Can Cats Eat Oranges? What Should You Do If Your Cat Eats Oranges?

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Can Cats Eat Oranges

Can Cats Eat Oranges?

Can cats eat oranges? We bet your feline buddy keeps on staring at you while you are munching on this juicy treat. So, you might be curious if these nutritious and sweet fruits that we, humans love so much are safe for your cat to consume

Surprisingly, while oranges are healthy and safe for human consumption, it’s not the same thing for our feline buddies.

Oranges smell and taste good, and they are a rich source of Vitamin C and other nutrients. However, cats are not really fond of the scent of oranges, and they can also produce Vitamin C to meet their bodies’ needs.

Moreover, cats should not be fed orange because certain parts of this citrus fruit (peels, seeds, leaves), including its essential oils, are toxic to cats.

While the flesh part of the orange is not harmful to cats when taken in moderation, it can still be hard to separate it from other the parts and/or harmful compounds.

Hence, the risk of cross-contamination, which can lead to illness, is still high. Consequently, it’s still best not to give your cat oranges at all just to be on the safe side.

Are Oranges Safe for Cats?

No, oranges are not safe for cats since they contain essential oils and psoralens that are toxic to cats. Also, the citric acid that is present in oranges can cause stomach irritation in cats, and the essential oil can cause problems in their central nervous system.

And as mentioned earlier, cats don’t need the added Vitamin C from oranges since their bodies can already produce such vitamin, and any excess is excreted from their bodies as oxalate.

So, if you are going to introduce more Vitamin C into their system, there’s a high chance that your cat will develop a build-up of calcium oxalate stones in his urinary tract which can then cause urinary tract infections.

Moreover, since cats are obligate carnivores, they would have a hard time adapting to the human diet, which is primarily composed of meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Cats could thrive eating animal meat all day since they get all the nutrients that they need from meat, and their bodies are not used to processing fruits and vegetables.

Expectedly, if you feed your cat oranges, he may suffer from constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting as his body struggles to digest the oranges.

Also, these fruits would just take space inside your cat’s small stomach, which could have been used better for foods that they can process and benefit from. Oranges are just like empty calories for your cats that do more harm than good.

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How Can Oranges Be Toxic to Cats?

For cat owners who love oranges and who could swear for the benefits of these fruits to their health, it’s somewhat hard to absorb the fact that oranges are toxic to cats. But as they say, it is what it is, so, we just have to accept it and move on.

However, just to answer the questions running inside your mind, oranges are toxic to cats primarily because of the essential oils found in their peels. These oils include:

  • D-limonene
  • Linalool
  • Psoralens

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists these compounds as toxic to felines. Dogs and horses may also fall prey to these harmful substances, but cats are the most susceptible because of the following reasons:

  • How cats digest specific compounds, especially those in the phenol family
  • Cats are smaller than other animals
  • Cats groom themselves by licking their fur, which increases their chances of ingesting phenols

Phenols are useful for humans, and they also help repel UV radiation and parasites. However, cats cannot process phenolic compounds. Hence, phenols could build up inside a cat’s liver until they reach a certain level that could be lethal for cats.

Aside from oranges, cats can also be exposed to phenols through pine pellets or cat litters that are made of pine.

Experienced pet owners are pretty much aware that pine bark contains a high level of phenol, which is bad for cats. Using pine pellets can cause skin rashes, body weakness, and liver damage.

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Side Effects of Oranges for Cats

Common reactions of cats after eating a slice of orange include vomiting and diarrhea. There are also cases where cats develop depression from eating oranges. Your kitty may also experience photosensitivity from eating oranges and may hurt himself.

Moreover, when a part of orange comes in contact with your cat’s skin, it may cause allergic dermatitis. It may be tricky to diagnose this condition as one cat may exhibit different symptoms from another.

However, the most common ways that it manifests are through excessive itching and hair loss.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Oranges?

Cats may respond differently after eating an orange. Some may not show any symptoms at all, while some cats may exhibit symptoms of orange toxicity even if they just ate a small slice of orange.

This is especially true if cats consume the peel which contains the highest amounts of toxic essential oils.

The symptoms of orange poisoning that you have to watch out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

If you suspect that your cat has consumed oranges, observe him for the next 24 hours. Call your vet right away if you notice any of the symptoms above.

As of the moment, there are no definitive tests for orange toxicity in cats. So, your veterinarian will rely on the information that you will provide. 

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How to Treat Citrus Toxicity

If your cat’s skin was exposed to the harmful compounds of oranges, he may treat your cat’s allergic dermatitis with a bath to remove the toxins on its skin and fur. He may also prescribe a topical corticosteroid to relieve inflamed and itchy areas of the skin.

If your cat ate oranges, your vet may induce vomiting by feeding your cat a hydrogen peroxide solution. This is followed by activated charcoal that could bind the toxins inside and release them out of the body.

Final Thoughts

Although it’s unlikely that cats may develop toxicity that warrants immediate medical intervention, we could not just undermine the situation lightly.

You should also avoid giving your cat lemons, and other citrus fruits as they also contain toxic substances like essential oils and psoralens.

If you are looking for a safe, yet healthy alternative to oranges, you can give your cat small pieces of apples or potassium-rich banana as treats.

Besides, your cat hates oranges, too, and chances are they would even be deterred once they sense a stint of orange zest in the air.

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