- Grapes are toxic to cats — Grapes are a dangerous fruit for cats to ingest and can cause kidney failure.
- All grapes and raisins are toxic to cats — Whether store-bought, homegrown, or organic, every variety of grape or raisin is poisonous to cats. So is grape juice.
- Scientists aren’t sure why — Research shows that tannins are why grapes are poisonous to dogs. Cats have the same symptoms, but scientists aren’t sure if it’s due to tannins.
Why grapes are bad for cats
Scientists and veterinarians haven’t yet determined why exactly grapes are toxic to cats. For dogs, the tartaric acid in grapes causes diarrhea, vomiting, kidney failure, and other symptoms. While it hasn’t been proven that tartaric acid is toxic to cats, there have been reports of similar symptoms in cats.
By nature, cats are obligate carnivores, which means they primarily rely on foods made from animal products for nutrients. Cats don’t require sweet fruit in their diet for their nutritional needs.
Signs of grape poisoning in cats
If your cat consumes grapes, the most common initial side effect is vomiting, and it usually happens within 24 hours. Here are other symptoms of grape toxicity pet parents should look out for:
- Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Gastrointestinal upset may begin within 24 hours of your cat eating just a single grape.
- Lethargy and weakness. Your cat may seem groggy, disoriented, or excessively tired.
- Lack of appetite and/or dehydration. Your cat may show little to no interest in eating or drinking water.
- Rapid breathing and abdominal pain. Your cat’s breathing may increase significantly, and they may appear distressed.
- Ammonia-like breath. This symptom is a sign that your cat is experiencing kidney failure.
- Excessive thirst and urination. Your cat may start drinking a large amount of water and urinate frequently, then suddenly stop being able to pass urine. This is another sign of the rapid development of kidney failure.
- Coma. If left untreated, grape toxicity in cats can result in a coma and fatality in as little as 48 hours after ingestion.
What to do if your cat eats grapes
If your cat consumes a grape — yes, even just one! — bring them to the vet right away. Because veterinarians still aren’t sure how many grapes a cat can have before it becomes dangerous, any number of grapes could be toxic to your furry friend.
🚨Take a cat to the vet as soon as you know it’s ingested a grape. If you’re unsure, watch for the symptoms of poisoning.
Once you arrive at the vet’s office, they will likely give your cat some medicine to induce vomiting to remove the grapes from their system and try to prevent them from absorbing any more of the toxins. After the vet is sure the grapes have cleared your cat’s system, they’ll administer activated charcoal to clear up the remaining toxic material that may still be in your cat.
🚨Never try to induce vomiting — leave this cat care to a trusted professional.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne
With ingestion of grapes, veterinarians will also recommend lab work at the time of the visit and recommend repeating it within 24-48 hours if it is initially normal.
If your kitty has eaten several toxic substances, they may require intensive treatment, such as constant monitoring or IV fluids to prevent their kidneys from failing. If treated immediately, your cat should recover in 2-3 days.
How to prevent grape poisoning in cats
While it can be scary to think about our beloved pets getting sick from something as common as grapes or raisins, there are easy steps to prevent the risk of grape poisoning. Be sure to keep grapes out of reach, either stored in a cabinet or the refrigerator. If grapes happen to fall on the floor, be sure to dispose of them immediately. Also keep other grape products out of reach, such as raisin bread, grape juice, or dehydrated grapes.
It’s also important to be aware of the other human foods and plants around the house that can be dangerous for your cat including chocolate and garlic. If your kitty is especially interested in eating grapes or other sweet fruits, strawberries may be a good alternative. These berries are OK to give sparingly as an occasional treat to your cat.
Frequently asked questions
What should I do if my cat licks a grape?
If your cat licked a grape without ingesting it, monitor your cat for any signs of illness or unusual behavior, and bring them to the vet immediately if they seem ill. If you discover your cat ingested any part of the grape, don’t hesitate to take your pet to the vet’s office right away.
What part of the grape is toxic to cats?
It’s not clear what makes grapes toxic to cats. It may be cats’ inability to metabolize the tannins in grapes. Tannins are heavily found in the skin and seeds of grapes but are present in the whole berry. Or it may be the tartaric acid found in grapes, which is also toxic to dogs. Tartaric acid is synthesized in grape leaves but also transfers to the whole grape berry.
Are cats attracted to grapes?
All pets are different. While some cats may not be interested in trying to eat a grape, others might be curious or want to eat them. It’s best to keep grapes where cats can’t access them.
Can one grape harm a cat?
Yes, even one or small amounts of one grape can harm or be potentially fatal to a cat.
Are grapevines toxic to cats?
There have been no reported instances of cats being poisoned by grapevines. However, as tartaric acid is thought to be transferred to the grape berry from the leaf, it is best to keep cats away from the plant entirely.