The thyme plant is an herb often grown for use in cooking. Like parsley and catnip, some cats enjoy chewing on thyme leaves that they find in the garden or home. Though thyme oil can be an irritant, thyme is generally regarded as safe for cats and is not toxic for them when ingested. Unlike some plants such as aloe vera, daffodils and oleander, thyme is not poisonous to cats.
Though thyme oil is recognised as safe by the FDA, it can be a skin irritant, both for humans and animals such as cats. When large quantities of oil are applied directly to the skin, the skin can become red and itchy. Though this is uncomfortable, it is generally not toxic and the irritation will subside in a few hours.
If consumed in large doses, thyme oil can be toxic to humans and animals. Thyme plants themselves do not contain enough oil to be dangerous for cats, but never give your cat concentrated thyme oil. This can be extremely irritating for the stomach and can cause nausea, vomiting and gastritis.
Not only is thyme not toxic for your cat to chew on, but thyme is thought to have many positive health benefits. Thyme is an expectorant for the respiratory system and can sooth a cough or sore through, even in felines. Thyme plants also have natural antibacterial properties, and in some cultures, the plant is applied to wounds to help heal them.
Thyme plants are naturally hypotensive, meaning that they are natural sedatives. Not only is thyme not poisonous, but like other herbs such as lavender, it can help reduce stress and calm the nerves, even for cats.