Cat Nutrition

Can Cats Drink Orange Juice, and If Not, Why Can’t They Drink It?

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When we think of what cats customarily drink, water immediately comes to mind. However, some owners may wonder if a cat’s curiosity about what they are drinking makes it okay to let the cat try some of it. Most of us enjoy sharing with our pets.

Can cats drink orange juice?

Although orange juice is something we likely consider harmless, it is not harmless for cats. Oranges contain compounds that a cat’s digestive system cannot process safely.

This video shows a typical reaction that cats have to oranges, demonstrating that they are unlikely to consume anything with oranges voluntarily.

Is There a Main Reason Cats Cannot Drink Orange Juice?

There is a relatively simple reason why cats cannot drink orange juice. Oranges, and food or beverage items made from them, contain toxic essential oils.

What are these essential oils that are so bad for cats? These oils include limonene, linalool, and psoralens.

These compounds are safe for humans to ingest because our bodies produce glucuronyl transferase, which breaks down the oils.

However, cats’ bodies are unable to produce this type of enzyme. Because cats are unable to break these oils down, the oils can easily reach toxic levels. Severe effects may come about because of your cat consuming these compounds.

The essential oils may also produce menthol, which requires Glucuronyl transferase for proper breakdown. Because cats cannot break down menthol, this substance can reach toxic levels very quickly. You may have a medical emergency on your hands.

There are also a few other ingredients that are either harmful or unpleasant for your cat. Citric acid is present in orange juice, as well as all other citrus juices. Too much citric acid can cause diarrhea or vomiting, as well as damage your cat’s stomach.

Orange juice has a high sugar content, and cats lack digestive enzymes to absorb it properly. Too much sugar is a leading cause of obesity, which can also lead to diabetes. Sugar also leads to tooth decay, which can be painful for cats.

All of these reasons are why cats should not drink orange juice. Although a small sip here and there is unlikely to cause harm, there is no reason for cats to consume orange juice. Your cat will stay healthier by not drinking things that are unhealthy for it.

Are Other Citrus Fruits Besides Oranges Hazardous to Cats?

Wag! highlights the fact that all citrus fruits, not just oranges, are poisonous to cats. Citrus fruits can also be irritating to the skin, causing a condition called allergic dermatitis.

Veterinary care is recommended, even though citrus poisoning is, thankfully, only very rarely fatal. Prompt treatment will help increase your cat’s chances of making a full recovery.

Even if you don’t give or your cat doesn’t voluntarily drink orange juice, there are still ways for accidental poisoning to occur. For example, if a cup of juice spills on your cat, it may accidentally ingest some of the liquid while licking its coat.

The symptoms of poisoning from orange or other citrus fruits usually show up quite quickly. Depending on how much juice the cat has gotten, symptoms might range from mild to severe.

Diarrhea and vomiting are two of the most common symptoms. Depression and weakness are also common symptoms.

Two of the most alarming signs that cat owners might observe include drooling and trembling, which often mimic other conditions.

No test can detect poisoning from orange juice in your cat. However, your vet can diagnose citrus poisoning as the culprit based on your observations. If an unattended glass of orange juice was around, this might be the problem.

Your vet can give the cat-activated charcoal, which will absorb toxins from the orange juice. Inducing vomiting isn’t as common after ingesting juice as it is after eating fruit. A vet may perform a stomach flush to get out any remaining juice.

Dehydration isn’t as common after ingesting citrus juice because vets rarely have to resort to inducing vomiting because of juice. However, vets will still monitor cats for signs of dehydration. IV fluids will be used in this case.

One thing that’s comforting for cat owners to know is that it is very rare for citrus poisoning to be fatal. Overnight stays are rare unless the cat has had to have IV fluids given. In this case, the cat is usually released the next day.

Soft foods are often recommended for a few days afterward to prevent stomach irritation. While your cat continues to recover, it might be a good idea to use a probiotic product, especially for cats’ digestive needs.

Does Sugar-Free Orange Juice Pose Any Additional Safety Threats?

Many cat owners use sugar-free juices and wonder if this may have an additional impact. Dr. Jason Nicholas raises some interesting concerns.

Some brands of sugar-free orange juice contain xylitol, which may be poisonous to some cats. Poisoning involving this and other sugar substitutes often goes underreported, which makes many vets unaware of the significant threat for cats.

Studies involving xylitol toxicity in cats are not as commonplace as similar studies in dogs. Researchers have yet to discover why xylitol has severely sickened some cats while leaving others unaffected.

Playing it safe by keeping juice that contains xylitol out of your cat’s reach is a good idea. Even though your cat is unlikely to end up severely sickened from xylitol, better safe than sorry is a good policy to consider.

Another sugar substitute that is a possible problem for cats is aspartame. This sugar substitute metabolizes into methanol, causing many of the same issues associated with the essential oils in orange juice.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Has Had Orange Juice to Drink?

According to Christian Adams, orange juice, in and of itself, is a deterrent to most cats. Oranges and other citrus fruits have a smell that cats find unappealing.

If you catch your cat sipping from your glass of orange juice, you may want to consider keeping an eye on it for unusual behavior or symptoms for 24 hours. The chance of your cat becoming seriously ill from orange juice is relatively low.

Getting your cat to the vet as soon as possible is advisable if you notice any signs of sickness. The sooner your cat receives treatment for any severe symptoms, the sooner it will be on its way to recovery.

Are There Other Juice Drinks Cats Can Safely Have?

Phillip Miynar highlights that what juices cats can drink lacks an easy answer. Although some juices can be a nice treat for your cat, they should never be a water substitute.

Watermelon and canteloupe are both excellent juice options for cats that are not already diabetic.

Another type of fruit juice that cats commonly enjoy is apple. Juice that you allow your cat to have as a treat should be free of artificial sugars.

Check the ingredients list of prepared juice to make sure the juice contains no xylitol or aspartame. These ingredients can sicken many cats, regardless of the juice that they are used in. You may want to consider fresh-squeezed juice.

If you use a type of fruit safe for cats to consume, you might want to consider making a slush drink. These can be excellent treats for cats to enjoy during hot weather. You can use one of these drinks to make sure your cat is well-hydrated.

Although cats shouldn’t drink orange juice, there are other types of juice that are safe to enjoy occasionally. Moderation is always key when your cat enjoys treats.

Stacy Reed is a writer who lives with three cats who never miss a chance to teach her more about life and, of course, cats. She has been a cat parent since her teens, having had cats ranging from domestic shorthairs to Siamese mixes. Some of what she specializes in writing about includes general cat care, as well as health and behavior.

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