Most cats are indifferent to the taste of fruits. Cats have limited taste buds and cannot taste sweetness. Couple this with a natural feline aversion to citrus scents and oranges will largely be avoided.
Oranges, especially the peel, are toxic to cats. The acidity of this fruit will upset a cat’s stomach, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Oranges are filled with essential oils that adversely affect felines. Your cat risks citrus poisoning or ingesting too much Vitamin into its body.
Keep your cat away from oranges as there is nothing to gain by feeding this fruit to a feline. Most cats will show no interest in eating oranges.
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Can Cats Eat Oranges?
Cats are largely immune to the appeal of fruit, as they cannot taste sweetness. As per the Journal of Anatomy, this is because adult cats have just 800 taste buds. Humans, for comparison, have up to 8,000.
In addition, oranges are citrus fruit. Most felines loathe the scent of citrus. Orange is less offensive than lemon, but still unappealing. Some homeowners use orange peels to keep local cats out of their yard or to stop cats from scratching leather furniture. Most felines automatically retreat at the smell of citrus.
This disdain is a relief as oranges are a strict no-no food for cats. These fruits are toxic to cats and must never be offered or eaten. Oranges are packed with acid and essential oils.
Cats imitate human behavior. If your cat sees you eating an orange, it will show interest. You may be faced with pleading eyes, asking to share your treat. Stay strong in the face of such urgings.
Some cats may also treat oranges as a toy. These fruits are the perfect shape and size for a cat to use as a ball. Play can lead to curiosity, and the cat may investigate the fruit with its mouth. It’s best to keep oranges far away from cats at all times.
For the avoidance of doubt, all of the above also applies to orange juice. Never allow a cat to drink orange juice, even if it has a cold. The Vitamin C in orange juice will not aid recovery. All the same, toxicity is present and the drink is packed with tooth-rotting sugar.
What Happens if a Cat Eats Orange?
If a cat consumes a slice of orange, it is unlikely to escape unscathed. If lucky, it will only experience an upset stomach.
Oranges are a strong source of Vitamin C. This is why humans consume them, and drink orange juice. It fights off cold and ‘flu bugs. Cats’ bodies automatically generate Vitamin C, so they do need any more.
This is important to know, because Vitamin C is acidic. Essentially, the more Vitamin C a food contains, the more acidic it is. This means that orange will upset a cat’s stomach lining. Chronic vomiting and diarrhea will follow.
If your cat is unlucky, it may even develop Vitamin C poisoning. This will lead to an excess of calcium in the body. Painful bladder stones and urinary tract infections will then follow.
Citrus poisoning is a slightly different concern to Vitamin C poisoning, but just as dangerous. The condition is named as it arises when cats eat citrus fruits, especially the peels. Such foods contain the essential oils linalool and limonene, which irritate a cat. Symptoms of citrus poisoning include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Excessive drooling
- Muscular weakness and trembling
- Lethargy and depression
- Sensitivity to sunlight
While citrus poisoning is rarely fatal, it can lead to a litany of secondary concerns. These include heat stroke, dehydration, and complications arising from inappetence. Urgent treatment should be sought.
It is also possible that a cat is allergic to oranges. As your cat will rarely encounter oranges, there is no way of knowing.
The warning signs of an allergy are similar to those of citrus poisoning. Your cat may also experience shortness of breath. Skin issues, such as rashes and hives, may also arise.
Allergy symptoms in cats are usually temporary. They typically run their course in an hour or two. Do not take any chances, though. Allergic reactions can still be dangerous, especially if they impact breathing.
My Cat Ate An Orange
Although most cats are indifferent to oranges, there are exceptions to every rule. Some cats may sneak an orange from a fruit bowl or pluck one from a tree. If the cat can move past the smell, it may taste the orange. Cats explore the world with their mouths.
It’s also possible that your cat ate orange peel from a neighborhood yard. If a neighbor uses orange peel to deter feline elimination, other animals may have investigated it. The scent of these animals may overpower the citrus and pique a cat’s interest.
If your cat gained access to an orange and began to eat, do not ignore it. Naturally, the first step is to immediately remove the remnants of the orange from the cat.
How much did the cat eat? Did it eat any of the peel, or just the fruit itself? With luck, the cat will have taken a small bite then spat it out. Cats cannot taste the sweetness of orange, so will likely find it distasteful.
