I love to drink my coffee each and every morning. It gives me a real boost and sets me up nicely for the day. My cat often looks up at me during this time which got me thinking. Is it okay, safe, or even a good idea for a cat to drink coffee? Can they get any benefit or can it prove to be problematic if offered? Intrigued, I spent some time researching whether or not cats should be offered this beverage. I will be sharing all of my findings here with you today.
So, can cats drink coffee? Cats cannot and should not drink coffee, even in limited and small amounts. Coffee is naturally high in caffeine and other stimulatory compounds such as Theobromine which can be toxic and dangerous if ingested. Cats that consume a small amount of coffee will likely experience hyperactivity and digestive issues whereas, in larger quantities, it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and even fatal outcomes.
It’s not just coffee you need to keep away from your cat.
Chocolate and tea are other similarly related foods that also contain caffeine, theobromine, and other compounds that can cause severe toxicity.
And as a responsible cat owner, it’s not just about not offering them to your cat either.
You need to think about where they are left, too. You should not leave them lying around, or be in any way accessible to an inquisitive and experimental cat.
You need to take a precautious yet proactive approach; being aware of the best foods to meet their nutritional needs, while avoiding any that can prove problematic or dangerous.
If your cat does manage to accidentally ingest coffee, you will likely observe a change in their behavior and temperament – and it can come on quickly and worsen over time.
Initially, you may notice signs like elevated heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, and hyperactivity. It can even elevate body temperature, cause tremors and lead to vomiting/diarrhea.
Ultimately, it depends on the amount ingested; but it can be fatal in server cases.
Either way, if you suspect your cat has ingested coffee, contacting your vet at the earliest opportunity comes strongly advised.
With this information in mind, let us now take a closer look at the topic in further detail.
We will be answering those commonly asked and related questions. So, be sure to keep on reading to the end to get all the information you need!
Should Cats Drink Coffee?
Cats should not drink coffee; it’s completely irresponsible to provide coffee yo your cat or allow your cat to consume it.
This is true of any product containing caffeine and theobromine. These are two substances that have stimulatory effects when consumed. It’s why we feel that ‘high’ and energy surge each time we consume them.
Even us humans are advised to limit our intake, especially in the more sensitive individuals and those who do not seem to tolerate it well.
Cats, being much smaller, having a different metabolism, and who are not used to processing this kind of compound are even more sensitive still.
Ultimately, your cat’s well-being depends largely on what they do and do not consume. Part of caring for your cat’s health is about eliminating or preventing access to toxic foods altogether.
Cats are curious about everything their owners eat or drink, and this includes coffee!
You should therefore store foods out of your cat’s reach and never leave mugs or cups of coffee on the side.
Chocolate or other potentially toxic substances (like teabags) should never be left open, especially in your cat’s reach.
Remember, cats can jump extremely high!
Some owners decide to install cat-proof locks on cupboards and cabinets, and this works well for those more persistent kitties.
Moreover, you should never allow your cat to be able to climb or get onto the counter. Especially when you are preparing, cooking, or eating food.
Feeding table scraps is generally not recommended, as most foods are not most suitable for cats. A little bit of cooked chicken will not hurt but most foods are not appropriate.
From there, be sure to take extra precautions during the holidays. as there is likely to be more enticing food available.
Be mindful when young children are around as they also like to put down and leave uneaten food around your home.
Some guests may even leave their mugs and cups of coffee in inappropriate places; not knowing how problematic this can be.
What Would Happen If A Cat Drank Coffee?
Thankfully, if your cat accidentally took one or two very small sips of coffee, it’s unlikely that this would do any serious, long-term, or considerable harm.
This is good news for anyone who has seen their cat dip their head into a mug/cup of tea or coffee uninvited. It does happen and sometimes there is little we can do to stop them!
However, with the ingestion of any coffee, you will need to monitor your cat closely. Keep an eye on their behavior, preferences, and activities following consumption.
If it’s a small amount ingested, it will pass through their system naturally in time, and should not cause any adverse reactions.
You may notice during this time that they are more lively, fidgety, or even active mind you!
If however, they have ingested coffee in large quantities, you have a problem on your hands. Caffeine in higher doses can be lethal to a cat.
It’s also worth noting here that drinks labeled as caffeine-free are often not wholly caffeine-free; they just contain a lower amount of caffeine than other fully caffeinated beverages.
This is true of decaf coffee, and many decaf teas. So again, these should not be offered or allowed to be consumed by your cat.
Let us now take a look at the most commonly observed symptoms that cats experience when larger amounts of coffee/caffeine are ingested:
- Rapid breathing
- Heart palpitations
If your cat experiences any of the above signs, you should contact and take them to a vet immediately. Time is of the essence here and you should not delay.
The longer you wait, the more the caffeine can build up in the system and the less likely your vet will be able to actively help eliminate it from their system.
It, therefore, means a lower chance of survival if they have ingested a lethal dose.
Treatment often includes IV fluids, but liquid charcoal is also commonly used to rid the body of caffeine more quickly.
One thing to mention here is that caffeine can be a hidden ingredient in many foods.
Chocolate, sodas, and even over-the-counter painkillers can include it so you need to be careful!
How Much Coffee Is Toxic To Cats?
Any amount of coffee is technically toxic to a cat, it’s just how much they have ingested that impacts if they can overcome it and naturally remove it from their system.
