Can Cats Eat Oranges?

Can cats eat oranges? What about orange peels or other citrus fruits? We investigate the facts surrounding cats and oranges.

Photography © vvvita | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
A cat looking at an orange. Photography © vvvita | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Oranges are sweet fruits that are low in calories, have no fat and are rich in vitamin C. Oranges are a great snack for people, but can cats eat oranges? What should humans know about our feline friends and oranges?

Can cats eat oranges? The basics

A cat sniffing an orange.
Can cats eat oranges? Photography © aimy27feb | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Can cats eat oranges? The main problem for cats with eating oranges are the essential oils that they contain. The essential oils in oranges are toxic to cats and might make them very sick.

According to Embrace Pet Insurance Director of Claims Jenna Mahan, you don’t want to give your cats oranges because “the citric acid can cause stomach irritation and the essential oils can cause issues with the central nervous system.”

Can cats eat oranges if they’re still in their skin?

A silly cat wearing an orange peel on his head.
This photo may be funny … but cats and orange peels / skins don’t mix. Photography © Ulianna | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

It turns out that one of the top things to keep in mind when thinking, “Can cats have oranges?” is orange skins or peels. While you do not want to give your cat any part of an orange, Jenna explains that “the fruit itself has the lowest amount of essential oils, so it’s the least harmful part. Eating a bite of the fruit will likely cause minor stomach upset only.”

Can cats eat other citrus fruits?

The next question after, “Can cats eat oranges?” is, “Can cats eat any sorts of citrus fruits?” Jenna explains that — unfortunately — citrus of any kind is not good for cats. So, if you’re cooking with lemons or eating grapefruits and oranges you’ll want to keep your cat away from them. Citrus fruits of all sorts are bad for cats and will cause stomach upset and the risk of more serious medical conditions in the central nervous system.

Can cats eat oranges? The side effects 

Cat parents who wonder, “Can cats eat oranges?” might also wonder about the side effects if their cats do eat oranges. The primary side effects of cats eating oranges include gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Given how uncomfortable oranges could make your cats, there really is no reason to feed oranges to them.

The good thing is that most cats naturally avoid anything citrus, so keeping a cat from ingesting oranges shouldn’t be too difficult.

That said, if your cat has eaten oranges, or you believe your cat ate something containing oranges or orange peels, consult your veterinarian or your local emergency veterinary clinic for support.

Thumbnail: Photography © vvvita | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

About the author:

Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author whose novels have been honored by the American Library Association and the Lambda Literary Foundation. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Instructor who shares her home and writing life with three dogs, two bossy senior cats and a formerly feral kitten. Learn more at

Read more about what cats can — and can’t — eat on

2 thoughts on “Can Cats Eat Oranges?”

  1. I have a question, I’ve been getting this kitten food by whole hearted that has all the good main ingredients like real chicken, no by products, salmon oil, ect, bit way, waaay down the list it has blueberries and oranges. Should I change brands right away? They dont seem to be having any digestion issues, but I saw it in a review and had to see if it was true.

    1. Hi Bradi,
      Thanks for reaching out. We suggest asking your vet for advice on which food would best fit your kitty’s needs.

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