Can Cats Eat Oranges? No, Here’s What You Need to Know

By: Katie KoschalkUpdated:

can cats eat oranges
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Can Cats Eat Oranges? No, Here’s What You Need to Know

Refreshing, juicy and flavorful, oranges are a favorite for many of us. Not to mention they’re bursting with vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants, which support human wellness. But what about our feline friends? Can cats eat oranges?

Sorry, kitties—oranges are one of several human foods cats should never eat. Oranges and other citrus fruits contain essential oils and other compounds that are bad for cats.

We spoke to a vet expert to understand the dangers of oranges for cats and what to do if your furball gets their paws on this juicy fruit.

Expert input provided by Dr. Desiree Luevano, DVM, owner and medical director of GoodVets in Dallas.

Why Are Oranges Unsafe for Cats?

There are a few key reasons oranges are unfit for our whiskered pals.

Toxic Compounds

Oranges, like other citrus fruits, contain essential oils and compounds that can be harmful to cats. The main toxic compounds in oranges are limonene and linalool, which are found in the peel.

High Sugar

The high sugar content in oranges can be harmful to cats. Unlike humans, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies are optimized for a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Their systems are not designed to process sugars efficiently.

High sugar content can be especially problematic for cats who are diabetic or pre-diabetic, as it can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. Even for non-diabetic cats, frequent ingestion of sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity, which can increase the risk of developing other health problems like joint issues or cardiovascular disease.

Peel and Seeds

The peel and seeds of oranges contain chemicals called psoralens. The flesh also contains these chemicals.

Psoralens can induce skin sensitivity to sunlight, which might lead to redness, irritation or blisters after your cat enjoys a sunny day outside.

Consuming the peel can also cause choking or a gastrointestinal blockage. The indigestible peel can become lodged in a cat’s throat or intestinal tract. This obstruction can be fatal if not promptly treated.


Oranges are acidic, which can cause an upset stomach in cats, leading to discomfort, diarrhea or vomiting.

Signs Your Cat Has Eaten an Orange

If your cat ingests a tiny bit of the flesh of an orange, they’ll most likely just get an upset stomach. But in the unlikely event your cat eats a larger quantity of orange flesh, you may see more symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea.

If your cat eats the peel, they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin irritation
  • Depression of the central nervous system

What To Do if Your Cat Eats Oranges

If your cat sneaks a little nibble of orange flesh, don’t panic. It’s quite uncommon for cats to experience severe illness from consuming citrus flesh. The potent scent of citrus fruits naturally deters most cats, so it’s unlikely they would consume enough to cause harm.

For the same reason, it’s rare for cats to consume orange peel. A cat might be more likely to consume an orange seed, stem or leaf, which, according to the ASPCA, can also be harmful to cats.

If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of an orange, observe them closely. If you notice any of the above symptoms, or if you’re unsure how much orange your cat ingested, contact your veterinarian immediately. They can advise you on what to do next, which may include bringing your cat to the clinic for treatment.

You can also call an animal poison helpline for advice, including:

Fruits Safe for Cats

While citrus fruits like oranges are a no-go for cats, there are other fruits generally considered safe for cats to consume in small amounts.

Cat-safe fruits include:

Always remember to remove seeds, pits and cores before offering mangoes, watermelon and apples to your cat. The apple core can pose a choking hazard, and both apple and watermelon seeds (as well as the mango pit) can be toxic. And don’t give them much. A little nibble as an occasional treat is enough.

FAQs About Oranges and Cats

We’ve established that cats shouldn’t eat oranges, but what about orange juice or mandarins? Can cats smell oranges? Here are the answers to these common queries and others.


Can cats have orange juice?

A:No, cats cannot have orange juice. Various compounds found in oranges are bad for cats, and the high sugar content in orange juice can lead to obesity and other health issues.


Can cats eat mandarin oranges?

A:No, cats should not eat mandarin oranges (or any other type of oranges). Just like regular oranges, mandarin oranges contain compounds that can be harmful to your cat’s health.


What happens if cats eat the orange peel?

A:If a cat eats orange peel, they may experience symptoms of citrus poisoning. This can include vomiting, diarrhea and depression. The essential oils in oranges are more concentrated in the peel, making peels toxic to cats. If you suspect your cat has consumed orange peel, call your veterinarian or an animal poison helpline for advice.


Are oranges safe for cats to smell?

A:While it’s not necessarily harmful for a cat to smell an orange, cats generally hate the smell of oranges. The strong scent can be overwhelming and unpleasant for them. Some people even use orange peels or orange-scented sprays as a cat repellent. For the well-being of your cat, don’t purposely expose them to citrus scents.


What are the benefits of cats eating oranges?

A:There are no benefits to cats eating oranges. All citrus fruits can be toxic to cats and should be avoided altogether.


What fruit is poisonous to cats?

A:In addition to citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits, other fruits that are bad for cats include grapes and raisins. Cats should also avoid stone fruits like cherries, peaches and plums, as the pits are highly toxic. Pet parents should always consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new food into their cat’s diet.
While oranges are not a suitable cat food, there are plenty of other human foods that are safe and healthy for your furry friend to enjoy in moderation, from apples to watermelon.


By: Katie KoschalkUpdated: