Can Cats Eat Rhubarb? 10 Facts To Find Out

Rhubarb has a sour flavor with a hint of sweetness. Thankfully, most cats don’t seem to enjoy this particular flavor combination, and the leaves and the rest of the plant are considered extremely toxic if consumed by pets.

Increased saliva production, vomiting, and diarrhea are all mild symptoms. Urinary tract crystals are a serious problem that can lead to kidney failure. Ingestion of rhubarb necessitates a trip to the vet and, in severe cases, hospitalization.

Can Cats Eat Rhubarb?

Cats shouldn’t eat rhubarb; it’s mentioned in the introduction.

To begin with, cats are strictly carnivores; their digestive systems were never meant to process plant matter. Rhubarb is not one of the plants or vegetables that are occasionally safe for cats.

Cats, dogs, and horses are all poisoned by this perennial vegetable.

The leaves of the rhubarb plant contain the majority of the plant’s soluble oxalates. Because of this, rhubarb’s greens are generally avoided by humans as well.

Oxalates that are soluble in water are absorbed by the body and compete with calcium for binding sites in the blood. This will cause calcium levels in the blood to drop, a condition known as hypocalcemia.

The good news is that most cats don’t care for the flavor of rhubarb. They aren’t interested in the stalk, and the leaves are far too bitter for them to eat.

About Rhubarb

The USDA incorrectly labels it as a fruit, but it is in fact a vegetable. Due to its sour flavor, it is rarely eaten raw but is frequently used in cooked dishes like crumbles and stews.

Even if you don’t give it to your cat on purpose, it’s possible that it could eat some while you’re away from home because it’s easy to grow and can be found in the wild. Your rhubarb and custard dessert might not be safe from a nosy cat.


Do Cats Like Rhubarb?

Fortunately, rhubarb probably won’t pique a cat’s interest very much. The leaves are too bitter, and the rhubarb stalk is a plant; cats rarely try to eat plants unless they are bored or sick, and even then they prefer grass.

It’s unlikely that a cat would pay any attention to cooked rhubarb. Cats may not find rhubarb appetizing because it has to be cooked with a lot of sugar before humans will eat it, and the high sugar content can be harmful to their health.

If you have a cat that is more interested in exploring than in eating, you should protect your rhubarb from your cat by enclosing it in some way so it can’t get to it.

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Do Cats Hate Rhubarb?

It could be argued that cats don’t like rhubarb because they typically avoid eating it.

Toxic foods are usually obvious to cats, and they will avoid them. I’ve never had a cat show any enthusiasm for rhubarb, indoors or out.

Oxalate Crystals in Rhubarb

Both humans and felines can be poisoned by rhubarb leaves. This is because, in addition to insoluble calcium raphides, they also contain soluble oxalate crystals. As a form of defense against potential predators, the plant produces this compound.

These crystals are absorbed in the digestive tract, where they bind to calcium in the bloodstream and reduce its availability. The oxalates can cause harm to the kidneys by crystallizing there and also have an irritant effect on the bowel.

Signs Of Rhubarb Poisoning In Cats

Although rhubarb is extremely poisonous to cats, there is some good news: the signs of poisoning are obvious and appear early, giving you plenty of time to get your cat medical help.

Salivation, vomiting, and nausea are early symptoms.

  • If your cat suddenly stops eating, especially if this is out of character, it may be sick. If your usually outgoing and sociable cat suddenly disappears or retreats to a quiet corner, this could be an indication that she is sick.
  • Rhubarb poisoning causes calcium levels in the body to drop, which can lead to drowsiness, twitching muscles, unsteadiness, and even seizures.
  • Cats should not vomit excessively because it can cause them to become dehydrated. Getting a cat to drink water and replenish their fluids is also a major challenge.
  • Urinary tract crystals can form from consuming rhubarb regularly. Urethral pain and blood in the urine are two symptoms. If you notice any of these signs in your cat, don’t hesitate to contact a vet right away.
Cat vomiting

Can Rhubarb Kill My Cat?

Rhubarb can cause death in cats, but more commonly it will just make them sick and miserable over time.

Cats’ liver damage is the leading cause of a wide variety of complications and early deaths.

Rhubarb contains high levels of soluble oxalates, which are toxic to cats. The large leaves contain the majority of the poison (though you’d have to eat a lot of leaves or eat them over a long period of time to feel the ill effects), but the stalks also contain enough to harm a cat.

Oxalates that are soluble in water are taken in and combine with calcium in the blood. This results in hypocalcemia and a kidney-damaging residue.

Low blood calcium levels can cause a variety of symptoms.

