A jolt of caffeine is what kickstarts many people’s days. However, the same coffee that stimulates human bodies isn’t safe for cats to drink.
Given the curiosity of cats, they may sometimes try to taste your coffee.
Please don’t allow them to have a sniff. Below is a detailed explanation of why coffee is awful for cats.
Why Coffee Is Bad For Your Cat?
Coffee contains two compounds that are toxic to cats. The substances are caffeine and theobromine.
Caffeine (methylxanthine) and theobromine belong to a class of organic compounds called alkaloids. Plants synthesize alkaloids to protect them from insects and other pests.
Humans and other large mammals have defense mechanisms capable of dealing with alkaloids. Cats have small bodies and will feel the full effects of caffeine.
One lap of coffee is unlikely to be fatal, but it will cause problems for your cat once the amount increases. The lowest lethal dose of caffeine in cats is 100-150 mg/kg (45-70 mg/lb) of body weight, while the lethal dose of theobromine is 200 mg/kg (90 mg/lb).
Although theobromine is less potent than caffeine, the two compounds combine with devastating effects. The situation becomes dire if your coffee contains sugar or milk. Cats are lactose intolerant—they experience stomach upsets after consuming milk.
Lactose intolerance mainly occurs to mature cats that lack the required enzymes to break down milk, and sugar causes pancreas inflammation in cats. If untreated, such inflammation will claim your cat’s life. Sugar derivatives like xylitol can also cause liver failure in cats.
A combination of caffeine, sugar, and milk is likely to damage organs like the liver, pancreas, kidneys, central nervous system, heart, and lungs.
Cats don’t require stimulants to stay active. They only need a short nap to regain their full strength.
What Happens to Your Cat After Coffee Consumption?
Signs of caffeine poisoning will appear 1 to 2 hours after coffee ingestion. This period might vary depending on the amount of coffee your cat has consumed. Their misery might last for up to 12 hours and can be fatal if you take no action.
The most common symptom your cat will display is hypersensitivity. It will be restless and will run around in discomfort. Other signs to watch out for include:
- Heart palpitations
- Increased body temperature (hyperthermia)
- Gastric distress
- High blood pressure
Cats that consume large quantities of caffeine might collapse or die within a short period.
Always document such symptoms. Recorded information will help the vet determine the severity of the poisoning.
What to Do If Your Cat Drinks Coffee
You need to promptly act if you discover your cat has consumed coffee or products with caffeine. Don’t wait until you see symptoms of poisoning. It’s advisable to call your vet immediately if you suspect your cat has ingested caffeine.
If your cat only licked a small amount, you shouldn’t panic too much. Your cat will turn out fine. However, kittens are sensitive to small quantities of coffee. They fall ill when they ingest any amount of coffee.
Before taking a trip to the vet, you should:
- Move the cat to a ventilated area
- Determine the amount of coffee the cat consumed
- Monitor and document any symptoms
Avoid doing the following things:
- Avoid inducing vomiting without the help of a vet
- Don’t give unprescribed medication to the cat
How Vets Treat Caffeine-Poisoned Cats
A quick trip to the vet could be what saves your cat’s life. The more you hesitate, the more the caffeine toxins spread throughout the cat’s body.
Doctors have the relevant experience and know-how to care for toxin-infected cats.
Upon arrival, the vet will diagnose the cat and identify the severity of the poisoning. The vet will then recommend a course of treatment modalities based on the toxin levels.
When it comes to treatment, the vet might:
- Flush the toxins
- Prescribe medication
- Hospitalize the cat
Most veterinarians induce vomiting to flush caffeine from the cat’s system. Vomiting is only helpful in instances where caffeine hasn’t invaded the bloodstream. Afterward, the vet will use activated charcoal to absorb any remaining toxins in the cat’s stomach.
Dehydration often accompanies vomiting. Your pet’s doctor might recommend supportive therapy to curb excessive dehydration.
Vets use antacids to treat gastric-related distresses from caffeine poisoning. Cat sedatives come in handy when stabilizing high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats, while anticonvulsants treat seizures.
