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Can Cats Eat Grapes?

Sure, our cats like to get into things. They like to explore. They must know what we’re doing at all times, especially if those activities do not include showering them with copious amounts of attention. It’s those lovingly annoying traits that make them such interesting housemates. But curiosity really can kill the cat. If they get into the wrong food, it can spell big trouble for them.

Cat sniffing a bowl of grapes, but is this safe?  Can cats eat grapes or not?
All cat owners should know the answer to the question Can cats eat grapes?

Grapes, believe it or not, are one of those trouble foods. They can make your cat very sick. They have the potential to send your cat to the ER, and if their effects aren’t treated fast enough, they can be lethal.

In this article, we fully answer the question Can cats eat grapes? Read on to learn why you need to keep your cat away from grapes and what to do if they do come into contact with the fruit.

Can Cats Eat Grapes? The Definitive Answer.

Since we spend so much time with our cats, it might seem that our bodies can handle the same food. We let cats lick up leftovers on our plate. We toss them some small scraps of food, which they eat up with aplomb. Usually, this is meat or dairy, which they love to seek out. But the thing is, grapes are potentially poisonous to cats.

Poisonous.

Humans can eat grapes without issue. Cats cannot. If a cat ingests a grape or raisin, which is just a dried grape, then they can get sick with grape toxicosis. It’s one of the few foods that both species can’t enjoy together, which can make cat owners scratch their head.

It’s Still a Medical Mystery

What adds to the confusion is that scientists don’t know why grapes are poisonous to cats. In fact, most of their findings on the topic are based on how dogs react to grapes. It’s well-documented that grapes are poisonous for dogs, and to be safe, the veterinary community extends that warning to cats. They’ve kept up that recommendation as they’ve continued to collect findings from vets dealing with sick cats.

The toxicity of grapes is caused by a negative reaction to something in the grape that the cat is unable to metabolize. Scientists believe it could be the tannins in the grape, the chemicals on the skin that give grapes their color. There may be other chemical compounds inside the grape that don’t agree with cats’ digestive tracks. Additionally, some researchers suspect that certain pesticides used for growing grapes are what’s causing the illness.

Don’t Take Any Risks — Zero Grape Policy For Your Cat

There is a chance that your cat could eat a grape and be fine, but it’s not worth the risk. Grape toxicosis can lead to kidney failure in cats. But before it even gets to that point, it will leave cats very ill and dealing with extremely painful symptoms.

Grape toxicosis extends across the grape kingdom so to speak. Any type of grape is off-limits to cats. The variety of grape, the color of the grape (red, green purple), and whether or not they’re seeded do not alter the toxicity of grapes. Do not try and feed your cat grapes in any form. This includes grape juice, the aforementioned raisins, and grape oil. Any meals or dishes created with grapes or raisins, e.g. raisin bread, should be avoided, too.

A white cat next to a plate of grapes.

What To Do If Your Cat Ingests a Grape

First off, don’t panic. You’re going to have to monitor and likely involve a vet, so having a cool head will enable you to stay focused.

If your cat ingested a grape or grape product, keep a close eye on them for the first six hours. They may not have a reaction and will go about their day. But it’s a strong possibility that they will immediately have digestive issues.

Stomach Upset

An upset stomach is a major red flag that something isn’t right. Ironically, despite their love of attention, for many cats, when they’re not feeling well, they keep it to themselves. They won’t be hopping on your lap and rubbing their tummy. You will have to be on the lookout for the signs of toxicity.

Vomiting

Repeated vomiting is a likely symptom of stomach issues, especially in the first few hours. This is their body trying to expunge the toxins from their system. We all know cats love to throw up, but if they’re throwing up multiple times in a row, and if nothing is coming out, then contact your vet.

Dehydration

Dehydration is another symptom. This means that the toxicity is started to impact their kidney functionality. Dehydration can manifest in increased thirst. Are they hitting up their water dish more than usual? Are they having trouble urinating?

Lethargy

Cats will get overcome with lethargy and weakness if they get sick. If they’re throwing up a lot, then they’re using up energy. This can be a tough one to gauge since cats can sleep for much of the day. But they will have an overall sluggishness. Are they running over when you have treats in your hand? Will they engage with their cat toys? Are they walking slower than usual?

Other Symptoms

More severe symptoms may include tremors and the inability to urinate.

Have an Emergency Number Handy

Grape toxicosis is a progressive illness; it will get worse the longer it goes untreated. If you start to notice anything suspicious, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). They can help you analyze symptoms. Reach out to your vet or take your cat to an emergency animal clinic if it’s off hours.

A vet examining a cat.

How To Treat Grape Toxicosis.

There’s no antidote for grape poisoning. The cure is to get it out of your cat’s system. Getting your cat treatment in a timely fashion will keep them healthy. Time matters with toxicosis.

No Hydrogen Peroxide Home Remedies!

Your vet may have you try and induce vomiting, which can help get the grape out of their system. Do not feed your cat hydrogen peroxide as that will cause more stomach upset.

Other Veterinary Action

If vomiting is not working, the vet may administer activated charcoal, an oral medication. Activated charcoal is like a super powerful magnet that can pull toxic substances to it as it passes through the digestive tract and then carries them out of the body. It is not available over the counter. Do not use your own charcoal from a grill or fireplace as a substitution.

Your cat may also have to go on IV fluids to recoup the fluids they lost from diarrhea and vomiting. The vet will likely do blood work to evaluate kidney functionality. Your cat will be monitored for up to 72 hours with regular IV and blood work checks to ensure it’s out of their system.

Think For Your Cat and Keep Them Safe

To avoid all this pain, and the subsequent medical bills, keep your cat away from all grape products. Don’t put your curious cat in a situation where they could sneak a piece of grape or a rogue raisin. Don’t leave grapes unattended on a table top they could hop. Avoid table scraps that include grapes or raisins in them. And be safe to watch over your shopping bags when you’re unpacking from the grocery store.

There’s a good chance your cat won’t be interested in grapes. Cats are obligate omnivores. They subsist on a meat-protein rich diet. They evolved to not need fruits and vegetables in their diet.

Quite literally, they aren’t wired to eat fruit. Humans have 9,000 taste buds. Cats only have 470. Many of those taste buds are used to detect bitterness, which helps them weed out toxins in the environment. They don’t have the ability to detect sweet, so they will get no pleasure from eating grapes. If a cat is attracted to fruit, it’s not the sweetness they’re craving. It’s the fat content.

Keep plenty of treats that are good for cats on hand so they’ll be less likely to pay attention to fruits or vegetables.

Final Words on Cats and Grapes

A cat reaching toward a plate with grapes on it.

In conclusion, cats and grapes do not mix. They can’t enjoy the sweetness of a grape, and ingesting any part of a grape could potentially lead to sickness and kidney failure. While humans can savor the crisp taste and benefit from the vitamin C, for cats, there is only downside.

Has this got you wondering what other fruits are and aren’t safe for kitty? You’ll find the answers in our other “Can Cats Eat” blog posts (if you’ve got canine family members, don’t forget about them!). To learn more about grapes, click here all our grape blog posts.