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Can Cats Eat Grapes? What You Need to Know!

Cats are obligate carnivores, and they need the taurine provided by meat because they cannot make it themselves. While there are several fruits and vegetables that your cat may enjoy and that are even beneficial to their overall health, are grapes safe for cats?

Most dog owners know the dangers of feeding grapes or raisins to dogs, but is it the same for felines? Can cats eat grapes? The answer is a firm no. Fruits have a vastly different way of being digested in cats and dogs than in humans, and grapes in particular can cause serious issues in cats when ingested. Animal experts are unsure of what exactly causes the toxic reaction to grapes in dogs and cats, but they are sure about the potentially harmful effects that they can cause.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into why you should avoid giving your feline friend these seemingly innocent fruits.

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Potential dangers in eating grapes

The harmful effects of grapes and raisins in dogs are well-documented, and it is for this reason that animal experts like the ASPCA advise against giving grapes to your cat too. Luckily, cats are not usually particularly interested in eating grapes, so you likely don’t need to hide your fruit bowl from them.

While there is no hard evidence that grapes can cause harm in cats, the literature on dogs and grapes is well known and conclusive, so the risk is too great to take a chance on. Where it gets even more confusing is that some dogs and cats can eat grapes and have no adverse reactions at all, while some may get severely sick within just a few hours after ingesting the fruit.

The main concern with cats (and dogs) ingesting grapes is kidney failure. The toxic substance found in grapes and raisins may lead to sudden kidney failure in some felines. The exact reason for this is still somewhat of a mystery, and scientists have not yet figured out exactly the substance inside grapes that is causing cats and dogs kidneys to react so severely. It appears as though the toxic substance is in the flesh of the fruit, though, so peeled grapes are still potentially dangerous.

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Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

Is there a toxic dose?

Because grapes have such varying degrees of reaction in dogs and cats and because the exact toxin responsible is yet to be found, it is difficult to establish a toxic dose. Some cats may be fine ingesting a few grapes, while others may not. Of course, poisoning is far more likely in higher doses, but every cat may react uniquely. This is why we recommend no grapes at all just to be safe, but if you find your cat halfway nibbling through a grape, there is likely no reason to worry.

Are there any particular varieties to look out for?

We recommend avoiding all varieties of grapes, including seedless, commercial, homegrown, red, or green and of course, raisins. Grapeseed oil, wine, and even currants are all potentially harmful for your cat and should be avoided. We always advocate erring on the side of caution and avoid giving your cat anything that comes from or may contain grapes.

Symptoms of grape toxicity in cats

You may do all that you can to stop your cat from eating grapes, but there is always a chance that these crafty animals may get their paws on a grape or raisin. If you suspect that your cat has ingested grapes, the first likely sign will be nausea and vomiting. Diarrhea is also a potential symptom, along with a lack of appetite, lethargy, excessive thirst, and the most worrying, lack of urination, but it may also manifest as excessive urination.

These are all possible symptoms of acute kidney failure and the gradual shutting down of the kidneys.

Grape toxicity treatment

If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms, they need to get to a vet as soon as possible. The earlier that they can be treated, the better their chance of a full recovery. Unfortunately, unless you are sure your cat ingested raisins, it can be difficult to diagnose kidney failure as caused by grapes. Kidney failure could have several other potential causes.

Your vet will likely try and induce vomiting, and they will assess if there are any leftover pieces of grapes or raisins in the vomit. This will also rid your cat of any more potential toxins. The only treatment is to block any further toxin absorption (by inducing vomiting) and try and minimize the damage to your cat’s kidneys. Vomiting is typically induced using activated charcoal, which helps the absorption of the toxins from your cat’s stomach.

If your cat has eaten a large number of grapes or some time has passed since ingestion, the toxicity levels may be too high and require more serious intervention. This could include intravenous fluids to help further flush out any toxins or even a blood transfusion.

Usually, if your cat only ate a few small grapes and were treated fairly soon, they will likely be perfectly fine. If, on the other hand, their treatment was delayed and they ate a large amount, there may be irreparable kidney damage that may prove fatal, as kidneys cannot regenerate or repair themselves.

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Image Credit: Shutterbug75, Pixabay

Other foods to avoid giving your cat

For most cat-lovers, our cats are an integral part of our families, and it’s natural for us to want to “spoil” them with treats. But along with grapes, other common human foods can cause potentially harmful reactions in your feline, including but not limited to:

  • Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products may seem like a harmless treat for your cat, and you may be tempted to slip them a saucer of fresh milk. Most cats are lactose intolerant however, and cheese, milk, and cream can cause stomach issues, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures in cats.
  • Onions and garlic. Both onions and garlic can cause anemia, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in cats.

What fruits are safe for cats?

While most cats will simply not be interested in the sweetness of fruit, there are certain fruits that in moderation, can make for a healthy feline treat. These include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

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Conclusion

While this may sound scary, the likelihood of your cat ingesting a fatal number of grapes is low, especially if you take the correct precautionary steps. Most cats will have little interest in eating a ripe grape off your fruit bowl. The main thing to avoid is purposely giving grapes to your cat, especially in a concentrated form like raisins, currents, or juices.

There are plenty of other healthy options of treats to give your feline friend, including fruit, so keeping grapes out of your cat’s diet is safe and will not leave them lacking in tasty treat options.