By Kim Rain
Published: 01/23/2021, edited: 10/26/2022
With the tangy sweetness of citrus, there’s nothing quite like a tall glass of orange juice. From cooking and baking, to simply peeling and eating, oranges have been a delightful part of the human diet for centuries.
If you share your home with a cat, you’ve likely had your frisky feline try to steal whatever happens to be in your diet. But do they eat oranges too?
While the sweet taste of an orange is appealing to us, cats are often put off by the smell of any citrus fruit. In fact, cats dislike the scent of oranges and other citrus so much that some cat repellents use these smells to deter cats from certain areas.
Usually, cats don’t eat citrus, but if your curious kitty is pawing at your hand as you peel an orange, a better question should be can cats eat oranges? The short answer is: no, as oranges, like all citrus fruits, are toxic to cats. Read on to discover why you shouldn’t share this yummy snack with your furry bestie.
A staple of many breakfast tables, oranges, and orange juice are full of healthy vitamin C, a nutrient that helps our bodies in many ways. This vitamin helps absorb iron, strengthen the immune system, and maintains a healthy cardiac system, and is also an anti-oxidant that protects cells from inflammation and oxidative stress.
Humans can’t synthesize Vitamin C, which is why we eat it in our diet. But cats can make all the vitamin C they need inside their own bodies, and don’t need to eat it in their food. So, if cats don’t need the nutrients from an orange, how about just for a snack?
Oranges are also full of sugar, which cats really don’t need, as well as acids that can cause distress to their digestive systems. Then, there are the essential oils found throughout the fruit and peel that make oranges smell simply divine, but they could cause problems with your cat’s nervous system. And lastly, there are the psoralens, which are toxic chemical compounds that can cause photosensitivity.
The same compounds that make oranges toxic to cats are present in all citrus fruits, so for your kitty’s sake, it’s best to leave these fruity snacks to the humans. If you have a sneaky scavenger, though, they may grab a bite without you knowing!
Whether you caught your cat gnawing on an orange peel, or they ran off with a dropped segment of fruit, you’ll want to monitor them closely for any signs of citrus poisoning. Usually, symptoms are associated with the digestive system, but in severe poisonings, they can affect the nervous system too. Your cat could also have an allergic skin reaction from touching part of their body to a piece of orange.
Symptoms can include:
The severity of your cat’s reaction will depend on how much of the orange was ingested, as well as which part, as the peel contains more toxic compounds than the fruit. Fatalities due to an orange poisoning are rare, and most cats can fully recovery with timely treatment, so be sure to contact your veterinarian right away if you notice any of the above reactions.
Treats made for cats are going to be the safest kind of snack you can give your precious furball, but if you are looking for something more natural to share, there are a few fruits that don’t contain toxic ingredients.
Lots of kitties love blueberries and strawberries, just be sure to cut off the stems and leaves first. Peeled bananas are a super yummy and fiber filled treat that can be served up in bite size pieces, and even frozen! Peeled, cored and de-seeded apples cut into slices are a healthy and safe choice. And lastly, melons are a pawrific alternative to oranges, so try small bites of crunchy and hydrating watermelon.
Remember moderation when feeding your cat any treats or snacks, fruits included. Any and all treats together should only equal 10 percent of your cat’s entire daily caloric intake. Also, if you are unsure what or how much to give your cat, or if they have diabetes or any other health conditions, always speak with your veterinarian first before introduced a new food to your feline.
So, give the oranges and citrus a pass, and keep your cat feeling great with healthier snack choices.
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