Pet Consider

Can Cats Drink Coffee?

Can I Give My Cat Coffee?

There is only one genuine addiction that we brag about: coffee. While professing your hopeless addiction to alcohol, gambling, or cake will elicit concern at the best and judgment at the worse, identifying yourself as a coffee addict is considered a symbol of responsibility and adulthood. Coffee is an integral part of the lives of most working adults. We drink it hot in the winter and iced in the summer. We can buy all sorts of flavored brews (some of which are seasonally appropriate), we can smother it in cream and sugar, and we can bake with it to infuse our favorite desserts with the bitter, energizing sing of coffee beans. Buying someone a cup of coffee is the ultimate symbol of love and respect.

On a cold winter morning, we may be tempted to pour some coffee into our cat’s bowl to help warm them up. After all, the poor darlings have to wander around barefoot on the cold floor all day! It seems that we owe them a warm beverage after forcing them off of our warm bed again and again. But is this a good idea? Can cats have coffee?

The answer: no, cats should not drink coffee in any amount. While some beverages are not recommended simply because they fall into the unhealthy category (think sweetened juices and punches), coffee surpasses ‘not recommended’ straight into ‘forbidden’ territory. Our coffee beverages are often loaded with caffeine, fat, sugar, and artificial sweeteners, which are all dangerous to cats. Even if you like your coffee black, the caffeine content can result in fatal poisoning. Don’t panic if your cat laps up a couple drops of coffee off the floor, but refrain from giving them any of this hot beverage intentionally. If your cat accidentally consumes a significant amount of anything containing coffee, take them to the vet’s office as soon as possible.

Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Cat Coffee

Though the potential health effects coffee has for humans are hotly debated, there is no evidence in favor of giving coffee to your cat. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they have little need for plant foods of any kind. Their ancestors certainly did not have the opportunity to drink coffee in the wild. If you are looking for the best way to keep your cat hydrated, healthy, and regular, the only think you should give them to drink is water—coffee should not be used as a laxative or as an energy drink for your feline friend.

coffee in a cup

There is no good reason, from a health standpoint, to give your cat any type of coffee beverage, whether it is decaffeinated, iced, or diluted with creamers, sweeteners, or milk products. Many of the ingredients we use to make our favorite coffee drinks delicious can have disastrous effects on our cats’ health.

Fancy, heavily flavored coffee drinks are often extremely high in calories, which increase your cat’s chances of winding up overweight or obese. To make matters worse, they often contain high amounts of sugar, which can contribute to diabetes and dental health problems. The creamers and other dairy products we use will do our cats no favors, either—cats can’t digest dairy products properly, and may suffer from severe bloating, gas, vomiting, or diarrhea. On top of all that, a lot of coffee drinks are flavored with chocolate, which is also poisonous to cats. Yikes!

Things to Keep in Mind

But even black coffee is not suitable for our pets. As anyone who has had one too many energy drinks can attest, caffeine can cause a whole host of uncomfortable or unpleasant symptoms, some of which can be scary or even life-threatening. While humans can handle a fair amount of caffeine on a regular basis without suffering any significant health problems, our cats are extremely susceptible to caffeine poisoning. Because they are so small, they are even more prone to caffeine overdose than our canine companions.

What does caffeine overdose look like? Because caffeine is a powerful stimulant, symptoms of caffeine poisoning often look very different from other types of toxicity. Cats who consume too much caffeine may start off with symptoms such as restlessness, hyperactivity (or bouncing off the walls), and increased heart rate. Other symptoms include vomiting, high blood pressure, tremors, irregular heartbeat, increased body temperature, and seizures. Left untreated, caffeine overdose is often fatal.

When it comes to minimizing the damage done, speedy treatment is the key. If you suspect your cat has consumed a fair amount of coffee, take them to the vet’s office. To minimize absorption and head off overdose, your veterinarian may administer activated charcoal, induce vomiting, or both.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, no matter how cold it is outside, you should not share your fresh coffee with your feline friend. Both black coffee and heavily sweetened coffee drinks contain caffeine, which can have severe, even life-threatening, adverse effects. Turn up the thermostat a few degrees and stick with room temperature water.

 

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