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How much lemon is poisonous to cats?

Can Cats Eat Lemons? Your Big Question Answered!

Minneopa Orchards

If you’ve ever asked yourself, can cats eat lemons? The answer is a firm no. Lemons and other citrus fruits can harm your feline friend because they contain toxic compounds that are poisonous to most domestic pets. These toxins are present not only in lemon fruits but also in lemon trees, so pet owners who are also lemon tree gardeners should exercise caution.

Consuming lemons, lemon juice, or other lemon products can be lethal if your cat does not urgently receive medical attention. Read on to find out the ins and outs of the question, can cats eat lemons?

Multicolored kitten sniffing lemons. If you have a cat, you may have wondered

Can Cats Eat Lemons? Why Not?

Lemons are hugely beneficial for humans. They’re full of vitamins and antioxidants and can be prepared for use and consumption in a number of different ways. However, the limonene, linalool, and psoralens compounds in lemon fruits and trees can be exceptionally harmful to cats.

Limonene, a key component of lemon oil, is responsible for the fruit’s pungent smell. While this is commonly used in cleaning products and even some animal shampoos and treatments, it is considered toxic to cats.

A second component, linalool, which acts as a natural insecticide, is equally harmful when ingested by felines or used as a topical treatment.

Furthermore, lemons also contain psoralens, which can cause skin irritation and other more severe skin disorders in cats. While psoralens are used in many human skin treatments, they are known to cause sensitivity to light and sun, resulting in skin burns in felines.

Fortunately, most cats are put off by the citrusy scent of lemon, so unless your kitties have a particular penchant for their sour taste, they shouldn’t opt to eat these fruits willingly. On rare occasions, however, the taste of lemons may be masked by other food components or embedded in cleaning products, in which case your cat may suffer visible symptoms of distress.

What Are Symptoms of Lemon Poisoning in Cats?

A curious animal may sniff or lick a lemon or bite down on the branch of a lemon tree. This kind of minimal exposure is not harmful, and more than likely, your cat will be repelled by both the smell and the taste and carry on living its life. Needless to say, should your cat consume pieces of lemon fruit or ingest lemon oil, it’s advisable to get them to the vet as soon as possible.

Consuming lemon may result in a combination of symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, weakness, lethargy, tremors, cold limbs, and low blood pressure. Skin exposure to any toxic compound of lemon oil may result in skin irritation or rash, photosensitivity, and depression.

Naturally, we cannot monitor a cat’s every move, so even if you only suspect they may have ingested lemon fruit, any of the above symptoms are serious enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.

A Siamese cat jumping off a counter where a basket of lemons is sitting. Since cats shouldn

Treating Lemon Poisoning in Cats

Your vet is the best person to prescribe a treatment plan for a sick pet in any situation. In the case of feline lemon poisoning, they will start by assessing how ill the animal is.

Treatment for toxin ingestion and gastrointestinal distress usually involves a combination of a gastric lavage procedure and activated charcoal. A gastric lavage will wash out the cat’s stomach, while charcoal creates a barrier for poisonous particles trying to enter the bloodstream.

Additional treatment measures may include electrolyte supplements and IV drips for rehydration. In the case of skin burn, a topical treatment plan will be prescribed. In exceptionally severe cases, cats already suffering from seizures may need medication for tremors and extra oxygen to help their organs recover.

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, ask your vet to do a complete physical examination.

Can Cats Recover From Lemon Poisoning?

Lemon poisoning is relatively rare because cats typically don’t eat anything with a strong citrus smell. However, cat parents know that they are a law unto themselves, so if your kitty does indeed munch a piece of lemon, don’t fear. Generally speaking, and with medical attention, cats can recover from this condition fully.

It is best to take them to the vet for regular checkups in the weeks following the poisoning event. Additionally, you may want to keep outdoor cats inside for a few days to monitor their symptoms and further signs of lemon poisoning.

A cat next to a window sniffing a bowl of lemons.

Using Lemon Water as a Deterrent for Fleas

I recently read that it is recommended to lightly spray a cat with lemon water as a natural repellant for fleas. Now that the question of can cats eat lemons has been answered, you must be wondering: is lemon water spray safe?

The simple answer is that fleas detest the smell of lemon, but so does your cat, more than likely. And we know that lemon juice and oil can be harmful if it makes contact with a cat’s skin.

