Coffee is one of the most popular drinks all over the world. Indeed, most of us hardly ever go a day without sipping a glass of the good, old coffee.
So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that coffee or coffee-based drinks dominate the kitchen shelves in many homes today.
If you also own a cat, you may have realized that your feline friend always gets curious whenever it catches you enjoying your cup of coffee.
Now, cats tend to gravitate towards whatever their human owners are eating or drinking. But as you may already know, most people foods aren’t considered safe for cats. And that may get you wondering, can cats drink coffee?
No, cats cannot drink coffee. Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that most cats are highly sensitive to. Besides, cats are obligate carnivores and thrive almost exclusively on a diet of animal protein. Therefore, the mere fact that coffee is a plant-based product makes it less nutritionally beneficial to your feline friend.
So, is coffee bad for cats?
Yes, coffee is quite toxic to cats. And that includes coffee beans, ground coffee powder, and even caffeinated drinks such as tea, soda, guarana, energy and sports supplements, diet pills, etc.
Can My Cat Drink Coffee? Here’s What Could Go Wrong
As a caring and responsible cat owner who also happens to be a coffee lover, it’s not unusual to find yourself wondering, is coffee harmful to cats?
As we’ve already mentioned, coffee is dangerously toxic to cats and should be kept as far away from them as possible.
Coffee contains two main compounds that are both toxic to cats – caffeine and theobromine. Most incidences of theobromine poisoning are usually reported in dogs, especially after eating chocolate. However, since cats are less sensitive to sweet tastes, they’re often less curious about chocolate compared to dogs.
Sadly, coffee is loaded with theobromine and the bad news is, just a bit of this chemical can wreak havoc in your cat’s system.
But the toxicity of theobromine for cats doesn’t even come close to that of the stimulant, caffeine. And the fact that coffee contains both caffeine and theobromine makes it even more harmful to your feline friend.
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Is caffeine poisonous to cats and what happens if a cat drinks coffee?
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and comes with a host of adverse effects for cats. That’s because unlike humans, cats have a lower tolerance for caffeine and even theobromine.
The following are some of the classic symptoms of caffeine poisoning for cats;
- Hyperactivity or restlessness, which often manifests in bouncing off the ground, wall, or other objects,
- Elevated heart rate and irregular heartbeat,
- Gastrointestinal complications, such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration, abdominal discomfort, and gassiness,
- High blood pressure,
- Neurological symptoms, including seizures and body tremors, and
These symptoms usually begin within an hour or two after drinking coffee. Also, the severity of the symptoms depends on the amount of coffee that your cat has drunk.
But will coffee kill a cat?
Unfortunately, coffee can kill your cat. Numerous studies have proven that caffeine poisoning is fatal if it goes untreated.
But how much caffeine can kill a cat?
Now, you should remember that cats do not digest caffeine or theobromine as efficiently as humans do. Which means that a little amount of coffee can cause absolute health effects for your feline friend and even kill it.
Therefore, regardless of the amount of coffee that your cat has helped itself to, speedy treatment is paramount.
Your vet will diagnose the cat and determine the level of caffeine toxicity in its body. Then, they’ll recommend a raft of treatments depending on the severity of the
Some of the methods of treating caffeine toxicity in cats include;
✔ Administering activated charcoal to adsorb the caffeine in the cat’s stomach,
✔ Administering IV therapy to rehydrate the cat in case it has lost a lot of body fluids through vomiting,
✔ Using urinary catheter to empty the cat’s bladder more frequently and prevent the reabsorption of caffeine into the cat’s bladder walls,
✔ Medications to calm down a racing heart, regulate abnormal heartbeats, and lower high blood pressure,
✔ Anti-convulsant medications to relieve neurological symptoms like seizures and tremors, and
✔ Antacid medications to relieve elevated stomach acidity.
Perhaps you’re still wondering, is it safe for cats to drink coffee?
Well, as we’ve just seen, caffeine poisoning is a serious medical condition for cats. Even if your cat survives the ordeal, you’ll have shelled out huge bucks just to save its life. That’s all the more reason to keep coffee away from your cat.
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Additional Effects of Coffee for Cats
Is coffee good for cats?
So far, all the effects of coffee for cats suggest that the drink is highly toxic and shouldn’t be offered to cats in any amount. But if you thought that caffeine and theobromine are the only chemicals in coffee to be worried about, you’re in for a rude shock.
