was making soup. Occasional bits of kitty salad (romaine has also been a hit) means intact houseplants.

Here, at least. Your cat may vary.
posted by kmennie at 12:50 PM on February 21, 2007

Our cats will chew any plant life within reach. About the only place we can keep plants is the top of the entertainment center. Our next attempt will be hanging baskets -- could that work for you?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:54 PM on February 21, 2007

Our cat used to chew on every plant in the house (including basil) until we started buying him little oatgrass and wheatgrass plants, which we kept on a windowsill near his scratching post/pedestal. (Pet stores sell it as "kitty grass", but most grocery stores sell it cheaper, look in the organic/health section of the produce aisles). With regular water and the occasional trimming, we can keep the grass alive for about a month, before replacing it.

Now, he only seems to be interested in his own grass, and leaves everything else alone.
posted by toxic at 2:01 PM on February 21, 2007

My cats both are attracted to and eat basil. They are fine after eating it, however.

I bought a cheap little tabletop greenhouse at Ikea that I use for growing my herbs. The cats haven't figured out how to crack into it yet, thankfully.
posted by divka at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2007

My cats ignored both the Genovese and the Mrs. Burns' Lemon basils I had growing in my garden last year.
posted by Asparagirl at 5:09 PM on February 21, 2007

1) it's funny that you called your cat "used" ... i'll have to try that sometime.

2) i tried to make my cat eat avocado last night... and it's on "the list" linked to above (but what isn't?.... except, ironically, basil). well, she ate a bit and didn't die or get sick.

4) i don't really have an answer better than those above, but...

why don't you just by a basil plant since it's on sale for what, ($1.99?), and put it out. if the cat starts chomping on it, go plant it outside or make dome for it with an old two liter bottle. if the cat doesn't chomp on it, then you've got your answer and can rush back to the store to save another buck or two before the basil goes off sale.

from the other answers, your description, and my own experience... i think this is just going to depend on your cat. so just give it try...
posted by eli_d at 6:56 PM on February 21, 2007

my cat likes to stick his nose in basil, but he won't eat it.
buy your cat some wheatgrass and she'll ignore the basil.
if she does eat it, basil won't hurt her.
posted by twistofrhyme at 8:43 PM on February 21, 2007

Will my cat eat basil?
What happens if she does?
Will she suffer poisoning?
Will she get a buzz?
Will her poo smell spicy,
and fragrant in the tray?
I tell you now that if it does,
She'll have it every day.

I was going to set it to music and post it, but I haven't the time.
posted by tomble at 10:13 PM on February 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

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