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Is witch hazel toxic to cats?

Is witch hazel toxic to cats?

September 16, 2023

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For many cat owners, the health and wellbeing of their feline friends is a top priority. One common question that arises is whether certain substances are safe for cats to ingest or come into contact with. One such substance is witch hazel, a plant extract often used in skincare and health products. In this article, we delve deep into the question: Is witch hazel toxic to cats?

Understanding Witch Hazel

Is witch hazel toxic to cats?

Witch hazel is a plant native to North America and parts of Asia. It’s known for its healing properties and is commonly used in over-the-counter skin care products, including toners, creams, and ointments. Despite its beneficial effects on human skin, the safety of witch hazel for cats remains a topic of debate among veterinarians and pet owners alike.

Is Witch Hazel Toxic to Cats?

The straightforward answer to this question is yes. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), witch hazel is considered toxic to cats. This toxicity stems from the high concentration of tannins in the plant, which can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested by your feline friend.

The Symptoms of Witch Hazel Poisoning

If your cat has ingested or come into contact with witch hazel, they may exhibit several symptoms. These can include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and changes in behavior such as increased aggression or depression. If you notice any of these signs after your cat has been exposed to witch hazel, it’s essential to seek veterinary attention immediately.

The Science Behind the Toxicity

In a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, researchers found that ingestion of witch hazel can lead to a condition known as Heinz body anemia in cats. This is a serious health issue where the cat’s body destroys its own red blood cells, leading to anemia and potentially fatal complications if left untreated.

Preventing Witch Hazel Exposure

The best way to protect your cat from the potential dangers of witch hazel is to prevent exposure in the first place. This means keeping any products containing witch hazel out of reach of your cat, and ensuring that any plants in your home or garden are safe for cats. If you’re unsure, consult with your vet or a local nursery for advice.

Alternative Products

If you’ve been using witch hazel products around your cat, consider switching to cat-friendly alternatives. Many natural skincare and health products are safe for cats, including aloe vera, coconut oil, and certain essential oils. However, always consult with your vet before introducing any new substances into your cat’s environment.


To sum up, while witch hazel may have numerous benefits for humans, it can be harmful to our feline friends. The ingestion or topical application of this plant can lead to serious health issues in cats, so it’s best to keep it out of their reach. Always prioritize your pet’s safety by consulting with a vet before introducing new substances into their environment. Remember, prevention is the best cure when it comes to protecting our pets from potential toxins.

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