Lemon juice (and in fact most citrus) is quite good for humans and is widely used in cooking and baking. It’s a common staple in most refrigerators and can be found in a range of recipes. But is lemon as good for cats as it is for humans?
Will cats beg for lemons whenever you take them out? In short, can cats drink lemon juice safely and derive any sort of benefit from it?
The short answer may surprise you a little: no, cats should not drink lemon juice (or any citrus for that matter). This is surprising to some because lemon juice is sometimes used topically on sensitive skin to deal with fleas. (As you can see though, you may want to avoid doing this because cats may lick the lemon juice and get sick!)
Lemons and lemon juice are quite toxic to cats and can cause anything from a sore stomach to convulsions, coma, and death. It’s one of the more dangerous foods for cats to be around!
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Do Cats Like Lemon Juice?
Fortunately, most cats will stringently avoid citrus of all kinds, lemon included. Cats are very careful about what they eat (it may not seem that way when they chew on string, for example, but that’s a separate issue) and will tend to avoid things that are toxic.
Therefore, it’s a very rare cat that would even want to have lemon juice, let alone like it. If you have a cat who has more curiosity than sense, you’ll definitely want to keep lemons and lemon juice away from it, no matter how much it begs to try some.
Do Cats Hate Lemon Juice?
Generally speaking, yes, cats hate lemons and lemon juice, as well as other citrus foods. Cats know which foods are no good for them and so most of them will not want anything to do with lemons or anything made with lemons. And since lemons do nothing for them nutritionally except make them sick, this is just as well.
My cats have shown absolutely no interest in lemons and even wrinkle up their nose at lemon cleaner.
Can Lemon Juice Kill my Cat?
Lemons contain some amazing antioxidants and oils for humans, but these things are downright toxic for cats. Primarily, the linalool, limonene, and psoralens found in lemons are all very toxic to cats.
The linalool and limonene cause stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea even in small amounts while the psoralens, when exposed to sunlight, can cause sunburns on your pet’s skin, which is why we don’t exactly recommend using them for banishing fleas (you have to really make sure you rinse it right off and you’re better off finding a sensitive skin product from your vet).
Even a small amount of lemon juice or lemons can cause the following:
- Excessive drooling
- Skin irritation or rash
Too much lemon exposure can cause lemon poisoning in cats with symptoms ranging from photosensitivity, depression, and lethargy to weakness, liver failure, collapse, and death.
If your cat ingests any lemon, take it to the vet right away. Inducing vomiting is not recommended because breathing in the oils of lemons is enough to cause problems all on its own. Instead, a vet may have to do a stomach wash and use activated charcoal to keep the cat from absorbing any more lemon.
Fortunately, assuming you get your pet to the vet fast enough, most cats will recover, and you’ll just have to monitor your pet for a few days after to make sure there’s no relapse. Go through your house and make sure all the lemon stuff is locked up tight!
If nothing else, the high acidity of lemons and lemon juice is enough to make a cat feel sick on even a very small amount, so it’s simply not worth letting them anywhere near it. Lemon juice is at best very irritating to a cat’s system and at worst, fatal.
How Much Lemon Juice is Safe for my Cat to Drink?
None. Even a very small amount of lemon juice can cause your cat to get stomach aches and other gastrointestinal problems. And depending on how sensitive your cat is, other more serious health issues can quickly develop.
Lemon juice is simply toxic to cats and since it’s also something that has no nutritional benefit and nothing to appeal, it’s unlikely your cat would want anything to do with it anyway.
Keep lemons and lemon juice well away from your cats and don’t let them have it on or with anything.
Better Flea Repellants Than Lemon Juice for your Cat
One of the controversial uses for lemon juice is as a natural flea repellant for cats, particularly those who have trouble with topical creams and flea collars. Many pet owners swear by using a lemon water rinse in strategic places (ears, armpits, base of the tail) to kill and drive off fleas.
However, this is a very risky thing to do. Any lemon juice that your cat licks off as part of their regular grooming can cause them to feel ill and too much lemon can cause sunburns.
Instead, you can try some of the following ways to repel fleas:
- `Cedar chips around their bed (Though they may not like that either!)
- Oregano oil or rosemary
- Lavender and chamomile
- Dish soap
These things about as effective as lemon juice at repelling and killing fleas, but with a lot less risk to your cat! You should also talk to your vet about a treatment plan that is both safe and effective.
Lemon juice is definitely one of the big ‘nos for cats to be exposed to. While it may be full of good things for humans, for cats, it’s nothing short of toxic and can even prove to be fatal.
Keep your lemons, lemon juice and anything else made with lemons well away from your cat and you can help keep your pet safe and healthy for a long time.
Have you had to chase your cat away from lemons?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.