Pet Wellness Guides > Can Cats Eat Oranges? - Pet Insurance Review

Can Cats Eat Oranges?

Posted: 11/06/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Uncategorized

There’s nothing like biting into a juicy orange on a hot day or after a workout. Not only are they delicious, oranges offer a ton of health benefits for humans. But can cats eat oranges, or are they toxic?

Key Points

  • Oranges are a healthy snack for people but not for cats.
  • Oranges contain phytochemicals that are very toxic to cats.
  • Cats that have ingested some orange can experience GI upset, trembling, seizures and light sensitivity. 
  • Cats make their own vitamin C and do not need to eat citrus fruits to get enough of this immune booster. 

can cats eat oranges?

Are Oranges Bad for Cats?

While oranges are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals for humans, they also contain phytochemicals that are very toxic to cats:

Essential Oils

Essential oils are what give oranges their amazing scent. But these oils can also cause skin inflammation in cats. In fact, the limonene and linalool in citrus rinds can cause acute (sudden) dermatitis. This is especially true for cat breeds who are prone to allergies such as the Benagl and Siamese. And it can happen with the slightest touch to these breeds.

Essential oils can also impact a cat’s central nervous system causing trembling and even seizures.

Citric Acid

While essential oils give oranges their familiar scent, citric acid is what gives them their tart flavor. Cats are also incredibly sensitive to citric acid, and should they ingest just a tiny amount, it can cause immediate gastric upset including vomiting and diarrhea. And those cats who already suffer from a digestive disorder will be more prone to GI upset.

Psoralens and Furocoumarins

And finally, oranges contain psoralens and furocoumarins, phytochemicals that can cause photosensitivity in cats. Cats who develop this condition are extremely sensitive to sunlight and can actually experience sunburn-like injuries, including redness and swelling. In turn, this pain and discomfort causes them to itch and claw at their own skin, which can create pen wounds and subsequent infections.

These toxic phytochemicals are on all oranges, including mandarin oranges, blood oranges, and naval.

In addition to the juicy flesh being unsafe for your cat, the seeds, peel and leaves are also unsafe, as these parts of the orange contain even more of the harmful essential oils. So it’s important when you eat oranges to immediately throw the seeds and peel in the garbage.

And it’s not just oranges that are harmful to cats, all citrus fruits including grapefruit, lemons and limes are toxic as well, as they all contain the same essential oils.  

Most cats won’t go near citrus fruits or oils because they do not like the strong smell. It’s as if nature is helping them stay away from something that is toxic. In fact, that’s why you’ll see orange-scented cat removal sprays sold in pet stores and online. These sprays help keep cats away from plants and furniture.

My Cat Ate a Piece of Orange – What Do I Do?

As we mentioned, most cats HATE the very smell of citrus fruits and will not go near them. But there will always be those weird cats who eat things most cats won’t. If your cat is one of those and eats a tiny piece of flesh, most likely she’ll be fine or get a little tummy ache. Watch to see if she experiences any vomiting or diarrhea. If she does and it doesn’t let up, call your vet.

If for some reason your cat actually likes the taste of orange and eats quite a bit and even some of the orange peel,  you may see more severe symptoms, possibly even neurological problems. 

Here are the symptoms to look out for if your cat eats an orange:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Skin irritation
  • Depression
  • Photosensitivity (being sensitive to light)
  • Seizure

If your cat shows any of these symptoms, call your vet right away. If they are closed, call the nearest emergency vet clinic and prepare to take your fur baby in for an exam and possible treatment.

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Safe Fruits to Feed Your Cat

Can cats eat oranges? No, oranges and all citrus fruits are highly toxic to cats and can make them very sick. If you want to share some fruit with your kitty, the following are considered safe:

  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Apples
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapples
  • Melons

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Some Considerations

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they can really only get the nutrients they need from animal protein and fat. Dogs are different and can get nutrients from fruits and veggies. 

This is to say that while it is fine to offer your cats a bit of fruit, do so only in moderation. You want to be sure most of her caloric intake is from her regular food so she gets the proper nutrition.

Also, feeding too much fruit can cause weight gain. And it is not advised for those cats that are diabetic.

When feeding any new food to your fur baby, it’s a good idea to speak with your veterinarian first.

Final Thoughts

Can cats eat oranges? Absolutely NOT. The good news is, cats can make their own vitamin C, unlike humans. So they aren’t really missing out on that. If, for some reason, your cat does happen to eat a small bite of orange, don’t panic as they will most likely experience only a slight stomach upset.

Luckily, most cats stay far away from oranges and other citrus fruits because the smell repels them. But to be safe, keep all oranges and citrus fruits away from where your cats can bite them.

What’s Healthy and Safe For Cats?

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The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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