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Home > Cats > Can Cats Eat Oranges? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can Cats Eat Oranges? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can Cats Eat Oranges

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are curious creatures, and their inquisitive nature often extends to the foods we eat. As pet owners, it’s essential to be mindful of what we feed our feline friends to ensure their health and well-being.

Oranges are one such food that your cat may find interesting. But can cats eat oranges? After all, oranges are packed with vitamin C and other nutrients that are beneficial to humans. However, when it comes to our furry companions, the answer is a no.

Why can’t cats eat oranges? Read on as we learn more about the cat’s diet and why oranges are not recommended!


The Cat Diet

First and foremost, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies are adapted to thrive on a diet consisting primarily of animal proteins.

Unlike us omnivorous humans who can benefit from a varied diet that includes fruits and vegetables, cats have specific dietary requirements that do not include plant matter in significant quantities. Cats need certain essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that are abundant in animal proteins, which are vital for their overall health.

Aside from the dietary requirements, they also do not have the necessary enzymes needed to properly digest plant foods.

gray tabby scottish fold cat licking its lips after eating food from bowl
Image by: P Stock, Shutterstock


Can Cats Eat Oranges?

While oranges are a nutritious choice for humans, they do not offer the same benefits to cats. Oranges and other citrus fruits contain high levels of citric acid, which can be difficult for cats to process. Aside from the citric acid levels, the essential oils found in citrus fruits are toxic to cats. Ingesting oranges can lead to gastrointestinal upset, including stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

fresh orange fruits on wooden table
Image Credit: Nitr, Shutterstock

Why Are Oranges Dangerous for Cats?

The primary reason oranges are problematic for cats is that cats lack a specific enzyme called glucuronyl transferase, which helps break down some medicines and toxins efficiently. As a result, the ingestion of citrus fruits can lead to irritation in a cat’s digestive system. Furthermore, the essential oils present in oranges, such as limonene and linalool, are toxic to cats and can cause serious health issues.

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How Can Cats Get Vitamin C?

Oranges are a good source of vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient for humans, but cats produce enough of it naturally themselves. Unlike humans, cats have the ability to synthesize vitamin C in their bodies through the glucose metabolism process. Their bodies can produce the necessary amounts of this vitamin, making supplementation unnecessary. Because of this, it is not crucial for cat owners to provide their feline friends with vitamin C supplements or citrus fruits.

The Dangerous Compounds in Oranges

Feeding oranges to cats is not recommended but most of the toxic components are contained in the peel, seeds, stems and leaves. The flesh of the fruit does not usually present as much risk. Compounds contained in the oranges called psoralens can result in an upset to a cat’s digestive system, causing discomfort and gastrointestinal issues such as salivation, diarrhea and vomiting. They are also implicated in skin irritation.

As mentioned earlier, the essential oils found especially in orange peel can irritate a cat’s skin and respiratory system, leading to skin reactions, coughing, and difficulty breathing. These risks are significant and should be avoided by keeping oranges and other citrus fruits out of your cat’s reach.

close up of an orange on a tree
Image by: Lulucmy, Unsplash

Signs to Look Out For

If your cat accidentally consumes oranges or any other citrus fruit, there are certain signs to watch for that may indicate a negative reaction. These signs include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, and lethargy. If you observe any of these signs, contact your veterinarian promptly. They will be able to provide the necessary guidance and treatment to alleviate your cat’s discomfort.


Do Cats Like Oranges?

There will always be exceptions to the rule but most cats are not interested in eating oranges. In fact citrus peels are often recommended as a cat deterrent as they don’t like the pungent smell. Hopefully your cat will not want to entertain itself by finding oranges to eat but to remove the possibility, keep oranges and other citrus fruits out of reach.

Can Oranges Kill My Cat?

In most cases, consuming a small amount of orange will not be a significant problem to a healthy adult cat. Most of the reports of toxicity in cats come from flea shampoos containing d-limolene and not eating actual whole oranges. However, it’s important to note that every cat is unique, and their reactions to ingesting oranges can vary. While the chances of fatality are low, severe allergic reactions or complications can occur. It’s crucial to prioritize your cat’s well-being and seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect any adverse effects.

A peeled orange on the wooden background
Image by: Ahanov Michael, Shutterstock

Are Other Citrus Fruits Dangerous to Cats?

Oranges are not the only citrus fruits that can pose risks to cats. Other citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and grapefruits, also contain high levels of citric acid, psoralens and essential oils. As a result, these fruits can have similar adverse effects on a cat’s digestive system and overall health. It is best to avoid feeding any citrus fruits to your cat and choose alternative, cat-safe treats.

What Other Fruits Should Be Avoided?

While cats do not require fruits in their diet, some fruits are safe for occasional consumption in small amounts. However, it’s important to remember that even safe fruits should be offered as occasional treats and not become a significant part of a cat’s diet. Fruits such as grapes, raisins, cherries with their stone in and tamarinds should be avoided altogether, as they can be toxic to cats and cause severe health issues.

Image by: Andy M., Pixbay

Are There Fruits That Are Safe for Cats?

As mentioned, there are a few fruits that are considered safe for consumption for cats despite their carnivorous diet. Some of these fruits include apples, bananas, blueberries, watermelon, and even strawberries!

Remember to feed these fruits in small amounts and only as an occasional treat. Not all cats may enjoy or react the same toward these fruits, so be sure to observe how your cat responds to these fruits before feeding them routinely. There is no need to feed your cat fruit and if they don’t seem interested then that is fine too!


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, cats should not eat oranges or any other citrus fruits. Their digestive systems are not adapted to process the high levels of citric acid and essential oils present in these fruits. Feeding oranges to cats can lead to gastrointestinal issues, allergic reactions, and other health complications. Instead of citrus fruits, focus on providing your cat with a balanced, protein-rich diet that meets their specific nutritional needs. If you have any concerns about your cat’s diet or suspect they have ingested oranges, consult your veterinarian for guidance and support!

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Featured Image Credit: Steven Lee, Unsplash

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