Cats are extremely curious creatures. Thus, the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” Anything you leave unattended; they will instantly want to find out. Including that glass of orange juice, you left on the countertop.
But, can they drink your orange juice? Or eat that slice of orange you left?
Can Cats Drink Orange Juice?
Let’s make it short. No, your cat should not drink orange juices nor eat oranges. Oranges have essential oils that can be very toxic to a cat.
These are psoralens, Linalool, and limonene. These essential oils are the very compounds that are toxic to cats.
Cats do not produce glucuronyl transferase. This is what the cat’s body needs to break down these essential oils.
And, without them, their bodies won’t be able to metabolize these oils and could reach a point of toxic levels.
A menthol build-up may also happen because cats can’t break menthol down. These are because, to digest these essential oils, the body must have glucuronyl transferase and cats lack these in their digestive systems.
Oranges stand out as one example of food in the citrus family that is toxic to a cat. And, aside from lacking glucuronyl transferase, there are other also other reasons your cat should stay away from them.
According to WagWalking, citrus fruits make cats feel weak. They also cause them diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling. Citrus poisoning in cats also includes allergic dermatitis, which is a certain type of skin irritation in felines.
How about juice mixtures?
Research says psoralens are also found in orange juices, including mixtures. They can still have the same toxicity level that may cause cats to experience diarrhea and vomiting.
A considerable amount of these essential oils also gives them depression and photo sensitivity. This is very problematic especially for cats who go outdoors.
Sugar-free Orange Juice
Some cat owners may wonder whether sugar-free or sugar-less orange juice products are less dangerous than the other types of orange juices.
The presence of sugar substitutes like xylitol – which are not toxic to cats is what brings this assumption.
However, pack leader and Chief Medical Officer at Preventive Vet, Dr. Jason Nicholas emphasizes that xylitol is dangerous to some cats. Lack of reported poisonings about xylitol is the main contributor to the assumption that it is not toxic.
A small number of cat owners report such poisonings. Quite possibly because they did not witness their cat consuming the upsetting substance.
While it is only highly toxic to some cats, it has hazards that are reasons enough to keep the cats away from it.
Another sugar substitute in juice mixtures is aspartame. This metabolizes into methanol and may cause gastrointestinal problems in cats.
What To Do If Cat Drinks Orange Juice?
While we have mentioned orange juices are toxic to cats, these episodes are not serious enough for you to call 911 or the poison hotline right away. The best thing to do is to observe your cat for the next few hours.
Anything your cat takes in will take time to go through their digestive system. Most of the time, their bodies will expel them through vomiting or a quick trip to the litter box.
See to it that they are not showing manifestations or bad reactions from the orange juice.
If they have ingested a fair amount then you may notice the symptoms of citrus poisoning manifest right away.
Some may advocate about cats getting a small amount of these essential oils in this body, but I would advise to highly proceed with caution.
Better to ask for a medical opinion before taking in any advice about essential oils in cats, or just citrus fruits in general.
What Are The Signs of Citrus Poisoning?
It can be comforting to know that citrus fruit poisoning is hardly ever fatal for tabbies.
But, despite the rarity of its fatality, it is still best to bring a citrus-poisoned cat to the vet.
Rare fatalities are the worst. They can happen because of organ failure – like liver or kidney damage, a dangerous side effect.
The manifestation of symptoms and how severe they are will depend on how much orange juice the cat has consumed.
Aside from gastrointestinal upsets and weaknesses, symptoms of citrus poisoning may also include trembling and depression.
These are the early signs of possible liver damage, which is a good reason to bring them to the vet.
In addition to that, more severe cases include jaundice, lethargy, bad breath, increased thirst, frequent urination, and abdominal swelling.
Liver disease can become very severe and may involve the enlarged or diminished liver, tarry stools, and seizures and other neurological symptoms.
To make it short, with the right amount of orange juice ingested, your furball may go into a coma and die. So, don’t think twice about making a veterinary appointment just in case.
Diagnosing and Treating Citrus Poisoning
Apart from the history, you tell the vet about your cat – unusual things consumed, symptoms observed, and duration of symptoms, there is no test available to precisely check citrus poisoning.
But, they can do an endoscopy. It will involve a long, thin tube that will let the vet examine areas inside the cat body.
Endoscopy allows them to get a clearer view of the stomach cavity in detail greater than x-rays or CT scans.
The vets may recommend activated charcoal in case they see remaining toxins within the stomach. Sometimes, they may perform a stomach was for toxic flushing.
What you should be cautious about in the events of citrus poisoning is for your moggy to become dehydrated because of vomiting or diarrhea. When that happens, your vet can give extra fluids through an IV.
Liver disease caused by citrus poisoning is scary. Yes, giving in to your cat may make you feel better but you could be putting the cat’s health in danger. So, be careful in offering human foods like orange.
Hi There, AJ Oren here. I am the founder of this amazing pet blog & a passionate writer who loves helping pet owners to learn more about their pets through my articles. I am also the content manager of this blog. I have experience in pet training and behavior, sheltering, and currently working for a veterinary clinic.