Can cats eat Grapes and Raisins?
Posted by Amira | Dec 3, 2016 | Nutrition
As you are munching on your delicious snacks – be it grapes or raisins – your beloved cat comes along staring at you begging for some pieces.
It is definitely hard to resist in this situation. But! While it feels good to treat our cats with foods from our plate, it can also be dangerous.
In fact, there are plenty of foods that have unpleasant side effects or even life-threatening impacts to our cats. So before you offer some bites to your cat, be aware if it is cat-safe or dangerous.
So what about your snacks in your hand? Can cats eat grapes and raisins? Read on to find out all the details.
Can cats eat Grapes and Raisins? – No, not at all
The concise answer to the question can cats eat grapes and raisins is no, not at all. Cats cannot eat grapes and raisins. In fact, they can be very harmful to cats. Apart from grapes and raisins, their different varieties – like currants and sultanas – are also considered dangerous to cats.
Additionally, these fruits are not part of a feline’s proper diet and carry no nutritional benefits, so there is no use of feeding your cat grapes or raisins.
Moreover, they carry more harm than good to cats. Therefore, it is best to keep your cat away from any form of grapes.
Important note: When I refer to grapes within this article, it includes every type (green or dark blue, seeds or seedless, normal or dried) and everything that can contain grapes like wine, jam, juice, jelly, or anything that has grapes flavor such as cookies, muffins or cakes.
Why can’t cats eat grapes and raisins? Are grapes bad for cats?
With their tiny size and delicious flavor, people tend to think of grapes and raisins as the perfect healthy snacks for cats. So how come it is better to keep cats away from them? Let’s take a closer look why are grapes bad for cats.
About grapes, raisins and cats
Grapes are small round berry fruits that are made up of juicy flesh and smooth skin. They grow in clusters and typically green, black, dark blue, and yellow in color.
They can be eaten fresh, but they are also widely used for making jam, jelly, juice, wine, vinegar or oil. They can also be found in different oatmeal blends, cookies, muffins or cakes.
Raisins, currants and sultanas are actually different types of dried grapes.
The texture, flavor, and variety of grapes have made them a very popular fruit-based snacks in countries all over the world.
They are not only tasty but healthy as well. The potential health benefits of consuming grapes are just countless as they contain numerous of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Some of the health benefits of grapes include: lowering cholesterol level, reducing inflammation, helping overcome constipation, curing migraine and asthma, and reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
So adding grapes into your diet is surely beneficial to you. But just because something is good for you, it does not mean it is good for your cat as well.
While these fruits offer plenty of health benefits for people, they do not offer any nutritional value, and actually can be potential health threats to cats – be it green or dark blue, seeds or seedless, fresh or dried.
Are cats allergic to grapes and raisins?
Just like humans, cats can be allergic to certain foods as well. Therefore, it is definitely possible that a particular cat develops an allergy to grapes or raisins.
However, the biggest problem with grapes and cats are not allergy. While it is absolutely possible that a cat becomes sick due to allergy, the exact problem why grapes and raisins are very dangerous to cats is something else.
Then why are grapes and raisins bad for cats?
While grapes and raisins are super healthy and delicious snacks for humans, they are absolutely not suitable for cats.
The problem that cats have with grapes and raisins is basically not due to being allergic to them. Rather, it is due to the fact that the consumption of these fruits presents a potential kidney failure to cats.
Unfortunately, it is not completely understood why and how this happens. Despite several scientific researches, the exact reason and the underlying harmful substance is still a mystery and has to be identified.
Researchers explored different possibilities to determine the exact cause and found that pesticides, herbicides or heavy metals are not the problems.
As of today, the current theory suggests that the harmful compound can be found in the inner, fleshy part of the grapes rather than the skin or seed, and there have been no documented problems associated with the grape seed extract.
Since raisins, currants and sultanas are just dried versions of grapes; they contain this dangerous substance in even higher concentrations. Therefore, they are more harmful to cats.
Another confusing issue in this matter is the fact that not all cats will react the same way. Some cats seem to experience no side effects, while others can have serious kidney problems afterward.
This means that some cats can happily eat significant quantities of grapes and raisins and have no issue with it, while the others will suffer immediate kidney failure after ingesting just a few pieces.
Unfortunately, it is absolutely impossible to know which cat will be sensitive to grapes and raisins.
Cats of any age, breed or gender can be affected. In fact, some cats that have eaten grapes in the past with no problem ultimately may run into trouble with them.
After all, studies have shown that cats that are more prone to kidney disease or cats with preexisting kidney failure have a higher risk of becoming ill after ingesting grapes or raisins.
