Our feelings about our pets have changed. Many people see themselves as parents instead of owners. That’s reflected in the fact that some manufacturers label their products as human-grade, although no legal framework for this term exists. It’s simply marketing. Nevertheless, we view sharing food as an act of love. If you like something, you want to split it with others—including your cat.
Unfortunately, that’s not a wise plan if you’re considering giving your kitty limes. According to the ASPCA, these fruits are toxic to felines, dogs, and even horses.
Nutritional Value of Limes
While we don’t usually eat limes, its juice has nutritional value. According to the USDA Food Database, a 100-gram serving provides rich sources of potassium with 10.5 grams of carbohydrates. The fruit contains over 88% water with only 30 calories. Of course, vitamin C is its hallmark, providing almost half of your recommended daily allowance of this essential nutrient.
The story of vitamin C is an interesting one. Its primary sources are fruits which people couldn’t get during the winter months, back in the day. That presents two problems. First, vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient. That means that your body doesn’t store it. Therefore, you must get it every day from foods and beverages.
Before widespread citrus agriculture and food transportation, that’s a problem.
Second, humans can’t synthesize it, unlike other vitamins like vitamin K. It’s a trait we share with other primates and guinea pigs. That means we’re vulnerable to deficiencies, which was a serious issue with sailors before the 18th century. It wasn’t until Dr. William Paul Crillon Barton happened upon a connection between citrus consumption and scurvy protection that it changed.
Cats and humans have a common ancestor that goes back 94 million years ago. Today, we still share 90% of our DNA. It’s not a stretch to think that we may be able to consume the same foods and beverages, given this similarity. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Bear in mind that humans are omnivores. Felines are obligate carnivores. Fruits and vegetables don’t supply a significant portion to their diets.
That begs the question: What happens if a cat eats a lime?
Adverse Side Effects of Limes
Citrus essential oils can cause mouth irritation. It’s something sensitive people may experience, too. That might be enough to keep your cat from ingesting limes. The other issue is psoralens. Limes contain large amounts of these chemicals. That’s one reason these compounds are a vital aspect of photochemotherapy used for treating conditions such as psoriasis.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t without its risks. Medications containing psoralens increase your vulnerability to UV radiation and its effects. They also add to the toxic effects if your cat eats lime or drinks the juice. Then, there’s the acid. Pets with sensitive digestive systems may not be able to tolerate the acidity. It’ll likely cause similar discomfort for your kitty as it does you. This could mean vomiting or diarrhea for your cat if ingested.
We love our pets almost to a fault. It’s understandable if you want to share your favorite foods with your cat. Unfortunately, it won’t work out as planned. Limes can cause problems for your feline companion, running from irritation to GI issues. If you want to treat your pet, you should give your cat treats formulated for them. Your kitty will love you just the same.