Oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits are considered superfoods for us, humans, considering their amazing nutritional profile.
And as a cat parent, you must be thinking that these tropical fruits could be a great addition to your cat’s diet. But, can cats eat lemon?
And just in case they can, do they even need these fruits in the first place?
At times, with our desire to provide as much as we can for the welfare of our felines, we tend to overlook things the way they are.
And instead, we’d rather see them the way we want to just to meet our expectations. Sadly, by doing this, we are just putting our cats in danger, instead of getting them off the hook.
On the other hand, by asking questions, and by not being swayed by the hype and our individual biases, we become better advocates of our feline companions.
As their pet parents, we must be their voice, shields, and keepers. We should always keep them safe, sound, and loved.
And one of the most important things for us to remember about cats and human foods is that not because it’s great for us, humans, it’s also safe for our pets. There are reasons why cat foods and human foods are called as such, respectively.
Unlike people and dogs, cats are obligate carnivores. They are not omnivores. This means that majority of their diet comes from meats.
Their bodies were not designed, and have not evolved to properly digest plant materials the way that we, humans, and other omnivores do.
Also Read: Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe for Cats?
Can Cats Eat Lemon?
No, cats can’t eat lemons. Oranges, grapefruit, limes, lemons, and other citrus fruits are toxic to cats. When taken in small amounts, lemons can cause diarrhea and other signs of gastrointestinal upset.
However, if consumed in huge quantities, lemons can cause poisoning in cats, which can even be fatal. Hence, you should always keep these fruits away from your cat’s reach at all times.
The good thing, though, is that you might not even need to hide these from them because the strong citrus scents will naturally shoo cats away.
This is also why there are cat owners who even suggest rubbing lemon peel into cords to prevent felines from biting or getting near them.
However, while this is done with good intentions, we don’t recommend it because of the risks involved; and some other safer alternatives or deterrents could address this concern.
Or at the end of the day, your cat might just need extra minutes of play for them to use up their energies and hunting instinct.
Moreover, lemons are also more acidic than other citrus fruits. Thus, if your cat eats lemons, there is a higher chance that he will experience a bad case of diarrhea, as well as episodes of vomiting, and stomach pains.
Eating plenty of lemons can also cause depression, photosensitivity, low blood pressure, and even death in cats.
Why Are Lemons Toxic to Cats?
All parts of the fruit – its seeds, peel, and pulp – are toxic to cats, and this is primarily because of the essential oils and toxins that they contain. In particular, there are three toxic compounds present in citrus fruits, and these are limonene, linalool, and psoralen.
The essential oils called limonene are the ones responsible for giving lemons and other citrus fruits their distinct scent. Cats are extremely sensitive to this substance, unlike most dogs that can tolerate a small amount of limonene.
D-limonene is also a common ingredient in a lot of dog shampoos and grooming products, which is why we should only use cat products for our cats.
Limonene is also present in cosmetic products, cleaning products, and even flavoring compounds. So, it’s just right to keep all these products away from your cats.
Aside from limonene, linalool is also another compound that gives lemons their citrusy scent, and it can also be used as an insecticide.
The presence of psoralens in the cat’s system can affect his DNA and cause mutations. And while this substance can treat skin disorders in humans, such as Psoriasis, it can’t do the same thing with cats.
In fact, psoralen is phototoxic in cats. This means that felines can suffer skin burns when we apply products that contain psoralens on their skin and expose them to the sun after.
What Happens If Your Cat Eats Lemons?
With their acidity alone, the ingestion of even a small amount of lemons or lemon peels can already cause significant gastrointestinal distress in cats.
And the severity of the symptoms will still depend on the amount of lemons consumed, as well as the biology of your cat’s body.
The major problem in the consumption of lemons in cats is poisoning. Although toxicity can occur when a cat consumes huge amounts of lemons, it’s still not enough reason for any cat parent to gamble their cats’ health by giving them even a tiny portion of this fruit.
And as mentioned above, other problems that your cat may face when he consumes lemons are gastrointestinal upset, skin irritation, photosensitivity, liver failure, and even death.
What is Lemon Poisoning?
Lemon poisoning can occur as a result of the ingestion of toxins and essential oils present in lemons and other citrus fruits.
That’s why if you have a cat in your household, it’s best not to eat lemons in their presence, or at least hide these fruits from their sight and out of their reach.
While your family can enjoy the taste and benefits of lemons, your cat cant – and worse these fruits can even be the cause of his untimely, yet very much preventable demise.
If you caught your cat nibbling on a lemon, it’s best to take him to the vet immediately together with the lemon or even a portion of it.
Bringing a piece of the lemon or the lemon tree with you can help the veterinarian in making a more conclusive diagnosis as he can test these parts for the presence of toxins, and other potential substances that can be harmful to your cat.
You can expect the vet to ask a few questions, do a physical exam, run some blood works, and other routine tests such as urinalysis. The blood chemistry results and blood count can help your vet determine the type of toxins causing your cat’s symptoms.
You can also expect the vet to test your cat’s vomit and stool. And he may also do a neurological test to assess your cat’s reflexes, coordination, and other neurologic functions.
The severity of your cat’s symptoms may vary depending on the amount and the specific type of lemon tree that he ate. And of course, the prognosis can also be influenced by how soon your cat receives medical interventions.
Symptoms of Lemon Poisoning in Cats
Below is a list of symptoms of lemon poisoning that you should watch out for:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Irritation around your cat’s mouth and gums
- Excessive drooling
- Body weakness
- Skin irritation
- Cold limbs
- Low blood pressure
- Liver failure
- Collapse, and eventually death
Your cat may also recoil that can only signify that he is in pain. And you may also notice other sudden behavioral changes.
If you notice any worrisome symptoms aside from the ones mentioned, you should also consult your vet right away.
Treatment and Recovery from Lemon Poisoning
Toxins act fast, so we should act faster. And though, your cat’s prognosis and recovery will still vary on his body, it’s still clear that prompt intervention can go a long way in getting a favorable outcome.
Again, as mentioned above, if you notice that your cat ate even a small amount of lemon, take him to the vet right away. Or if you didn’t see him eating the fruit or any of its parts, simply act base on your intuition.
Cats normally hide or retreat when they are sick, or they may act differently. Once you notice a sudden change in your cat’s behavior, consider that a red flag already.
Once you notice any worrisome symptoms, take him to the nearest vet immediately. The initial treatment goal is to remove the toxins out of your cat’s body.
And this can have favorable result if you were able to bring your cat to the vet as soon as you noticed him eating lemons.
The procedure to remove the toxins out of his stomach is called gastric lavage, and this is followed by the administration of activated charcoal. The charcoal will help remove any remaining toxins inside out of your cat’s gastrointestinal tract.
The vet may then treat your cat based on his symptoms. And since vomiting and diarrhea are two of the common signs of lemon poisoning, you can expect the vet to administer intravenous fluids for faster rehydration.
For phototoxicity, your vet may advise you to keep your cat indoors until she has fully recuperated. Other actions will basically fall under supportive care to help your cat recover and regain her strength as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
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