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 Taste Spicy Food? What You Need to Know!

Can Cats Taste Spicy Food? What You Need to Know!

spicy food on a pot

Picture this: you prepare a tasty meal full of your favorite spices and set it on the table. Out of the corner of your eye, you catch your cat creeping up on your plate. You can’t help but wonder if your cat can taste the spicy food.

Frankly, cats can’t taste the spices that you use on your food. Most likely, they get drawn by the dishes because of their ingredients. If the meal has fish, chicken, or beef, the cat will definitely come closer to take a bite. But don’t expect them to do so because of the spices you use.


The Cat Palate

As evolved as the human palate is, cats don’t have the same. They tend to eat what they like, not because of how it tastes. For them, it’s about the satisfaction they get from eating the meal. However, your cat might not eat the food if it’s too sour or spicy.

Still, as much as cats can be drawn to spicy food, it’s better not to feed it to them. Some spices can harm them. Not to mention that hot chili is still bitter, whether you take it or your feline friend.

cat eating food
Image Credit: Seattle Cat Photo, Shutterstock

Is Spicy Food Bad for Cats?

Spicy food can be amazing and quite an experience for you. But it’s better not to feed it to your cat. If they get too clingy and want a taste, you can give them a cat treat while you eat meal. There are certain ingredients in spicy food that contain harmful properties.

For instance, did you know cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, often used as a natural cat repellent? When your cat comes into contact with it, it gets the same reaction you do: watery eyes and irritation.

It’s not only chilies and pepper that have capsaicin. It’s also in herbs and spices like turmeric, cloves, ginger, sage, and cinnamon. All of these are spices that many people use to prepare foods. So, keeping your plate away from your feline friend is better and safer.

If your cat gets into spicy food, they may vocalize their distress. Not to mention developing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Instead of rushing to the vet because your cat ate your spicy food, keep them away from it.

spicy food on a plate
Image Credit: Metha_Rattanasampan, Pixabay

Why Do Some Cats Seem to Like Spicy Food?

Not all cats are drawn to spicy food. As some love the smell and come closer when you cook with spices, others stay clear of the kitchen. But why do some cats eat spicy food to the point of begging for it?

Some of the reasons are as follows:

Alluring Aromas

Imagine you pass by a restaurant or home cooking with the spices you like. It’s quite likely the aroma is everywhere. Spices have such strong aromas that tend to fill the whole space. That’s why you find your cat getting closer to your spicy food.

Like you, the aroma attracts them, and they want to taste this heavenly food. It doesn’t matter at that moment if the food is good or bad for their health. At this point, you can keep the lid tightly closed on the pot to prevent your cat from taking a bite.


As mentioned earlier, even if your cat doesn’t like the smell of spices, the ingredients can attract them. It’s especially true if the food has some meat in it. Cats love meat in any form and won’t even mind if the food has spices in it.


When you’re are hungry, food is food, right. There’s no time to be picky about what you eat. The same goes for most animals, including your cat. The spicy food draws them because you’ve missed their feeding time. Since your cat is hungry, they come for your plate.


What Spices Are Toxic to Cats?

While some spices simply irritate your cat, others can be downright toxic. These are spices and foods you never want your cat to eat no matter what. These include onion, garlic, and chives—common ingredients in spicy food.


cinnamon spice
Image Credit: 5389939, Pixabay

Most of us cook with cinnamon at home. Not only is it a great spice for dishes, but you can use it for baking. Cinnamon can be tasty and have a good scent, but it’s not a good spice for your cat to eat.

You don’t have to freak out because your cat licked some from the spoon. The issue is when your cat eats lots of food high in cinnamon. Most likely, they’ll get sick afterward. The same goes for a cinnamon stick since this is rich in a compound called coumarin.

Coumarin is a compound that you find in rat poison. Most manufacturers add it because it can be quite an effective way of eliminating rats. Unfortunately, the compound can have adverse effects on your cat. They can most likely start vomiting, seeming lethargic, have a weak heart rate, start panting, and even wheezing.

This is known as cinnamon poisoning and requires immediate medical attention for your cat. The effects might be too much for it if you take too long to respond to their distress.


nutmeg spice
Image Credit: scym, Pixabay

Nutmeg is another favorite when preparing spicy food. It gives it the right aroma and taste that you want. However, it’s only good for humans and not cats. Nutmeg contains a compound known as myristicin.

When your cat ingests food that has a high nutmeg content, it can develop serious abdominal cramps. In addition, your cat can start hallucinating and even have an elevated heart rate because of this compound. Even with proper care, it can be a day or two before your cat is back to its old self.


garlic on a wooden background
Image Credit: MaisonBoutarin, Pixabay

Garlic, onions, chives, leeks, and any other spice from the Allium species are harmful to cats. It doesn’t matter if the spice is powdered, dried, or fresh. Garlic, onions, and the rest of the Allium family contain a compound known as an n-propyl disulfide.

The compound causes toxicity in cats that become evident through certain signs. It attaches to red blood cells in the body and gets attacked in the process as an invader. Cats can easily develop anemia because of the compound since it destroys red blood cells.

Cats with anemia can be quite vulnerable. Therefore, it’s much better to keep cats away from these spices. If you cook food rich in them, ensure your cat doesn’t swallow any of it.


Are There Spices That Are Good for Cats?

Not all spices, though, are harmful to your feline friend. It’s best to distinguish between those that are poisonous and those that aren’t. Cats can easily eat the following spices:


ginger on a wooden background
Image Credit: jmexclusives, Pixabay

A small amount of ginger is good for felines. In fact, you can use ginger to help your cat if they are experiencing stomach pain or issues. Ginger is one of the few human foods that are good for cats.


Dried green catnip for cats spilling from container
Image Credit: gvictoria, Shutterstock

It’s a no-brainer that cats love some catnip. They can literally gorge themselves full of the spice if left unsupervised. Catnip helps cats relax and get in a better mood.


dill spice on a wooden background
Image Credit: lesterjamesuagum, Pixabay

Give your kitty friend some fresh dill if you notice they have gas. Dill is a natural spice that won’t harm them. It helps calm the stomach and reduce bloating.


close up of a valerian herb
Image Credit: Carola68, Pixabay

A good herb for cats is valerian. It works as a natural stimulant that keeps them invigorated and energized.


basil herbs in a wooden bowl
Image Credit: Konstantin Kolosov, Pixabay

Basil is a culinary spice that’s good for your cat. It won’t harm if they eat food that has some basil in it.



Spicy food can be quite good and healthy for you. However, these spices may have compounds that harm your cat. So, as much as you’d love to share a plate with your feline friend, it’s better not to. Instead, serve them their designated food to take attention away from what you are eating.

Cats love spicy food because of the aroma, the ingredients, and simply because they like human food. But some spices like cinnamon, chili, and nutmeg can cause your cat serious health complications.

Still, not all spices are bad for cats. Some like ginger, catnip, dill, and valerian can be good for your cat. They can even help soother their tummies in case they have irritations or gas.

Featured Image Credit: Baohm, Pixabay

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