Can Cats Eat Oranges? Are citrus fruits are toxic?

Do cats eat oranges? Can they? These are probably some of the questions running through your mind when your cat seems interested in your orange. If your share your home with your pet cat, you’ve most likely had them try to steal something from your plate. But do they eat oranges as well? Are they safe for cats?

The answer is simple; no, oranges and all citrus fruits are toxic to your cat. For humans, oranges are a rich source of calcium, vitamin C, and water, and a few slices of orange may seem like a good idea while trying to round up your cat’s diet. However, cats cannot safely consume a lot of plant matter as they are obligate carnivores, which means that most domesticated cats tend to have an adverse reaction.

Read on and discover why sharing your sweet orange snack with your furry best friend isn’t such a good idea!

Should Cats Eat Oranges?

Feeding an orange to a cat is risky. They may eat a peeled orange and display no ill effects, or grow ill in the next few days, or fall sick several weeks later after eating several oranges, of course, depending on several factors like age.

Did you know that cats are obligate carnivores? It means they cannot digest plant substances properly as they get all their nutrients from meats. However, eating fruit or vegetable won’t lead to a total shutdown of its body; it makes them ill over a certain period.

Human bodies get a huge percentage of their vitamin C requirement just from eating one orange. But cats do not get their vitamin C from their diet because their bodies produce it. The excess vitamin C in their bodies is excreted as oxalate to avoid calcium oxalate stones in the urinary tract.

Oranges will only fill up valuable space in the cat’s stomach with food it cannot digest properly, limiting their appetite for the food they can actually process. It also means that you should not be surprised if your cat experiences constipation or diarrhea in the next few days as the body struggles to digest the plant material.

Even if oranges weren’t harmful to cats, you still shouldn’t offer them as a treat or meal. They don’t have a place in your cat’s diet and are just empty calories, if not actively risky!

Do Cats Like Oranges?

It is sporadic for a cat to like oranges. Many cat owners have noticed that their cats vacate the area immediately after there is a hint of orange. This is because felines cannot stand the smell of citrus fruits, and hence there is a meager chance of eating them.

You are probably wondering why cats would hate the smell of citrus. Well, the compounds inside an orange are very potent to the cats’ sense of smell; even for us, slicing up your fresh orange gives a sharp hit to the nose sometimes.

Applied Animal Behavior suggests that cats’ noses are powerful and can pick out more individual scents than dogs. Therefore, it means that the cat can pick out every tinge of a strong citrus gust, which can be so overwhelming that it has to retreat from that area. The smell puts them off, and in fact, some cat repellents use citrus scents to deter the cats from some areas.

We cannot rule out the possibility that some cats will still try to eat an orange. Curious felines and kittens are likely to reach for a slice to gauge its texture or flavor, hence why it would be a good idea to keep the fruits out of their reach.

Why Are Oranges Considered Bad For Cats

While oranges are a beneficial fruit to humans, thanks to their excellent vitamin C amounts, it is an entirely different situation for cats.

They should not be eating any oranges or citrus fruits. The fruit meat may be edible and not very harmful in moderation, but the pips and rind can be detrimental, and any cross-contamination could lead to sickness.

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), oranges are considered harmful for cats to eat because of the psoralens and essential oils that they contain. The natural oils in the fruits are also believed to be toxic, and studies are still underway on the different ways in which these compounds affect a cat’s body.

The citric acid from oranges also upsets the cat’s stomach causing them to vomit and, in some cases, severe diarrhea.

How Oranges are Harmful To Cats

Oranges are harmful and toxic to cats due to the essential oils found in their peels. These essential oils include;

  1. Linalool
  2. D-limonene
  3. Psoralens

These named compounds, as reinforced by the ASPCA listing, have deadly effects on animals like cats. While horses and dogs also fall under this category, cats are considered more vulnerable to the effects of essential oils.

Why are they believed to be more susceptible? Here’s why;

  • They are much smaller than other animals.
  • The way they digest certain compounds, particularly those in the phenol family.
  • Cats have higher chances of ingesting phenols due to their grooming style of licking their fur.

Phenols give many plants their coloring, and they also have a useful purpose in the diet of a human being. They also help in repelling parasites and UV radiation. However, felines react as they cannot process the phenolic compounds, so phenols build up in their liver until they get to a lethal degree.

Avoiding your cats’ contact with phenols does not only apply to what they eat but also what they touch. If you decide to purchase a pellet litter for your furry friend, for example, avoid buying those made of pine. Pine barks contain high phenol levels that are toxic to cats and can lead to rashes on the skin, lethargy, and subsequent liver damage.

Is The Smell Of Oranges Harmful to Cats?

