can apple cider vinegar hurt cats?
Cat Food and Hydration

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe for Cats to Drink?

Apple cider vinegar for cats is a natural home remedy. It is used by holistic healers and pet owners alike to cure Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), get rid of worms, kill fleas, stop diarrhea, and more. This ‘suggests’ that apple cider vinegar (ACV) should be highly beneficial for feline health.

In an interview with PetMD, Dr. Cailin Heinze (assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine) stated that 1-2 teaspoons of diluted apple cider vinegar would not adversely affect a healthy cat. However, exceeding this dosage could cause sickness due to the high acidity in ACV. Apple cider vinegar is unsafe for cats with kidney problems.

If your adult feline is not in good health, ACV should never be consumed orally. Although ACV is often discussed on online forums as a cure-all for a broad spectrum of internal and external health issues, most of the evidence is just anecdotal. There is no scientific proof that it really works.

Can Cats Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?

ACV is safe for a healthy adult cat (not a kitten or geriatric cat) to drink in moderation when diluted with water. If your cat drinks neat ACV from the bottle, she’s far more likely to become sick.

Earth Clinic stated that cats can safely drink apple cider vinegar when it’s based on these weight guidelines:

How Much Apple Cider Vinegar Can Cats Drink?

Cat’s WeightHow Much ACV?
Under 4 lbs:5 drops
4 – 6 lbs:1/8 teaspoon
7 – 14 lbs:1/4 teaspoon
15 – 20 lbs:1/2 teaspoon

A cat with a hardy disposition may be able to tolerate more ACV. However, other cats will struggle to drink far less. It varies, depending on how robust your pet’s stomach is.

An alternative way of introducing ACV is topically or as a spray. This can be an effective, albeit strong-smelling, remedy, for common skin conditions in cats.

If your cat has problems with her kidneys, she must avoid ACV at all costs. Any potential health benefits will be heavily outweighed by the risks posed by ACV’s acidity.

can cats drink apple cider vinegar

What Happens When a Cat Drinks Apple Cider Vinegar?

ACV is highly acidic and must be diluted before being offered to your cat. Once consumed, ACV can benefit your cat. The vinegar enters the gut and attacks any bacteria in the digestive tract.

ACV does not discriminate between good and bad bacteria. It attacks indiscriminately. This means that your cat could end up worse off than when they started. This is also why a cat with kidney problems must steer clear of ACV. This ingredient can be fatal to such felines.

When a cat’s kidneys are not functioning to full capacity, they’re unable to break down regular acids. ACV magnifies the acid content in their gut considerably.

This will leave a cat in considerable pain, and it could even speed up kidney failure. Cats with kidney disease are prescribed a specialist diet by a vet for a reason.

Health Benefits for Apple Cider Vinegar for Cats

We have established that apple cider vinegar can be dangerous, and most cats dislike the taste. Why, in this case, does it have such a positive reputation?

Apple cider vinegar is believed to offer felines several health benefits and boosts. If consumed orally, it is claimed that apple cider vinegar:

  • Treats urinary tract infections (UTI) and bladder stones
  • Cures constipation
  • Helps a cat to breathe more easily
  • Kills internal parasites (worms)

That’s not all, either. ACV is also believed to clear up skin and infections in cats. Many pet owners use ACV for the following problems:

  • Eradicating fleas without using medicated drops
  • Easing irritation and skin conditions
  • Treating infections around the ears and eyes

ACV should not be a permanent addition to your cat’s diet. Use ACV to treat a particular ailment and stop when the symptoms cease. There is no guarantee that ACV will be effective.

1) Urinary Tract Infections

The bacteria-destroying properties of ACV are most beneficial when your cat has a UTI. ACV will, theoretically, resolve this problem without medication.

We say theoretically because, as is a common theme with most home remedies, this has not been proven by medical science. The theory is sound, though.

Bacteria in your pet’s urethra cause UTIs and bladder stones. The acid found in ACV destroys bacteria and breaks down the solidified bladder stones.

It’s not difficult to understand why some pet owners believe that ACV resolved their cat’s bladder issues. It’s likely to be effective and worth trying in the first instance.

All the same, you should investigate why your cat develops persistent UTIs, if this is the case. ACV will ease symptoms, but not prevent the causes.

2) Constipation

As ACV is so acidic, it is an irritant for a cat’s gut. In some respects, this is a bad thing. After all, an irritated digestive tract will struggle to keep food down.

If your cat is constipated, however, this irritation may work in her favor. ACV can be used as a laxative for constipated cats.

Be careful, however. It’s easy to give too much ACV to a feline. This will cross the line from curing constipation in cats to causing diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems.

That’s a different, and potentially troublesome, scenario. If in doubt, use a different natural laxative for your cat. Tinned pumpkin is always an effective choice.

3) Breathing Problems

It is believed that ACV is beneficial for cats with respiratory diseases, including bronchitis and asthma. The theory is that ACV will destroy any bacteria contributing to your cat’s ill health.

There’s lots of anecdotal evidence all over the web. What you won’t find, however, is any scientific backing. Was it ACV that cured a feline cold or did the virus just run its course?

There is no evidence that ACV helps with feline asthma. The belief is that it allows cats to breathe easier. Your pet may react poorly to ACV, though. Asthmatic cats have enough to worry about. Causing undue and avoidable stress is unnecessary.

