Cats are known for their picky eating and while they may not try to take one out of your hand while you are enjoying one of todays seedless varieties or even a handful of trail mix, you may still wonder can cats eat grapes?
When answering this, we will include raisins, jams, jellies and any type of grape seed extract including oils. Hopefully one of the most widely consumed grape based products – wine – does not need to be discussed in detail. In short, and should you really need to be told, do not ever give your cat or indeed any other pet alcohol or any other drug not recommended by your veterinarian under any circumstances. Ever.
Origins of grapes
Grapes are berries from the genus Vitis family of fruits. Grapes generally grow in clusters, and can grow up to 15 to 300 clusters at a time. Grapes originate from the Near East. Grapes can be black, dark blue, yellow, and green. They are widely used for making wine, juices, jelly, vinegar, and grape seed oil. Nowadays grapes are used for sauces and in various dishes as an important ingredient.
Grapes are beneficial for humans; they can reduce vascular damage and help elevate blood pressure. It is even suggested that they can prevent cancer, whether consuming grapes as a drink, juice or wine. Grapes contain important anti-oxidants that help reduce inflammation, boost the immune system, and keep you healthier, longer. Another benefit of grapes is their high water content. Grapes offer those who eat them the added hydration needed for a well circulated blood flow and circulatory system. Adding grapes into your diet is sure to keep your body hydrated, especially during hot and humid days. How about cats?
Can cats eat grapes?
According to ASPCA, grapes and raisins should not be fed to cats in any amount.
It is not quite clear to scientists why grapes, including raisins, are toxic to cats and dogs. It is best not to feed these fruits to your feline friend. Even small amount of grapes are not tolerated by cats. Grapes are wonderful sources of vitamins, nutrients, and hydration for the owners of cats, but not for the cats themselves. Simply because a fruit is good for you, does not mean the fruit is good for your pet.
Additionally, avoid sweets, such as cookies, bagels, muffins or breads that contain raisins. When grapes become dehydrated, the fruit becomes a raisin. When vets recommend a cat not eat grapes, the vet also means the cat should not eat raisins. Both versions of this fruit can be detrimental to your cat in the long run.
Now this type of warning is enough to rule out grapes for life for any cat lover, so why take the risk? And I am sure that after learning this, you are unlikely to forget. Let’s take a look at where this toxicity in grapes and raisins comes from.
The main culprit of toxicity is thought to be the “fleshy” inner of the grape, when in fact there have been no documented problems arising from grape seed extract. While your dog may be partial to a couple grapes here and there (and in a very limited amount which maybe fine), the toxic dose is unknown for cats. Cats and dogs tolerate foods differently, and when a fruit is eatable to one animal, may not be eatable to another. The toxicity of grapes in cats has been estimated to be as low as a third of an ounce per pound of body weight and incredibly 0.05 ounces per pound body weight for raisins. Most cats weigh a relatively low amount, therefore a very small amount of grape or raisins could have toxic consequences for your cat.
Accidents will happen of course, and if someone has left some raisin chocolate chip cookies out on the counter (chocolate being another serious no no) and you find crumbs on the floor, you will want to know what to do. It is possible your cat can eat a cookie with raisins, or nibble on grapes left on the counter, but the larger possibility is that your dog ate the food and left the crumbs. If you know for sure your cat is the culprit, you may need to take you cat to the vet right away. Watch your cat for any serious behavioral symptoms and report them to your vet. A cat should not be able to eat cookies and grapes without issue. Worst case scenario is that even a small amount will be toxic to your cat and cause serious problems, even death.
Symptoms of a grape toxicity
The symptoms of grape toxicity are relatively easy to spot and include; vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, decreased urination, abdominal pain and at its most extreme seizure or death. When observing your cat behaving strangely, then having these physical reactions, you can be sure your cat is having a reaction to the grape or raisin s/he ingested. These symptoms are good in some ways; the body is purging the ‘poison’ from the system and keeping the toxin level as low as possible. However, the body can only do so much to remove the toxin and a vet will need to clear the rest.
It is important to act quickly and the first measures to be taken are to induce vomiting (consult with your veterinarian over the phone if possible). This is most commonly accomplished by administering a three percent solution of Hydrogen peroxide, note that it is not the stronger kind used to color hair, three percent only.
This can most effectively be given with treats that your buddy loves to eat. One teaspoon (five milliliters) for every ten pounds of body weight should do the trick and you should see the effect in about ten to fifteen minutes. Next you should seek veterinary attention directly and as soon as possible.
Veterinary treatment may involve continued induction of vomiting, gastric leverage and possible administration of activated charcoal. There is no specific supportive treatment but with monitoring for kidney disease or even failure and treatment with fluids and medications, your cat should be fine in a few days.
The flip side of this coin, thankfully, is that cats in general do not like grapes. There have been very few (if indeed, any cases) of cats becoming severely ill after eating them. Your cat will most likely avoid a grape or raisin on its own, so do not offer grapes to your cat in an effort to boost their nutrition and hydration levels.
While you may not have to rummage around your cupboards throwing away what is usually only used once a year in Christmas puddings, keep in mind that your cat should not be exposed to grapes, even if s/he will not be eating them. If we are being honest with ourselves, pour out the last couple of glasses from last night’s Cabernet to be sure your cat does not drink the wine that has been leftover.
It does pay to have this knowledge in your back of your mind. It might save your or indeed someone else’s cat a good deal of discomfort and maybe give you something interesting to talk about when you are next showing off your best friend when getting together with other ailurophiles.
The bottom line seems to be that cats have been shown in many studies to have kidney problems regardless of diet so again it seems self-evident “Can cats eat grapes?” In a very simple and short word. No. Why take the risk?