Your vet may ask you to bring the cat into surgery as a precaution. Alternatively, you may be advised to observe for 24 hours and see how your cat reacts. You will be looking out for signs of toxicity.
If your cat has been poisoned by the orange, it will need treatment. This will typically take the form of an intravenous drip. The toxins found in the orange will be flushed out of your cat’s body. This will usually require an overnight stay at the surgery.
If you capture your cat eating an orange early, your vet may recommend inducing vomiting. This is typically only impactful within an hour of consumption. It could expel the orange from your cat before it is digested. Just remember, oranges may make a cat vomit anyway.
Only induce vomiting if recommended to do so. Most vets prefer to use drugs. As per the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, the muscle relaxant Xylanin safely induces feline vomiting. If you are told to induce vomiting in a cat, follow these steps:
- Stir two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide in water
- Apply this solution to a syringe
- Calm your cat with petting and reassurance
- Open your cat’s mouth. The cat may resist this, so be careful. This is why a syringe is essential for rapid delivery
- Stand back – your cat may soon start to vomit
If the cat does not vomit within ten minutes, repeat the process. You can do this a maximum of three times. Inducing vomiting is unlikely to be the only treatment required. Your vet will likely still want to run tests. It is a way of potentially minimizing orange toxicity, though.
Cat-Friendly Alternatives to Oranges
If you have a cat that enjoys fruit, there are safe alternatives to oranges. The best solution is watermelon. This food is largely devoid of health benefits, but it is calorie neutral. In addition, watermelon is almost completely water-based, which aids hydration.
You could offer your cat a small amount of strawberries or blueberries. Be mindful of the sugar content of these fruits. Your cat should only eat a small quantity to avoid weight gain. The scent of berries often drives cats wild, though. More than the taste, in most cases.
On a hot day, a chopped frozen banana may be a good treat for cat. Again, be mindful of sugar and carbs. Bananas should not be an everyday food, and your cat should never eat a whole one. The high potassium content is good for felines, though.
You could offer your cat small, diced chunks of apple or pear. These fruits must be skinned, as the peel can contain harmful elements. More importantly, pips and seeds must be removed. These contain arsenic and are instantly toxic to cats.
Overall, all fruit is best avoided by cats. Most felines will know this and steer clear, showing no interest. If you have one of the rare exceptions, stick to these approved foods and treat sparingly.
Protecting Cats from Oranges
If your cat has proximity to oranges, there is always a risk of something going awry. It’s unlikely, but possible. This means that you should always take a safety-first approach to oranges.
These fruits should be considered as dangerous as chocolate or grapes. You would not leave such things lying around, where a curious cat could ingest them. You’ll need to be equally vigilant with oranges.
Oranges in the Home
If you enjoy oranges yourself, you don’t need to outlaw them from your diet. Just be mindful about storage. For example, do not leave a bowl of oranges on a living room coffee table. At best, the smell will upset your cat. At worst, it will eat them.
Leave oranges in a secure location, ideally a kitchen, and cover them where possible. Clingfilm is fine – you can always punch holes for ventilation. The key is to prevent easy access. Your cat is unlikely to go to any effort to track down oranges.
If you have orange trees in your backyard, fence them off as best you can. This is advisable for all trees. Cats love to climb but are less keen on clambering down from a high vantage point. It is quite common for cats to get stuck in trees and to require rescuing.
In addition, if the cat climbs a tree, it may knock oranges off branches. This will activate hunting instinct. The cat will follow the orange’s movement and pounce upon it. The cat may then eat, as it seeks reward for a successful hunt.
Ensure that your cat does not investigate oranges that fall from the tree naturally. Be vigilant about regularly collecting any fallen fruit. This will also keep other pests out of your garden.
If you live close to wild growing oranges, there is only so much protection you can offer. Free-roaming cats have a mind of their own. Felines love to explore their surroundings.
You really only have two options. Keep your cat indoors or hope its natural aversion to citrus will keep it safe. The former is obviously more reliable. It can take a cat a while to adapt, though.
Cats cannot, and should never, eat oranges. These fruits offer no taste appeal, no nutritional content, and make cats unwell. Keep them away from your cat and act quickly if an orange is accidentally ingested.