Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Cats > Can Cats Eat Vanilla? Vet-Reviewed Facts, Types, & Allergies

Can Cats Eat Vanilla? Vet-Reviewed Facts, Types, & Allergies

Can Cats Eat Vanilla

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Felines are carnivores, so they don’t require foods like vanilla to thrive, let alone survive. However, that doesn’t stop cats from munching on things that they don’t need for nutrition. Few cat owners can say that they haven’t seen their pets eat scraps of food that fall on the floor or get left on the counter. So, it should not be a big surprise if you see your cat try to scarf down a vanilla bean, lick up vanilla extract, or nibble a vanilla-flavored dessert at least once.

However, you should determine whether it’s okay for cats to eat vanilla before you let them try it. The short answer is that it depends on the kind of vanilla. In its natural form, vanilla (a tiny amount) should be okay for your kitty to eat. But it’s a different story when it comes to things like vanilla extract and vanilla desserts. Read on to learn more.


Vanilla in Its Natural Form

Vanilla seeds and pods come from the vanilla orchid, Vanilla planifolia, a plant native to Mexico. There is nothing about the natural vanilla bean that is toxic to cats, so it is not inherently dangerous to them if they eat it. However, there are no proven health benefits for cats if they eat vanilla, so it isn’t something that you should go out of your way to give them. If they eat too much vanilla bean, your kitty might experience gastrointestinal distress simply because their bodies are not used to digesting it, but no serious issues should arise unless allergies are present.

scrape black vanilla seeds on the tip of a knife close up
Image by: Picture Partners, Shutterstock

Vanilla Allergies

While natural vanilla beans are not toxic to cats in general, it is in theory possible to be allergic to any food. Food allergies are the third most common type of allergies among cats but still only affect around 5%. Therefore, it would be rare to see signs of an allergic reaction if your kitty eats vanilla. Signs could include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching
  • Skin lesions
  • Hair loss

If you have any concerns about your cat’s health contact your veterinary surgeon for advice.


Vanilla Extract

It is best to keep cats away from vanilla extract for a couple of reasons. First, many vanilla extracts contain alcohol, which felines should never consume because it is toxic to them. Pure vanilla extract contains 35% or more alcohol! Certain vanilla-flavored extracts don’t contain alcohol, but if you don’t know exactly what is in the extract, letting your cat consume even a tiny amount is not worth the risk.

A few licks of pure vanilla extract is enough for you to worry about alcohol toxicity. Signs of alcohol poisoning in cats include:

  • Stumbling gait
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Tremors

Seizures and coma can also develop in severe cases of alcohol poisoning. Signs of poisoning typically start to develop within 90 minutes. If you see your cat consume pure vanilla extract and/or notice any signs of alcohol poisoning, contact your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control (1-888-426-4435) immediately.

Young male vet doctor holding cute black and white tuxedo cat
Image by: ViJpeg, Shutterstock

Vanilla Desserts

The problem with vanilla-flavored desserts like ice cream, pudding, and cake is that they contain all kinds of other ingredients that are not healthy for cats. For example, sugar can contribute to problems like excessive weight gain and diabetes. Here are other ingredients that could be in vanilla-flavored desserts and that are potentially toxic or at the least not healthy for cats:

  • Chocolate
  • Raisins
  • Dairy

The artificial ingredients found in prepackaged vanilla-flavored desserts don’t belong in a cat’s diet either. Luckily, cats cannot taste sweetness, so they aren’t missing out on anything by being denied vanilla-flavored desserts.

Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
179 Reviews
Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
  • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
  • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...
  • CHEW-SAFE MATERIALS - Kittens and cats love chewing on silicone and soft rubber - but it's a choking...

Knowing exactly what your feline companion can and cannot eat will help you become the best pet parent. Recognizing that not all cat bowls are equal is also key! The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl sets itself apart from traditional options by catering to the specific needs of cats. The innovative design offers whisker relief via shallow dishes and promotes digestion with a slight bowl elevation. Find out if the Hepper NomNom is right for your cat by clicking here.

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!


A Quick Recap

Natural vanilla beans aren’t toxic to cats, so it’s not a big deal if they end up consuming a tiny piece. However, other vanilla products, like pure vanilla extract, should be kept away from your kitty at all costs. If you feel concerned for any reason at all after your cat consumes vanilla, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

Featured Image by: joanna wnuk, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets