Who doesn’t love the sweet and juicy sensation of biting into a fresh orange? This tangy citrus fruit isn’t only incredibly tasty – it is also an essential part of a human’s daily diet. Vitamin C is a huge part of our body’s nutritional requirements, and the best thing is, it is found in abundance in oranges.
But what about sharing this tasty citrus fruit with your feline companion? After all, cats need Vitamin C too – so why not? And what is better than sharing the delicious taste of an orange with your best cat friend?
Well – the verdict is out, and it may not be what you want to hear. The answer to the question “Can cats eat oranges?” is a big no. There are numerous reasons why you can’t share citrus with your cat companion, and some of them are pretty serious, and may affect your cat’s health negatively in more ways than one! Let’s explore these reasons below.
Why can’t cats eat oranges?
There is no doubt that this small citrus fruit packs an impressive nutritional punch, way over its weight class. There’s a reason why oranges are known to be a superfruit – they are filled to the brim with natural Vitamin C, a nutrient which strengthens the body’s immune system, helps to absorb iron, produces antioxidants which fight inflammation, and regulates the body’s healthy cardiac system. Both humans and cats alike need optimum levels of Vitamin C to maintain a healthy mind and body.
These are all great for us as humans – but when it comes to a cat’s digestive system, these nutritional benefits of oranges don’t actually matter, because in addition to having nine lives and being amazingly agile, cats can synthesize all the Vitamin C they need in their bodies. We humans can’t, which is why we have to consume external sources of Vitamin C in our diet.
This effectively removes the need for cats to eat oranges as a source of important Vitamin C. But what about just as a snack? Surely that won’t cause any harm?
Well, as good as oranges are when it comes to nutritional quality, they are actually also full of sugar. Cats and sugar don’t mix well together, and overconsumption of sugar (relative to their small size), even from a natural source like fruit, may eventually lead to obesity, and things like heart disease in the long run.
Additionally, oranges contain a high amount of acids which may upset your cat’s digestive systems, and essential oils that are found in abundance in the fruit and peel of the orange. These essential oils make the fruit smell absolutely heavenly, but prolonged exposure to these essential oils could cause issues in your cat’s nervous system.
Lastly, oranges contain psoralens, which are toxic compounds which can cause issues like photosensitivity in your cat.
These compounds are not found in oranges alone – in fact, they can be found in all citrus fruits, which include fruits like lemons, grapefruits, pomelos, and limes. So if you’re planning to share any citrus fruit with your cat – our best advice is: don’t!
What to do if your cat has eaten an orange
Even though we go to great lengths to ensure that our cats are kept safe and healthy, with a diet that we take pains to regulate, sometimes they might sneak off with a bite of that orange that you’re enjoying. And when this happens, you’ll most probably end up with one or more of these signs:
- Diarrhea and vomiting
Diarrhea and vomiting are one of the most common ways you can tell that they’ve eaten something wrong. If this happens after you notice bits of your orange or orange peel is missing, chances are your cat just stole a sneaky bite out of it!
Because of the psoralens in oranges, your cat may become photosensitive and show signs of dizziness and being unnaturally off-balance especially when in bright light situations.
Fatigue is a result of your cat’s digestive system reacting badly to the orange they just ate.
Seizures are uncommon, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen – your cat’s heightened photosensitivity may eventually lead to seizures that will become highly dangerous and in some rare, unlucky cases – fatal.
Contact your vet immediately if you see any of these signs present in your cat.
Substitutes to orange
If you want to share your fruit with your little fur ball as a tasty, natural snack, look for fruits that don’t contain any toxic compounds.
Bananas are popular fruit snack options for cats, as they are fiber-rich and can be served in tiny, cat-bite sized pieces.
Cats also love the taste of peeled, cored apples with their seeds taken out, and cut into small portions.
Strawberries and blueberries are great for kittens and cats alike, and they love the sweet taste and juicy texture of these berries. Always remember to cut off the stems and leaves before serving bite-sized portions!
Melons are known to be the best-loved fruit snack options for cats, as they contain loads of water content and are delicious at the same time. Try some crunchy, juicy de-seeded watermelon, or sweet and creamy cantaloupe as a fruit snack for your feline buddy.
Considerations when feeding fruits to cats
As with many other things, moderation is always key. Especially when it comes to feeding your cat. Remember to only give them snacks that total up to 10% or less of their daily caloric intake – and this includes fruit snacks, and processed pet shop snacks alike. Too much and you might run into conditions such as diabetes, thanks to the overconsumption of natural sugars in the fruits they have been eating.
If your cat has any underlying health conditions, you should always contact your vet for professional advice first before you introduce a new fruit snack to them. This ensures that both you and your feline companion have the ultimate peace of mind when it comes to adopting healthier snack choices for the long-term!