The sensitive nature of cats’ noses may cause them to avoid the smell of oranges, but does that make it bad for them? Should you be proactive in preventing any citrus aromas around your pet?

There is not much evidence to suggest that the smell of oranges or citrus is enough to harm your cat. Nevertheless, even if it was harmful, most cats avoid it anyway, not because it is dangerous but rather too fragrant.

Are the Orange Peels Bad For Cats?

Without a doubt, the peel is the most dangerous part of orange for cats, as it contains essential oils in high levels. The essential oils are responsible for the strong scent, so potpourri usually utilizes the peels rather than the fruit itself.

The orange peels are so concentrated with the essential oils that they are often used to deter felines. That said, every part of the fruit should be treated as potentially dangerous to be on the safe side. Alongside the peels, seeds, leaves, and orange tree bark are all considered toxic if ingested by cats.

What Happens If Cats Eat Oranges?

When a cat eats oranges, it almost immediately can exhibit signs and symptoms of citrus poisoning. However, there are instances, of course, where cats eat citrus and still feel fine. The manner in which citrus affects your cat will depend on several factors, including;

  • The cat’s weight
  • The amount of citrus ingested
  • How the ingested orange was prepared
  • Genetics
  • The pre-existing health conditions of the cat
  • If the fruit touches any other part of the cat

Once an orange gets in contact with the cats’ skin, it may cause allergic dermatitis. Allergic dermatitis occurs differently from one cat to another, but the most common way it manifests is through excessive itching and hair loss.

Signs that Your Cat Has Eaten an Orange

Whether your cat ran off with a piece of orange that dropped on the ground, or you caught them gnawing on a peel, you definitely want to keep an eye out and monitor closely for any citrus poisoning symptoms.

The symptoms are usually related to the digestive system, but in cases of severe poisonings may affect the nervous system. Allergic skin reactions may also be experienced if the orange touches any part of the feline’s body.

The symptoms to look out for include;

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach distress
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Seizure
  • Photosensitivity
  • Depression

Severity of your cats’ reaction to eating an orange will depend on how much was ingested and which part, as orange peels contain more toxic compounds than the fruit itself.

Fatalities because of orange poisoning are quite rare, and most cats make a full recovery with timely treatment. Be sure, therefore, to contact your vet immediately you notice any of the reactions named above.

What To Do If Your Cat Ate An Orange

First things first, if you notice that your cat has ingested an orange, monitor them to see if they exhibit any signs of distress.

If you notice vomiting, get in contact with your veterinarian immediately. They could ask about the symptoms the cat is presenting and advise on whether or not you immediately need to seek emergency care.

As earlier mentioned, the skin contains higher essential oils levels than the fruit insides, so try and establish the part your cat ingested. The more information available for your vet, the better!

While we have established that oranges are harmful to cats, it is reassuring knowing that most of them will display an aversion to any citrus fruit, for starters. Hopefully, chances that your cat will eat an orange are on the lower side.

Can cats eat other citrus fruits?

We have probably focused on the oranges, and one could wonder whether other citrus foods are good for cats.

Unfortunately, any kind of citrus is hazardous to cats. If you’re eating grapefruits or cooking with lemon, you might want to keep them away from the cats’ reach.

All citrus fruits are bad for cats; they will cause stomach upsets and pose the risk of a severe medical condition in the central nervous system.

Are orange-based cleaning products harmful too?

Households across the world use orange-based cleaning products daily. While there is no problem using these products on your kitchen countertop or bathroom, it is advisable not to use them anywhere near your cats’ toys, beddings, food bowls, or litter box.

The orange-based products may themselves not be harmful to your cat once the surface dries, but the odor may force the cat to avoid the areas sprayed with the cleaners.

It means they could end up doing their business elsewhere or even forego their meals, which you obviously don’t want.

Ditch Oranges for Healthier Fruit Options

The safest kind of snack to give your beloved furball is treats made specifically for cats. However, if you are looking for more natural options to share, there are several fruit options without toxic components that you can try.

Many kitties enjoy strawberries and blueberries but ensure you cut off the leaves and stems first. You can also share a peeled banana; they are yummy and are a fiber-filled treat that you can serve in bite-size pieces.

Another safe and healthy choice can be a peeled, de-seeded, and cored apple sliced up into small pieces. You could also try small bites of crunchy and hydrating melons!

Always remember to practice moderation while feeding your cats any snacks or treats, fruits included. All the treats your cat consumes should only equal ten percent of their daily caloric intake.

If you are unsure of what to feed your cat or have any health conditions like diabetes, ensure you speak to your vet first before introducing new foods to your feline. Better safe than sorry!

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