For this reason, cats should never have coffee, no amount is suitable for them. As mentioned above, one or two sips might not cause serious problems, but it has no benefit either.
Understanding how devastating coffee is to cats should be an incentive to proactively make your home as cat-proof as possible.
Can Coffee Kill A Cat?
Coffee can undoubtedly kill a cat if consumed in significant enough quantities (and you’ll be surprised at how little this would actually be).
When humans overdo it with caffeine, the effects are quickly apparent – it can make us restless, it increases our heart rate, it makes us talk faster, and so on.
Cats are significantly smaller creatures, with smaller organs that need to process and manage more foreign substances. As such, the effects of caffeine will hit them much harder, and likely much faster, than in people.
Felines that ingest caffeine will experience an increased heart rate, they will become hyperactive, get jittery, restless, and agitated.
However, if they drink enough coffee, they will experience a drastic rise in blood pressure that can cause cardiac arrhythmia, which is highly dangerous.
Beyond this, caffeine affects the GI tract, which often causes diarrhea and vomiting.
In some ways, this can be a good thing as it does help to remove much of the toxin from the cat’s body.
However, both of these conditions can be dangerous as a cat will quickly become dehydrated and malnourished.
In more extreme cases, coffee ingestion could cause a fever, a collapse, or falling into a coma and causing death.
Caffeine toxicity is a severe matter with felines and should not be taken lightly.
What Can Cats Drink?
There is only one drink you should ever offer a cat – water. Cats need water to stay hydrated, for optimal bodily functions, to prevent kidney disease, and to be generally healthy.
It’s essential to dispel the popular myth that cats can drink milk; they cannot as most cats are lactose intolerant.
When cats are kittens, they do drink their mother’s milk.
In fact, if kittens are abandoned or their mother dies, kitten formula milk is often used and works as an ideal substitute.
But they only will need to drink this up until the age of around 8 to 9 weeks old, when they can be fully weaned.
This is because as cats age they stop naturally producing the enzyme that helps to digest milk sugars (lactose).
This is because theoretically, they no longer have access to, nor require milk. At least from an evolutionary perspective.
For an adult cat, the lactose in any milk or other dairy products is likely to cause digestive upset.
Unfortunately, cats like the taste of cow’s milk and even cream because it’s high in fat, so they will drink it even if it upsets their stomach.
What most owners do not know, is that a cat that is fed correctly and enjoys a nutrient-dense and balanced diet, shouldn’t crave extra fat.
Again, if your cat accidentally drinks some milk, you should look out for signs of vomiting or diarrhea – getting in touch with your vet as soon as possible is also recommended.
Instead, fresh, clean water should always be available to your cats, even if they are not fond of drinking water.
If this is your cat, try experimenting with different water bowls rather than reaching for the milk or other drinks. The right bowl will make all the difference.
Some owners swear by drinking fountains, and some cats prefer these to water bowls.
Nevertheless, hydration is essential for cats, as they are prone to chronic kidney disease which water helps prevent.
One other consideration is that cats are not actually natural water drinkers; feral cats for instance will derive water from their food (and most commonly through meat sources).
Your cat therefore might need encouragement to drink water, and this should be the preferred method of hydration.
If your cat outright refuses to drink water, no matter what bowl you give them, try boiling some white fish or a chicken breast in water.
You can then look to offer the cooking water (once cooled) and the smell of the broth should tempt them to drink it.
If you do try this approach, make sure that you don’t add any seasonings or salt to the water.
Failing that, you can speak to your vet about oral rehydration liquid. These fluids are popular as they taste better than plain water.
Specially formulated ‘cat milk’ is often available in most pet shops if you did want to treat your cat. I swear by Cat Sip which I get for a great price over at Amazon.
- 99 Percent Lactosefree.
- Lactase Enzyme Breaks Down Lactose.
- Contains Taurine, An Essential Nutrient For Cat Eye And Heart Health.
- Helps Keep Cats Hydrated.
- A Wholesome Snack Cats And Kittens Will Enjoy Every Day.
Coffee should never be offered to your cat. Nor, should it ever be accessible to them. Whether this is from the counter, or around the house.
Along with this tea, chocolate and milk should be added to the list of foods and drinks that they should never be able to consume.
These are not advantageous nor healthy for them; and instead, come with a range of risks and potentially fatal health outcomes.
If your cat does accidentally consume any of those foodstuffs, try not to be too hard on yourself or panic too soon.
Mistakes do happen and small amounts are unlikely to prove fatal.
However, close monitoring of your pet and getting your cat immediate veterinary attention are strongly advised. The quicker you act, the better for all involved.
Remain vigilant and be sure never to unintentionally neglect the needs of your cat.
As you would child-proof your home to make it a safe environment for a small child; the same must be done for a cat.
Children can be trained to keep away from things that would harm them, but you can’t train cats to stay away from anything, particularly food – they do what they want and are naturally curious – even if it can harm them!
Make sure you keep things like coffee and caffeinated products well out of their reach.
It is your responsibility to ensure that they consume the right food and drink; cats generally do not need anything else besides water.
Cats should not drink decaffeinated coffee. This is because coffee, even without caffeine, naturally contains hundreds of chemicals and compounds that are toxic and/or hard on a cat’s digestive system. Theobromine is one such example. Equally, coffee in all forms is very acidic and does not provide any real benefit for them. The only liquid a cat should be offered and drink should be fresh clean water.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.