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Can Cats Eat Grapefruit? Vet Approved Health Guide & FAQ

Written by: Kit Copson

Last Updated on January 13, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Fresh raw grapefruit

Can Cats Eat Grapefruit? Vet Approved Health Guide & FAQ


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats can safely eat a variety of fruits as occasional treats but, unfortunately, grapefruit is not one of them. Cats should never eat grapefruit because most parts of this fruit are toxic and even the flesh can upset their stomachs.

In this guide, we’ll explain why cats can’t eat grapefruit, the signs of grapefruit poisoning, and which fruits are safe and unsafe for cats to consume.

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Why Can’t Cats Eat Grapefruit?

Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) contains psoralens and essential oils, which are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses as explained by the ASPCA1. The grapefruit peel, plant, and seeds are all toxic to cats, and consuming these could result in a number of signs. If a large enough amount of toxins are consumed, grapefruit poisoning can kill cats.

The grapefruit fruit/flesh itself isn’t believed to be toxic according to the ASPCA, but the fibrous material that surrounds the pulp is. Also, the flesh is very acidic and can be too harsh on your cat’s stomach, and the acidity level could cause digestive upset. Fortunately, cats aren’t typically drawn to citrus fruits like grapefruit, limes, oranges, and lemons, but it’s best to keep all such fruits out of your cat’s reach just in case.

Peeled grapefruit
Photo Credit: Djaheda Richers, Pexels

Signs of Grapefruit Poisoning

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Photosensitivity
  • Dermatitis (skin irritation)
  • Drooling
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

What About Grapefruit Essential Oils?

Grapefruit essential oil and other types of essential oils, including other citrus essential oils, peppermint, tea tree, wintergreen, and ylang-ylang, are not safe for cats, either. If these get on a cat’s skin or they manage to ingest some, toxicity can occur.

Cats affected by essential oils may show the signs described above and/or other signs like pawing at the mouth and face and burns or redness on or in the mouth. Lack of coordination and breathing issues are also possible. If you suspect your cat has been in contact with or ingested essential oils, contact your vet straight away.

My Cat Ate Grapefruit, What Should I Do?

If you suspect that your cat has been eating any part of a grapefruit (this includes grapefruit essential oil), contact your vet or a pet poison hotline for advice immediately, even if your cat seems fine. As mentioned above, the effects of grapefruit on cats can range from mild to severe.

If your cat only ate a bit of the grapefruit’s flesh, the worst-case scenario is most likely an upset tummy. However, if the peel, plant, or seeds have been consumed, the outcome could be much more serious. Whatever the case, it’s important to make sure a vet is aware of the situation so they can provide treatment if necessary.

Do not attempt to treat your cat yourself with activated charcoal or inducing vomiting, as this can be dangerous for your cat. Let a vet handle it. If your cat is indeed experiencing grapefruit poisoning, your vet may treat them with activated charcoal before providing rehydration therapy and supportive care to aid in recovery.

vet checking up a cat
Photo Credit: brodtcast, Shutterstock

Safe Fruits for Cats

To be clear, cats are obligate carnivores, so they have no need for fruit in their diets. However, there’s nothing wrong with giving small pieces of safe fruits as treats from time to time if your cat enjoys them. Remember to remove any rinds, seeds, thorns, leaves, stones, or pits (these are toxic and are choking hazards), and feed fruits in bite-sized pieces. They should also be offered fresh and never canned or in candy form.

Safe fruits include:
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Mangos
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pineapple

Unsafe Fruits for Cats

In addition to grapefruit, a number of fruits are unsafe for cats and can cause toxicity. Some fruits can even cause very serious effects like kidney failure and central nervous system depression. These include:

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Clementines
  • Grapes
  • Raisins

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Final Thoughts

It’s wise to steer clear of feeding grapefruit to your cat due to its high acidity levels and the toxic compounds it contains. Cats aren’t naturally the biggest fans of fruit but, if yours likes them, there are plenty of safe options you can offer occasionally in small amounts, including strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and apples. If your cat has eaten grapefruit, please seek veterinary advice.

Featured Photo Credit: Nedim Bajramovic, Shutterstock

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