Thus, if your kitty has a flea problem, opt for an anti-flea treatment that isn’t displeasing or potentially dangerous for your cat. You may want to try using vinegar since it’s non-toxic for cats and leftover vinegar can be repurposed in a myriad of ways.

Can I Keep a Lemon Tree if I Have a Cat?

Growing a lemon tree can be very satisfying, especially as they can be grown both indoors and outside. However, given that they can pose a risk to our furry friends, the decision to house lemon trees can be a little challenging.

Here’s the good news. As I mentioned earlier, most cats intensely dislike the smell of citrus fruits, so they will probably leave your trees alone. I do advise you, though, to monitor your cat’s behavior around your new lemon trees for the first couple of days or weeks.

If they leave the tree alone, you’re likely in the clear to keep your lemon trees in your garden, and your cat safe.

A multicolored cat on a clay tile roof near branches of a lemon tree. Since the answer to

Can Cats Eat Lemons FAQs

Q: Are citrus sprays bad for cats?

A: The popularity of essential oils is on the rise, and most citrus sprays contain them. Chemicals in essential oils are a source of toxins to cats and act quickly to make them ill. These oils absorb into the skin at a rapid rate, and cats, who have far fewer liver enzymes than humans, cannot effectively metabolize them. All of that aside, cats are usually quite distressed by citrusy smells. So the answer is yes, they are bad for cats!

Q: Will lemons keep cats away from my plants?

A: This is quite an effective trick when it comes to protecting your plants from the sharp claws and curiosity of cats. A few lemon peels sprinkled around the base of your plants might go a long way to offending cats’ sensitive noses. However, before attempting this, make sure your cat is not wont to consume citrus products.

Can Cats Eat Lemons? No!

While there is little reason for a cat to willingly eat a piece of lemon, it is not to say that it never happens. For this reason, it’s always good to equip yourself with the knowledge of what your pets can and can’t eat. Indeed, should you notice that your cat is distressed and suspect lemon is the culprit, make sure to get it to the vet as soon as possible. Now that you have answered the question can cats eat lemons? you might be wondering if your dog is a different story, so read on to learn all about dogs and lemons.

Ready for more lemon content? Next, visit our lemon trees page to discover more useful and fun information on lemon planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!

Posted on Last updated: September 15, 2022

Can Cats Eat Lemon? Lemon Poisoning in Cats

cat watching a plate with fish and lemon

Lemonade, lemon juice, lemon squares—humans eat lemons a lot. You might even have a lemon tree somewhere nearby, or you just buy lemons from the store that you bring home and your cat is a little curious about. Can cats eat lemon? How much lemon is toxic to a cat?

The answer is no, they should not consume it. Even just a small amount is a source of toxins that can give your cat stomach trouble due to its acidity. All citrus fruits are, so if you’ve got lemons in the house, make sure your cat stays away.

Can Cats Eat Lemon? Ingredients in Lemon that are Poisonous to Cats

You might notice that whenever you cut open lemons and other citrus fruits like oranges, your cat pulls back and maybe runs from the room. They don’t like the smell instinctually already, but what ingredients in lemon are actually toxic?

lemon in water close up

Citrus fruits like lemon have something called psoralen, which is a chemical that can work for people to treat conditions like psoriasis and other skin irritation. In felines, psoralen is very toxic to cats, and so is lemon peel which contains essential oil extracts such as limonene, and peel toxic compounds like linalool and phototoxic. Cats will have skin irritation if the cat’s skin comes into contact with these kinds of fruits. Even a small consumption of these compounds, especially psoralen and linalool can lead to your cat suffering skin burns when they’re out in the sunlight.

By the way, even the chemical that creates the lemon peel scent is toxic to your cat. That’s why you shouldn’t even use a product that has a lemon scent and use only pet products on your cat. You need to watch out for lemons as it contains essential oils and toxins with psoralen and linalool compounds that are poisonous to cats. In addition, it is also safe not to spray your cat with lemon water as an anti-flea or topical treatment.

Is Lemon Juice Bad for Cats? Can Cats Eat Lemon Juice?

Ah! My cat licked lemon juice! Cats should not drink lemon juices. Thanks to the toxins in the scent of lemon, your cat shouldn’t want to go anywhere near even a small amount of lemonade. If your cat smells it, you should notice them vomiting potentially, or their mood might dampen for the day.