The veterinarian can also catheterize the cat’s bladder to prevent the re-absorption of coffee toxins.
If your cat has severe caffeine poisoning, it’s likely to remain under the vet’s care for several days. Constant monitoring and medication are necessary to monitor your cat’s condition.
How to Prevent Coffee Poisoning in Cats
The devastation that comes after losing your beloved cat might be too much to bear. And if your cat survives coffee poisoning, you’re likely to incur an increase in expenses due to medication.
It would be best if you didn’t try to experiment with caffeine on your cat. A small sip of coffee could turn fatal. The best way of preventing coffee poisoning is by keeping coffee and caffeine-related products away from the reach of cats.
Never leave an unattended cup of coffee in your home. Your curious cat might take a few licks. The same applies to any coffee grounds that remain. Always dispose of any coffee that isn’t consumed.
In case you spill coffee on the floor, wipe it up immediately. Your cat might accidentally lick such spills.
Store your coffee beans in a closed jar. Given the playful nature of cats, they might be tempted to eat the beans or grounds.
Educate your family and any member of your household on the risk coffee poses to cats. Each individual, including kids, should be aware of the dangers of certain foods to pets. You certainly don’t want to arrive at home only to find your children feeding the family cat coffee.
Train your cats to avoid human food. Most cat owners assume that what is edible for the owner is also edible for the cat. Such assumptions are entirely wrong. Your favorite café americano might be what kills your beloved cat.
Other Sources of Caffeine
The coffee in your pantry isn’t the only source of caffeine. Many beverages contain caffeine and shouldn’t be drunk by cats.
Here are some everyday items and drinks that are harmful to cats.
- Energy drinks
- Sodas, including diet soda
- Tea (black, green)
- Water enhancers
- Ice creams (coffee-flavored)
- Some workout supplements
- Weight-loss supplements
- Diet pills like Vivarin
- Migraine relief medication
- Menstrual relief medication like acetaminophen
- Synthetic juices
- Some pain pills
Energy drinks contain up to300 mg of caffeine per can. It only takes a lick from such drinks for your cat to become ill.
Chocolate and cocoa have high levels of theobromine and caffeine.
Tea, whether black or green, also contains caffeine. The amount is smaller than in coffee, but it will harm your cat.
Tea also contains nicotine. Nicotine is highly toxic to cats. It blocks nerve receptors and induces seizures and tremors. The presence of caffeine and nicotine makes tea an unsafe beverage for your cat.
Medication, especially those for menstrual concerns, pain, and migraine relief, have high levels of caffeine. In human beings, caffeine plays a critical role in pain modulation.
The problem with such drugs is that they resemble cat treats. Cats might be tempted to bite them and end up consuming caffeine. Always store medication in tightly closed cabinets.
Healthy Food and Beverages for Cats
If you intend to prepare a healthy dietary routine for your cat, you’ll need to be careful about what ingredients you incorporate.
Grown-up cats are carnivores—their primary nutrition comes from meat. Cats require lots of proteins, and the best source is cooked beef and chicken. The meat should be thoroughly cooked to avoid potential salmonella poisoning.
The overall cat diet should be low in calories and fat to avert weight gain. If you’re unsure about preparing cat food, you should source pre-prepared food.
Kittens should ideally rely on their mother’s milk until they can consume solid food.
When it comes to drinks, cats should only drink clean water. Water helps them stay hydrated and digest food better. An alternative to water is cat broth. Such broth is sold in stores, and it contains water, chicken, meat, and other elements vital for survival.
Avoid the temptation of feeding cats cow milk. Milk is detrimental to a cat’s health. As we mentioned earlier, food and beverages that contain caffeine, nicotine, and sugar are bad for cats.
How Do You Keep a Happy Cat?
A healthy cat is a happy cat. It’s vital to understand the types of food and drinks that might be harmful to your cat.
Always be vigilant when drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Coffee beans and food deemed toxic to cats should be stored in properly sealed containers within your cabinets.
Taking cautionary measures will reduce your trips to the vet, and most importantly, keep your cat alive and well.
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