Can Cats Eat Lemon? Lemon Poisoning in Cats

cat watching a plate with fish and lemon
(Last Updated On: May 23, 2023)

Lemonade, lemon juice, lemon squares—humans eat lemons a lot. You might even have a lemon tree somewhere nearby, or you just buy lemons from the store that you bring home and your cat is a little curious about. Can cats eat lemon? How much lemon is toxic to a cat?

The answer is no, they should not consume it. Even just a small amount is a source of toxins that can give your cat stomach trouble due to its acidity. All citrus fruits are, so if you’ve got lemons in the house, make sure your cat stays away.

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Can Cats Eat Lemon? Ingredients in Lemon that Toxic for Cats

Generally, they don’t like the smell instinctually, but what ingredients in lemon are actually toxic?

lemon in water close up

Citrus fruits like lemon have something called psoralen, which is a chemical that can work for people to treat conditions like psoriasis and other skin irritation. In felines, psoralen is very toxic to cats. Cats will have skin irritation if the cat’s skin comes into contact with these kinds of fruits. Even a small consumption of these compounds, especially psoralen and linalool can lead to your cat suffering skin burns when they’re out in the sunlight.

Even the chemical that creates the lemon peel scent is toxic to your cat. That’s why you shouldn’t even use a product that has a lemon scent and use only pet products on your cat. You need to watch out for lemons as it contains essential oils and toxins with psoralen and linalool compounds that are poisonous to cats. In addition, it is also safe not to spray your cat with lemon water as an anti-flea or topical treatment.

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Is Lemon Juice Bad for Cats? Can Cats Eat Lemon Juice?

Ah! My cat licked lemon juice! Cats should not drink lemon juices. Thanks to the toxins in the scent of lemon, your cat shouldn’t want to go anywhere near even a small amount of lemonade. If your cat smells it, you should notice them vomiting potentially, or their mood might dampen for the day.

Your cat shouldn’t want to drink the juice. But if it does drink a small amount of lemon juice, you may notice vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy, skin irritation, tremors, seizures.

Symptoms of Lemon Poisoning in Cats

The compounds in lemon cause poisoning to your cat, which are unfortunately used in many cats and dogs shampoos. If you also have a dog, always make sure to use a different one for your cat, or maybe just use a non-lemon one just to be sure that your cat doesn’t get too close. Like if your cat likes to lick your dog, for example.

You will also want to avoid any soaps or fragrances that have the citrusy scent. This includes any insecticides. So while these cleaning products may not be problematic for you, you’ll need to make sure that your cat isn’t tasting them even accidentally. You need to hide those products well your curious cat may sniff them.

Not all lemon products smell very strongly of lemon, after all, and sometimes that flavoring and scent can be hidden by other smells. Your cat might taste something without you even noticing or thinking about it, so you should be on the lookout for some of the most common symptoms of poisoning.

Signs To Look Out For: Cats and Lemons

Poisoning causes gastrointestinal distress or even death, but only in extreme cases where your cat has ingested a large quantity of lemon water juice or lemons. More normally, you will notice some symptoms that you can talk to your veterinarian about to make sure that your cat will get the treatment they need to keep living healthily.

This includes common symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, skin irritation or rash, and weakness. It can also cause gastrointestinal upset. If you want to narrow it down to poisoning, look for excessive drooling, possible photosensitivity, depression, lethargy, cold limbs, and even collapse. Your doctor may possibly find that liver failure and low blood pressure are also symptoms.

If you’re trying to figure out if your cat has ingested lemon, you’ll want to look for some of the odder symptoms to give you a clue. This includes that photosensitivity, which means sensitivity to bright lights or the sun.

Your cat might cower or act in pain. Look for other changes in your cat’s behavior as well, things that you wouldn’t ordinarily see them doing.

Know that poisons usually act quickly, which means that your cat will likely be displaying symptoms soon after ingestion. This contrasts with any usual illness, which may prompt your cat to hide in off places.

You should see symptoms immediately, and if you do, get it to the vet right away. Poisoning does not have to end in death if it’s not severe and if you can get the treatment that your cat needs.

close up lemon

Diagnosis and Treatment

Get your cat to the emergency vet as soon as possible when you start to notice symptoms, and treatment will begin right away.

You will likely do a urinalysis or blood work to ensure that there are no other problems or underlying conditions that might be causing the symptoms instead. The vet may examine any stool or vomit to ensure that they know the source of the toxins. It’s not easy for you to know for sure that your cat ingested lemon, after all.

Typically, this treatment is all about getting that toxin out of your cat as quickly as possible by pumping your cat’s stomach by giving them activated charcoal. All of this will remove the lemon while getting rid of any lingering toxins.

If your cat had a lot of vomiting or stomach pain with diarrhea, your vet might give them some fluids for rehydration or intravenous fluids therapy and do gastric lavage procedure. It’s crucial to rehydrate your cat.

Recovery: Keep Your Cat Safe

Make sure that you still give your cat a little bit of recovery time. Your vet will help administer fluids if your cat needs it, and if you noticed that your cat has some sensitivity to sunlight, you should make sure to keep them indoors and maybe with your shades closed until they’re fully recovered.

Overall, lemon is bad for cats. Keep your furry friends away from it as much as possible. Keep your lemon fruits out of reach! Ultimately, your cat will generally make a good recovery from lemon poisoning, especially if you are able to bring them to the vet quickly.

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