Your cat shouldn’t want to drink the juice, but let’s say there’s a strong citrus scent or the flavoring is masked by other ingredients. If your feline friend does drink a small amount of lemon juice, you may notice vomiting and diarrhea, lethargy, skin irritation, tremors, seizures.

Symptoms of Lemon Poisoning in Cats

The compounds in lemon cause poisoning to your cat, which are unfortunately used in many cats and dogs shampoos. If you also have a dog, always make sure to use a different one for your cat, or maybe just use a non-lemon one just to be sure that your cat doesn’t get too close. Like if your cat likes to lick your dog, for example.

You will also want to avoid any soaps or fragrances that have the citrusy scent. This includes any insecticides. So while these cleaning products may not be problematic for you, you’ll need to make sure that your cat isn’t tasting them even accidentally. You need to hide those products well your curious cat may sniff them.

Not all lemon products smell very strongly of lemon, after all, and sometimes that flavoring and scent can be hidden by other smells. Your cat might taste something without you even noticing or thinking about it, so you should be on the lookout for some of the most common symptoms of poisoning.

Signs of Lemon Poisoning

Lemon poisoning causes gastrointestinal distress or even death, but only in extreme cases where your cat has ingested a large quantity of lemon water juice or lemons. More normally, you will notice some symptoms that you can talk to your veterinarian about to make sure that your cat will get the treatment they need to keep living healthily.

This includes common symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, skin irritation or rash, and weakness. It can also cause gastrointestinal upset. If you want to narrow it down to poisoning, look for excessive drooling, possible photosensitivity, depression, lethargy, cold limbs, and even collapse. Your doctor may possibly find that liver failure and low blood pressure are also symptoms.

If you’re trying to figure out if your cat has ingested lemon, you’ll want to look for some of the odder symptoms to give you a clue. This includes that photosensitivity, which means sensitivity to bright lights or the sun.

Your cat might cower or act in pain. Look for other changes in your cat’s behavior as well, things that you wouldn’t ordinarily see them doing.

All this is frightening, and you might understandably panic if you think your cat consumes any juice. But first off, know that poisons usually act quickly, which means that your cat will likely be displaying symptoms soon after ingestion. This contrasts with any usual illness, which may prompt your cat to hide in off places.

You should see symptoms of lemon poisoning immediately, and if you do, get it to the vet right away. Lemon poisoning does not have to end in death if it’s not severe and if you can get the treatment that your cat needs.

close up lemon


Get your cat to the emergency vet as soon as possible when you start to notice symptoms, and treatment will begin right away.

You will likely do a urinalysis or blood work to ensure that there are no other problems or underlying conditions that might be causing the symptoms instead. The vet may examine any stool or vomit to ensure that they know the source of the toxins. It’s not easy for you to know for sure that your cat ingested lemon, after all.

Typically, this treatment is all about getting that toxin out of your cat as quickly as possible by pumping your cat’s stomach by giving them activated charcoal. All of this will remove the lemon while getting rid of any lingering toxins.

The toxin is removed now, so you can breathe a sigh of relief. As a pet owner, make sure to tell your vet all of your cat’s symptoms though because if your cat had a lot of vomiting or stomach pain with diarrhea, your vet might give them some fluids for rehydration or intravenous fluids therapy and do gastric lavage procedure. It’s crucial to rehydrate your cat.


You’ve gotten the toxins out of your feline and have now guaranteed that they’ll be okay. This is great and is a good reason for you to be happy as a cat parent.

That being said, make sure that you still give your cat a little bit of recovery time. They did just go through quite the ordeal, after all. Your vet will help administer fluids if your cat needs it, and if you noticed that your cat has some sensitivity to sunlight, you should make sure to keep them indoors and maybe with your shades closed until they’re fully recovered.

Overall, lemon is bad for cats. Keep your furry friends away from it as much as possible. Keep your lemon fruits out of reach! Ultimately, your cat will generally make a good recovery from lemon poisoning, especially if you are able to bring them to the vet quickly.

Even if you only see some mild symptoms, it’s best to take your cat to the vet immediately. Just small amounts of lemon can be dangerous to your cat, which is why you should continue to bring them to the vet even after they’ve been checked out and treated.

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As an established writer in the Pet industry for the last 7 years and building a career at a couple of reputable Californian vets, Leigh has written countless pet articles to contribute to the industry’s wealth of knowledge. She is dedicated to helping readers and enjoys nothing more than exploring the outdoors with her children and pets. Find out more.

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