What Do Owners Need to Know About Cats and Orange Juice?
Many food and beverage items that people consume on a regular basis are bad for cats. Some of these are even dangerous, with known toxicity levels.
Others might have known toxic effects that could become life-threatening under the wrong set of circumstances.
Fruits in the citrus family, like oranges, stand out as one example of foods that are at least mildly toxic to cats.
Juice from these fruits is also known to be at least somewhat toxic and may prompt a visit to the vet.
Can cats drink orange juice? No, and there are several reasons why.
Why is Citrus Fruit Toxic?
According to WagWalking, eating citrus fruit can make a cat feel weak, as well as diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling.
Citrus fruit contains psoralens, Linalool, and limonene.
According to SF Gate Home Guides, the essential oils linalool and limonene are the compounds that are toxic to cats.
These substances are toxins that are known to cause illness in cats. Skin contact with these fruits can cause allergic dermatitis. This condition is a type of skin irritation that can cause your cat to have a lot of discomforts.
Do Juice Mixtures Matter?
According to pet writer, David Strickland cats cannot digest the essential oils present in orange juice, and the psoralens present in the juice can also cause problems for the cat.
The essential oils can only be broken down with Glucuronyl transferase, which cats’ bodies do not make.
Without a way to metabolize and digest these oils, they can reach toxic levels. A menthol buildup, which cats lack the ability to break down, can happen.
Psoralens are also compounds found in oranges and their juices, including mixtures. These compounds can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Depression is also an effect, as well as photosensitivity, which is very problematic for cats who ever go outdoors.
Like orange juice, along with some other types of juices, are high in Vitamin C, this is another reason to avoid allowing a cat to drink orange juice.
Cats, unlike humans, produce this vitamin naturally, which makes extra Vitamin C a bad idea.
What About No-Sugar Orange Juice?
Many cat owners wonder whether sugar-free orange juice products are more or less dangerous than other types of orange juice. A common assumption is that some sugar substitutes, like xylitol, are not toxic to cats.
According to Dr. Jason Nicholas, xylitol is toxic to some cats. Reports of this sugar substitute not being toxic have been due to a lack of reported poisonings.
Relatively few owners report these poisonings, possibly because they didn’t witness their cat consuming the offending substance. This lack of reported poisonings has unfortunately helped contribute to the idea xylitol is always safe.
Even though xylitol is only highly toxic to some cats, the hazards associated with orange juice are a good enough reason to keep cats away from it.
Xylitol can cause liver damage in some cats, making orange juice good for cats to avoid.
Xylitol is not the only sugar substitute found in orange juice that can sicken cats, according to Dr. Patty Khuly.
Aspartame metabolizes into methanol in the body. In cats, this ingredient is most likely to cause gastrointestinal problems.
Even though the risk of poisoning is low, it is a good idea to avoid allowing a cat to get into the habit of tasting orange juice.
What Are the Signs of Citrus Poisoning?
One helpful thing to know is that citrus fruit poisoning is very rarely fatal. Even though fatalities are rare, it is always a good idea for a citrus-poisoned cat to see a vet.
Rare fatalities usually happen because of liver damage, a dangerous side effect.
Symptom severity will depend on the amount of orange or its juice that the cat has consumed.
In addition to gastrointestinal upsets and weakness previously mentioned, symptoms could also include trembling and depression, which may worsen.
All of these symptoms could signal possible liver damage, which makes prompt veterinary attention important.
However, more severe cases could include jaundice, lethargy, bad-smelling breath, increased thirst, and urination, and abdominal swelling.
Severe liver disease can also involve an enlarged or decreased liver, tarry and dark stools, and seizures or other neurological symptoms.
In the very end, the cat may go into a coma and die, making prompt veterinary attention important just in case.
How Do Vets Diagnose Citrus Poisoning?
Vets will be able to diagnose citrus poisoning based on the owner’s information on unusual things ingested, what symptoms have been observed, and when the symptoms first started.
There is no test available to check specifically for citrus poisoning.
However, one test that is helpful in making the diagnosis is an endoscopy. An endoscope is a long, thin tube that allows the vet to examine areas inside the cat’s body. One of the advantages is getting a clearer view than X-rays may provide.
When a vet uses an endoscope, they can examine the stomach cavity in greater detail. One of the things a vet can check for a lot more easily with the endoscope is signs of orange juice that is still in the stomach, as well as other visible toxins.
How Do Vets Treat Citrus Poisoning?
When a cat has gotten into orange juice, a vet might induce vomiting with a hydrogen peroxide solution.
Activated charcoal might be given in case the stomach has remaining toxins. Sometimes, a vet might opt to perform a stomach wash for extra toxin flushing.
One thing that owners will need to be cautious of this their cat becoming dehydrated due to vomiting. When dehydration becomes a problem, vets can give extra fluids via IV.
The extra fluids can help restore the cat to good health.
If orange juice has gotten into contact with the cat’s skin, a vet can bathe the cat to soothe irritated skin and eliminate toxins.
Topical corticosteroid creams can help with itchiness and irritation, keeping the cat more comfortable.
How Does the Recovery Process Work?
Cats are likely to have sensitive stomachs after treatment for citrus poisoning. Soft foods are a good way to help prevent further irritation in the days following treatment. The cat’s appetite should return to normal fairly quickly.
In most cases, cats make a full recovery after treatment. In the event dehydration is still an issue, the cat may stay at the vet for a day or two for more fluids. Healthy cats usually rebound from dehydration fairly easily.
What Happens With Liver Disease?
According to Canna-Pet, the liver disease occurs when a cat’s liver becomes damaged, resulting in a reduction or loss of function. Ingesting toxins like orange juice is one possible cause.
The liver is one of the most important organs in the cat’s body. Some of its functions include waste detoxification, food digestion, and vitamin and mineral storage.
Carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolization are also vital functions. A healthy liver is crucial to cat health.
This YouTube video details cat liver disease.
Preventing Poisoning by Orange Juice
The best way to prevent orange juice poisoning in the future is to keep glasses of orange juice inaccessible to cats.
Even though most cats aren’t attracted to sweets and find orange scent objectionable, a curious cat might investigate unattended cups.
Using a cup that features a cover is a good way to keep cats out of juice cups. Any orange juice spills should also be cleaned up right away. Otherwise, the cat might mistake the spilled liquid for water and try to drink it.
According to Vet Street, owners can train cats to leave things alone, just as they might do for dogs. Putting a stop to stealing or begging is crucial.
Saying “No!” in a firm voice when the cat starts investigating the glass of juice is a major deterrent. Gently putting the cat on the floor after saying “No!” helps reinforce the idea that they need to stay away from the juice.
Rewarding the cat with a treat when they choose to ignore the glass of juice also helps provide further reinforcement and is an effective way to prevent poisoning.