Typically, coffee comes in different shapes and forms, including;
- Caffé Americano,
- Caffé macchiato,
- Caffé mocha,
- Cortado coffee,
- Doppio coffee,
- Espresso coffee,
- Flat white coffee,
- Ice coffee,
- Irish coffee,
- Latte coffee,
- Long black coffee,
- Ristretto coffee, etc.
Don’t let the fancy names fool you; neither of the above coffees is safe for cats. In addition to caffeine and theobromine, the following are other common coffee ingredients that are considered harmful for cats;
One of the adverse effects of milk for cats is lactose intolerance. As you may already know, cats are lactose intolerant as they do not have the enzyme lactase, which digests lactose.
Therefore, consuming milk might lead to gastrointestinal distress, which usually manifests in vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
Another common concern with milk is its high fat content, which usually exists in the form of cream. Excess fat in your cat’s body might cause weight-related conditions like obesity, as well as heart and cardiovascular diseases.
Sweeteners and flavor enhancers are other popular ingredients found in coffee, which also happen to be some of the many foods that cats should not eat. These ingredients are more common in caffeinated drinks like soda and energy supplements.
One of the common sweeteners that’s widely discouraged for cats is sugar. Like fats, high sugar content is a risk factor for heart and cardiovascular diseases, thanks to the adverse effects of sugar on blood pressure.
Sugar is also associated with diabetes and dental problems in cats. The toxicity of sugar for cats is one of the reasons experts discourage coffee ice cream. You may have been wondering, can cats have coffee ice cream? Well, you’ve got your answer right there.
In addition to sugar, other toxic coffee sweeteners include chocolate syrup and vanilla extract. Just like sugar, these sweeteners are a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and dental problems. Chocolate receives more condemnation as it’s laden with theobromine.
What of decaffeinated drinks, can cats drink decaf coffee?
Now, there’s a common misconception that decaf coffee is safe for cats, seeing as it’s free of caffeine.
Nothing can be further from the truth. The apparent lack of caffeine in coffee doesn’t necessarily make a caffeinated drink safe for your kitto. That’s because the drink might still be laced with the numerous harmful ingredients we’ve highlighted here.
And the same goes for sugar-free chocolate. Remember that sugar-free chocolate is usually formulated with xylitol. Though the compound is relatively harmless to humans, it carries a degree of toxicity to cats.
Lastly, you should remember that after all is said and done, coffee is a plant-based product. Being an obligate carnivore, your cat’s diet should comprise more than 80% animal protein.
The fact that coffee is plant-based means that your cat’s digestive system will flag it off as a foreign substance and that may trigger gastrointestinal distress.
One saving grace when it comes to coffee and cats is that your kitto is unlikely to be fascinated with the drink. Generally, cats find the smell of coffee a bit repulsive. So, do coffee grounds deter cats?
Yes, coffee grounds may be a deterrent for cats due to their smell.
What Should Cats Drink?
Now that cats should not drink coffee, you’re probably wondering if there’s any drink that you can safely offer your kitto. Generally, cats should drink water. Water performs numerous crucial roles in your cat’s body.
Some cat owners may be excited about giving their feline friends coffee, arguing that since coffee is a liquid, it helps with rehydration.
Again, that’s a terrible assumption. On the contrary, coffee is a notorious dehydrating agent. So, in addition to all the potential side effects of coffee for cats that we’ve discussed, coffee might also dehydrate your cat.
Always ensure that your cat’s water bowl is full as that will prevent the temptation to drink just about anything that the cat comes across. If your cat doesn’t seem to drink enough plain water, you might consider flavoring the water using a healthy sweetener.
Better yet, you can offer your cat broth, as long as it’s made from pure chicken, meat, or seafood. Vegetable broth is also encouraged as it contains a bit of fiber that might help with your cat’s digestion.
When offering broth to your cat, be it homemade or packaged broth, ensure it’s free of condiments or spices that are considered safe for cats, such as salt, onion, garlic, etc.
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So, can cats have coffee?
The answer to that question remains an unequivocal no. Coffee contains caffeine and theobromine, plus a host of additives that are highly toxic to cats.
Caffeine poisoning, for instance, is fatal if not addressed with the urgency it deserves. The only drinks that your cat can safely have include water and broth. In the case of broth, ensure that it’s not laced with spices or condiments.