So are grapes and raisins poisonous to cats?
As discussed, grapes and raisins are bad, harmful for cats due to a dangerous compound found in the fleshy part of these fruits. Though, the exact problem is still quite mysterious.
Now you might be wondering if grapes are poisonous to cats. To get the exact answer let us rely on a reliable source of pet information.
The ASPCA – an American Animal Poison Control Centre – advises that it is best to avoid feeding pets grapes and raisins until more information and research is conducted on the topic.
Since cats have extremely low tolerance due to their sensitive digestive system, even small amounts of grapes can have significant impacts on their body resulting in serious sickness (like kidney failure) or even death.
Raisins are even more dangerous due to the less watery content (as they are actually dried grapes) therefore the higher concentration level of the harmful substance.
Since grapes and raisins contain an extremely dangerous (but unknown) compound that could cause a potential health threat to cats, they should be considered poisonous unless new research proposes otherwise.
Consequently, even though the reason is not completely clear, there have been enough severe illness in cats to put grapes and raisins on the list of forbidden foods.
To be on the safe side, until more exact information is released, it is best not to take the risk and avoid giving your cat grapes and raisins altogether.
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How much grapes and raisins can a cat eat?
In general, low amount of human food here or there should not cause any severe health problems to cats. However, this statement cannot be applied to grapes or raisins.
While it is known that grapes and raisins can cause severe kidney failure in cats, unfortunately, there is no exact amount documented that could cause this problem.
Since there is no proper formula or dosage that shows exactly how much of grapes or raisins might be life-threatening to cats, we have to be exceptionally careful.
But! While the exact dose is unknown, there is an estimation. The estimated amount is as incredibly low as a third of an ounce of grapes per pound of body weight.
Raisins are even more concentrated, therefore, the dangerous amount that can lead to health issues is even lower, 0.05 ounces per pound of body weight.
The type of grape or raisin doesn’t seem to matter. However, different cats can show different side effects. While some of them are just fine with some pieces, others will suffer the consequences after ingesting even just a piece.
In addition, even if a cat seems to tolerate grapes and raisins, please do not make it a habit as regular consumption can make her eventually sick because of the toxin that builds up in her body over time.
So all things considered, since even a small amount (1-2 pieces) of grapes or raisins can make a cat ill and even lead to rapid kidney failure, any amount of grapes and raisins should be considered life-threatening to cats.
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What happens if a cat eats grapes and raisins? – Signs of grape/raisin toxicity in cats
Since grapes and raisins can be dangerous to cats, and they can commonly be found in households, it is every cat owner’s best interest to keep their cats away from them.
However, accidents can happen, and cats can manage to eat some pieces, so it is very important to know and understand the health risks involved.
If a cat eats grapes or raisins, she will most probably start showing symptoms of poisoning. The impact of grape/raisin toxicity in a cat will vary depending on the amount and type of grapes that have been eaten.
When a cat consumes grapes or raisins, there are a number of symptoms that could occur. Some can be mild while others more dangerous, life-threatening or even fatal.
The early signs include strange behavior, lethargy, upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity.
In advanced cases, the symptoms are more alarming and often include weakness, increased body temperature, irregular or rapid heartbeat, disorientation, tremors or seizures.
One of the most serious, typical problems after grape or raisin consumption is acute kidney failure. Increased urination, excessive drinking, decreased appetite and weight loss are the signs of loss of kidney function.
Eventually, the extreme result of grape or raisin ingestion in cats can be difficult breathing, coma and possibly death.
If you suspect that your cat has eaten grapes or raisins, monitor her for several days as symptoms can occur immediately, within the first 6-24 hours, and progress rapidly, but may also take up to 36-48 hours to show themselves.
Keep in mind that the first signs are vomiting and diarrhea and they are actually the simplest ways for your cat’s tiny body to remove the harmful toxin. However, without veterinarian examination, it is not sure that all of it would leave the body naturally.
So if you notice any of the mentioned signs, remain calm and contact your veterinarian immediately.
My cat ate grapes/raisins! What to do? – Diagnosis, treatments
After having knowledge about all the risks grapes and raisins could cause to a cat, you will most probably avoid giving them to your cat. However, accidents can and will happen, so you can easily find yourself in that worrying situation where you want to know what exactly to do if your cat manages to eat some pieces of grapes or raisins.
Immediate home care
First of all, do not panic and try to remain calm. While all the symptoms may sound very scary, if caught in an early stage and treated quickly, your cat will make a full recovery. For this very reason, time and early recognition are highly critical. Therefore, it is very important to act and do the right things immediately.