Also, there is a risk of ACV interfering with the absorption of prescribed medication. Its best avoided if your cat has a pre-existing health concern.

4) Internal and External Feline Parasites

ACV is often described as a natural remedy for fleas. This is half-true. It certainly deters fleas, as they hate the taste and smell.

If your cat already has a flea infestation, ACV will not kill them. The fleas will hop off your cat and look for a different meal. Be warned as this could be you. Cat fleas do bite humans. ACV can keep fleas away, but if they’ve arrived, use a formal medicinal treatment.

Where ACV does thrive is as a remedy for worms and internal parasites. If your cat consumes ACV orally, these parasites will be destroyed.

5) Skin Conditions

ACV is believed to clear skin issues by removing allergens. This, in theory, means that your cat will not struggle with itching or acne.

Bathing and rinsing a cat’s hot spots or itchy skin patches with ACV should see results. Just mix a ratio of ACV and warm water to a 50:50 ratio, and dab away.

ACV eases the symptoms of these problems, but it doesn’t cure them. If your cat experiences allergic flare-ups, you’ll need to find out what causes them to happen.

6) Ear Infections

If your cat has an ear or eye infection, ACV can act as a natural antibiotic. All you need to do is mix up a 50:50 ratio of ACV and warm water.

You can apply this concoction to your cat’s eye or ear using cotton wool. Just add the solution and gently dab. In the case of ears, you could also use drops. Five will typically do it. Be gentle when dealing with your cat’s eye infection, though. ACV in the eye will be very sore for your cat.

Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar for Cats

We mention that there are risks to giving your cat apple cider vinegar. That much is unavoidable. Some of the potential side effects that your pet may experience include:

  • ACV is a laxative
  • Stomach ulcers and digestive complaints.
  • She’ll need to drink plenty of water
  • If applied topically, ACV can burn and blister sensitive feline skin

Weigh up and the pros and cons of apple cider vinegar for cats. It’s not a decision to take lightly, as the consequences can be severe.

Also remember, if you are going to use ACV, a little goes a long way. If you get the dosage wrong, you could harm your cat. It’s advisable to start small and test for a reaction.

Do Cats Like the Taste of Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is not appealing to cats. Felines are driven by their senses of taste and smell. As a result, they’re unlikely to accept something with an unattractive flavor and scent.

Never force your cat to consume ACV. If your cat won’t accept it, you’ll need to find another way to introduce it to her diet.

apple cider vinegar for cats dosage

How to Give Cats Apple Cider Vinegar Orally

If you wish to introduce apple cider vinegar into your cat’s diet, you’ll have to be patient. Waving a teaspoon under your cat’s nose will rarely elicit a positive response. The two easiest ways to get apple cider vinegar into your cat’s body, as per Petnet, are:

  1. Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of ACV with tuna juice or chicken broth. Add this to your cat’s wet food or drizzle over their kibble. The tuna or chicken will mask the smell and taste of the ACV.
  2. Pour one cup of water, and mix in two teaspoons of ACV. Dip your cat’s paw in this mixture and wait for her to lick it off.

Of course, you’ll have to ask yourself if this is worth it. There is little scientific proof that consuming ACV benefits cats. Make a judgment call based on your views and the needs of your pet.

How is Apple Cider Vinegar Applied Externally?

Alternatively, you can make a topical application of apple cider vinegar for cats. This will be more valuable than consuming it when tackling skin conditions.

Remember, ACV is highly acidic. It will not suit the skin of every cat. It is advisable to perform a test before starting a full regime. Dab some of your mix on a patch of your pet’s skin and wait 24 hours.

If there is no adverse reaction after this time, proceed as planned. If your cat’s skin burns or blisters, she is sensitive to ACV. Keep it far away in the future.

If you wish to use ACV topically, you’ll need a bowl of warm water. An ACV topical mix contains the vinegar and water using a ratio of 50:50. Using a soft flannel, rub this mixture all over your cat. They can lick the ACV from their fur too, as it’s sufficiently diluted.

It’s also possible to mix ACV with water, and create a spray bottle. This is arguably the simplest method, and it also doubles up as a cleaning product.

Can a Cat be Bathed in Apple Cider Vinegar?

Applying ACV straight to the skin is a strict no-no. Your cat may suffer permanent skin damage. If you’re applying apple cider vinegar to your pet, it must be done in small doses.

Follow the instructions (as stated above) and apply the ACV by hand. This way, your cat’s skin will absorb a safe amount of the product. Also, you can be cautious about where the ACV is used.

If an ACV solution is applied without delicacy, it can be risky. This is a problem when cleaning the eyes and ears. Gentle hands and manageable doses are crucial to the effectiveness of ACV.

Is the Brand of Apple Cider Vinegar Important?

You should always look for the best brand of ACV. A cheaper bottle could do more harm than good to your pet’s health. Organic produce is always best. If it’s cold-pressed then so much the better.

You should also avoid ACV that has been mixed with other herbs or ingredients. Even theoretically cat-friendly ingredients may not mix well with ACV in your cat’s gut.

ACV will always be a controversial subject among animal health experts. Holistic healers swear that it’s a cure-all of for much of what ails your cat. The science is yet to bear this out.