Can Cats Eat Oranges?

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Can cats eat oranges? Oranges are a sweet fruit that is low in calories, fat-free, and rich in vitamin C. If you are eating oranges and your cat seems interested in trying some, you may want to know this. People can eat oranges, but is it safe for cats to eat them?

The short answer is no. Citrus of any kind is not suitable for cats. Citrus fruits are considered toxic to cats due to the essential oils contained in oranges. As always, you must consult your veterinarian before sharing any human food with your favorite feline.
Let’s dive into what you need to know about oranges and cats.

What is Orange?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) indicates.

Scientific Name: Citrus sinensis
Family: Rutaceae
Toxicity: Toxic to Dogs, Toxic to Cats, Toxic to Horses
Toxic Principles: Essential oils and psoralens
Clinical Signs: Vomiting, diarrhea, depression; potential dermatitis. Fruit is edible, skins and plant material can cause problems.

Why Are Oranges Bad for Cats?

While oranges contain high levels of vitamin C, which may be beneficial for humans, it is a different story altogether for cats.

The essential oils contained in oranges are toxic to cats and should therefore be absolutely avoided. A cat that has eaten an orange peel may suffer from very severe diarrhea. They may also start vomiting because the citric acid in oranges can irritate their stomach. Oranges are also rich in sugar, which cats really don’t need, as well as acids that can cause digestive discomfort. Finally, there is psoralen, which is a toxic compound that causes photosensitivity.

Photo by Sahand Babali

What if My Cat Eats an Orange?

First, if you notice that your cat has eaten an orange, monitor their behavior and see if they show any immediate signs of discomfort.

If you notice a lot of vomiting, call your veterinarian immediately. They can ask about the symptoms the cat is exhibiting and advise if you need to seek emergency care immediately.
Orange peel contains more essential oils than the fruit inside, so try to make a note of which part of the orange your cat ate. The more information you can provide to your veterinarian, the better.

Although oranges are considered toxic to cats, it is reassuring to know that most cats show an aversion to any citrus fruit at first, so your cat’s chances of eating an orange are on the low side.

Cats Like Oranges

Signs That Your Cat Has Eaten an Orange

Whether you find your cat nibbling on an orange peel or they drop a piece of fruit to escape, you need to monitor them closely for any signs of citrus poisoning. Usually, the symptoms are related to the digestive system, but severe poisoning can also affect the nervous system. Your cat may also develop an allergic skin reaction to a piece of orange by touching a part of their body.
Symptoms may include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Depression
  • Fear of light

The severity of your cat’s reaction will depend on how many oranges have been ingested and which part, as the peel contains more toxic compounds than the fruit. Death due to orange poisoning is rare. Most cats can fully recover with prompt treatment, so if you notice any of these reactions, be sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Do Cats Like Oranges?

Most cats do not like oranges. Cats have different taste buds than humans, and they are not attracted to sweeter flavors. Felines hate the smell of citrus, and oranges and orange peels are toxic to cats. If your cat consumes citrus essential oils, they may make your cat uncomfortable.

Cats are exclusively carnivorous, which means their bodies are designed to eat meat and get all the nutrients they need from meat sources. Cats’ digestive systems are designed to digest meat only, and they may have difficulty properly digesting any other food group. In addition, cats are not attracted to fruit as a food because it is not part of their diet.

Of course, there will still be cats that try to eat oranges. Kittens and more curious felines may put a slice in their mouths to gauge taste or texture. Therefore, it is best to keep the orange out of the cat’s reach.

Can Cats Drink Orange Juice?

Your cat should not drink orange juice. The smell of orange naturally repels cats, and this smell will be very noticeable in a glass of orange juice. However, your cat is unlikely to try orange juice, given the strong citrus odor it gives off.

Final Thoughts

Has your cat ever accidentally eaten an orange? Please tell us in the comments below!

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