Once you suspect your cat has eaten some grapes or raisins, take notice of the type, and amount consumed along with the symptoms occurred in your cat, and call the nearest veterinarian or animal emergency clinic straight away.
As an immediate action, the vet may ask you to eliminate the toxins from your cat’s body right away by inducing vomiting. This will prevent the dangerous ingredients from being absorbed and will reduce the risk of further health problems.
Depending on the severity, as the next step, the veterinarian may also ask you to take your cat to his clinic along with a sample of your cat’s vomit for further diagnosis and treatment.
Important note: If your cat ingests a large amount of grapes or raisins and experiences symptoms of poisoning, you can skip these points and take her to the nearest veterinarian or pet hospital straight away for thorough examination and treatment.
Since grapes or raisins ingestion can cause irreparable kidney damage and also can lead to poisoning, time is definitely important. The faster you are, the better chances your cat has. Meaning, reacting fast enough can save your cat’s life so please do not hesitate and act immediately.
At the vet
Once you are at the veterinarian or pet hospital with your cat, you might be questioned about your cat’s condition, her symptoms and the type and amount of grapes she has ingested. They may also ask for the sample of your cat’s vomit.
You can also expect a thorough physical examination including urine and blood test. The results of all these tests will help to determine the diagnosis and define if the cat has any kidney problems or grape poisoning.
After identifying the condition of the cat, the vet will start the treatment according to the severity of the problem.
If the grape/raisin consumption is recent (within the last one or two hours), the doctor may induce vomiting to empty the cat’s stomach and to get rid of the undigested grapes. Activated charcoal might also be administered to your cat to absorb any remaining toxins left in the gastrointestinal system.
If further treatment is necessary, your cat will most likely be put on intravenous fluid therapy for the next two days to prevent dehydration and to induce urine production.
The veterinarian may also provide medications to control the side effects, and may monitor the cat for several days by blood tests to check the kidney function.
In general, the cat will be hospitalized until she has recovered completely, which may take several (3-4) days.
Keep in mind that treatment will be provided according to the amount ingested, the severity of the poisoning, and the reaction a cat has to the toxin. Therefore, it may vary from cat to cat.
After the vet
After the veterinary treatment, keep your cat in a quiet and comfortable environment, and make sure she gets enough fresh water in the upcoming days. She may also need a change of her diet to avoid further problems (only if your veterinarian suggests). And meanwhile, please keep the grapes and raisins away from your cat.
Important note: this article is no substitute for veterinary guidance. Please always follow your veterinarian’s advice. Since grape and raisin toxicity is a dangerous health condition and can escalate quickly causing other serious issues, please make sure to treat grape ingestion as an emergency and act accordingly.
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Prevention – How to avoid the problem?
Now, that we are aware of all the risks and effects of grape and raisin consumption in cats, it is useless to say that the best way to keep your cat away from going through the sufferings is to prevent the problem itself.
The best form of prevention is to keep all the grape items in all forms (be it other varieties like raisins, sultanas or currants, or other different foods that can contain grapes like wine, jam, juice, jelly, cookies, muffins or cakes) out of your cat’s reach.
While most cats are not really attracted to fruits like grapes and raisins, they may still end up eating some pieces no matter how cautious we are.
So to be on the safe side, all foods that contain grapes and raisins should be safely stored in places that are not accessible to your cat. In this case, please keep in mind that cats have amazing climbing skills and a strong sense of smell. Therefore, it is wise to store these foods in firmly closed containers and cabinets.
Although some cats seem to experience no side effects, it is best not to offer anything that might contain grapes o raisins.
In addition, please make sure to educate people – who might interact with your cat – about the dangerousness of grapes and raisins, as well as other common foods that are poisonous to cats like chocolate, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
Conclusion – Can cats eat grapes and raisins?
As a responsible cat owner, you want to make sure your cat eats the best kind of cat food she requires along with some occasional special treats.
And while there are many human foods that cats can eat as healthy snacks, bear in mind that grapes and raisins are not one of them. In fact, they can be very dangerous causing a potential kidney failure and poisoning to cats.
Since even a small amount (1-2 pieces) of grapes or raisins can make a cat ill and even lead to rapid kidney failure, it is best not to offer any type of grapes (or foods that contain grapes in any form) to our cats.
It is also wise to stow away all the grape items out of your cat’s reach. And if an accident happens, and your cat manages to eat some, make sure to use your best judgment, remain calm and contact your nearest vet immediately.
Important note: this article has been provided for informational purposes only, and not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. If your cat is showing any signs of illness, please consult your veterinarian and follow his advice precisely.