Can Cats Eat Mandarin Oranges?

Can Cats Eat Mandarin Oranges?

It’s the time of year for mandarin oranges! These oranges were a staple for my family growing up (always one in the stocking to offset the candy) and now my oldest son loves them in his lunch, for at least a few weeks.

Mandarin oranges are also used in a lot of cooking (both the peel can be used and the fruit) and of course, it makes a great snack. But are they so great for our pet? Can cats eat mandarin oranges too?

Short answer: No. And just to be sure: No again. Oranges, like any other citrus fruit, are toxic to cats and shouldn’t be eaten by them.

Do Cats Like Mandarin Oranges?

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about your cat sneaking an orange behind your back (probably). Cats don’t like citrus and are generally repelled by the smell.

The skin is too tough to bother with, the fruit holds no appeal, and it doesn’t even make a good toy to play with.

Now, I can’t say that for all cats because there might be a cat out there somewhere who really wants to eat oranges despite how sick and potentially fatal it would be, but most cats will not like mandarin oranges and won’t even go near them.

Do Cats Hate Mandarin Oranges?

This is one of the few foods out there where we can say yes, cats hate mandarin oranges. They are repulsed by the smell (making oranges useful in places you want to keep cats out of) and they have no use for them.

Cats generally know when something is truly toxic to them and will stay away from it. They won’t even go near the leaves or stem of oranges because they too contain toxic elements.

Can Eating Mandarin Oranges Kill My Cat?

It’s unlikely that mandarin oranges will kill your cat (unless your cat eats a lot of it), but it will make your cat quite sick. Mandarin oranges are not safe for cats to eat and here’s why.

All citrus fruits (this includes lemons, limes, grapefruits, and all types of oranges) aren’t safe because they contain essential oils and psoralens that are toxic to cats.

These things are what give citrus that distinctive odor and while we may enjoy it, it’s not good for cats. Mandarin oranges also have fruit sugars that cats do not need to have in their diet, and while they are high in vitamin C, cats don’t need that either since they create their own from the food they eat normally.

The only possible vague benefit of mandarin oranges would be their water content and that is a pretty tiny benefit stacked against all the toxicity.

The most toxic part of an orange is the peel, leaves, and stem, but the fruit itself has the essential oils in them too, so really no part of mandarin orange is safe.

Symptoms of mandarin orange toxicity in cats include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rashes
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Photosensitivity

If any of these symptoms last longer than 24 hours or worsen over that period of time, it’s critical to get to the vet as the toxicity may cause even more damage.

This is particularly important if the cat was gnawing on the peel, leaves, or stem as this is where the essential oils tend to concentrate, causing the most potential damage to your cat.

Aside from the toxicity issues, oranges are also high in natural sugars which cats also shouldn’t eat too much of. Cats cannot taste sweet food anyway but eating too much can lead to weight gain which brings with it its own set of health problems such as joint problems and diabetes. These are obviously more long-term problems than the short-term toxicity ones, but still worth considering.

And finally, while oranges have fiber and water in them, neither of those are worth the health risks that cats endure by eating oranges. They can get these things from their normal food, not to mention their own water bowl!

So, if your cat chewed on a mandarin orange (unlikely, but who knows), it’s important to monitor your pet and call your vet for assistance, but unless your cat chewed on a few of them, you probably don’t have to worry about your cat dying from it. They may have to go to the vet though to get looked at.

Fortunately, most cats will be repulsed by oranges, so you shouldn’t have to worry about coming home to a bunch of ruined fruit and a very sick cat.

How Many Mandarin Oranges Can I Feed My Cat?

None. Cats should never eat mandarin oranges, and this includes:

  • Orange juice
  • Orange peel (Grated or otherwise)
  • Orange fruit in things
  • Chocolate orange (for many reasons!)
  • Candied or crystallized orange
  • Dried orange
  • Orange in dinners
  • Orange liquor (again, for many reasons!)

There are far better healthy foods you can give your cats, like their own food, or cooked plain meat, pieces of apple or banana (if your cat even cares), and vegetables like bits of cooked carrot.

Keep in mind though that cats are obligate carnivores so the vast majority of their diet should be meat with a bit of carbs on the side for energy.


Mandarin oranges are a great and healthy snack for us humans, but for cats, they are nothing but bad news. The smell alone tends to be enough to repulse cats and if they did eat some orange, they’d get pretty sick and might need a trip to the vet.

Mandarin oranges, along with any other orange and any other citrus fruit, are toxic to cats and so should never be fed to them.

And if you have an overly curious cat, keep these fruits well away from them by keeping them in the fridge and making sure to clean up after eating one or using one. That way, you can protect your pet from getting ill and encourage them to eat their own food!

Does your cat try to go to for mandarin oranges? Mine have never shown the slightest interest (she even hates it when I clean with lemon-smelling things, let alone orange).