  • Weakness
  • Constipation, nausea, and loss of appetite
  • Drooling too much
  • Tremors
  • Coordination problems
  • feeling lost and unsettled
  • Renal insufficiency
  • Coma
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While these signs are more likely to appear if your cat eats the leaves, they have also been observed in cats that ingested the stalks, so there is no’safe’ part of the rhubarb plant.

Cats are much smaller than humans, so it wouldn’t take very many rhubarb leaves to have the same effect in a cat. (Other animals, like dogs and horses, are also susceptible to this. Fauna that normally eat plants, like deer, don’t.

If you cook the rhubarb, the amount of soluble oxalates it contains drops significantly, and your cat may be able to eat a small amount without any ill effects.

However, due to its high fiber content, rhubarb can make your cat sick with symptoms like indigestion, diarrhea, and stomach aches.

And since most rhubarb is reduced in a sugary cooking process, it’s still not good for your cat to eat. If your cat has food sensitivities, you should probably avoid feeding it any rhubarb, even if you cook it.

Although rhubarb is rich in vitamins C and K as well as manganese, calcium, and fiber, all of which (aside from vitamin C) are good for cats, the toxicity of the plant makes it preferable to get your cat to eat its regular food.

If you have a cat that will eat anything, including rhubarb, keep it locked up so you don’t have to make an emergency, and expensive, trip to the vet.


Talk to your vet right away if you suspect your cat has eaten rhubarb. Your cat may need intravenous fluid therapy if signs of illness are present. This helps maintain blood pressure and shield the kidneys by injecting fluid into the body.

Calcium-containing products may also be prescribed to help correct your cat’s low calcium levels and to bind the oxalates in the stomach. Kaolin and pectin can also be used to aid in oxalate binding.

A cat’s recovery from rhubarb poisoning could take up to three weeks. A bland, plain diet or one prescribed by your vet should be fed during this time, and you should make sure there is always plenty of clean water available. During this time of recuperation, your cat will require close supervision.

How Much Rhubarb Is Safe for My Cat to Eat?

Livestock that eat too many rhubarb leaves are more likely to become poisoned. However, your typical cat is more likely to either completely ignore it or sample it only briefly before turning away from it due to its unpleasant taste.

Should you, then, be overly concerned if you discover your cat has nibbled on your rhubarb plant?

At the very least, you should contact your vet and keep an eye on your cat for any signs of illness.

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It may just be a nibble, but depending on the cat’s size, the size of the nibble, and the sensitivity of your pet, you may find that your cat has an irritated mouth or stomach problems that you should discuss with your vet.

Having a fence around your rhubarb, keeping your cat active and entertained to prevent boredom, and keeping your cat far away from the plant are all effective deterrents.

The first time they do something potentially harmful, some cats just don’t get the message! You’ll have to resort to more extreme measures to discourage them from eating the rhubarb (I’ve been joking, sort of, that I have two toddlers: my human one and my newest cat, who is only three and acts more like a kitten still and that means spending time chasing them both away from danger, often the same danger many times!).

3 Other Plants That Are Toxic to Cats

Since it is a useful plant in the kitchen and is simple to cultivate, rhubarb can be found growing in gardens and fields all over the world. Care should be taken when growing other commonly grown and consumed plants that are known to be toxic to cats.

1. Tomatoes

sliced tomatoes

Tomatoes, like all members of the nightshade family, are toxic due to the presence of tomatine. Unripe tomatoes can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive salivation if consumed.

Your cat may also have a rapid heartbeat and display clumsy behavior. Keep an eye out for symptoms like dilated pupils, confusion, tremors, and even seizures.

2. Avocados


Avocados are loved by humans for their many beneficial properties, but when consumed by cats and dogs, they can cause mild toxicity.

Some birds and farm animals can be killed by even a very small amount. Due to the high fat content, ingestion by cats can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis.

3. Garlic


Garlic, along with other allium vegetables like onions, is extremely dangerous to pets. They have been linked to the death of red blood cells. Pale gums, fatigue, and weakness are all symptoms, as is abdominal pain.

Jaundice, anemia, and even collapse are possible late effects of toxicity. Common signs and symptoms include gastrointestinal distress, respiratory distress, and cardiovascular instability.

Final Thoughts

Keep your rhubarb plants in a secure location that your cats can’t reach. It’s better to be safe than sorry, even though most cats won’t touch rhubarb because they don’t like the way it smells or looks.

If you must grow rhubarb, do so in a part of the garden that the cat can’t get to. It’s possible that you’ll need to buy or construct plant guards to keep your cats from destroying your prized foliage.

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