Can Cats Drink Coffee?

Here's what it can do to your pet ☕👎

Cat smelling coffee

Thinking about letting your cat take a sip of your morning coffee?

Can it really be thatttt bad? (Turns out, yes!)

To find out exactly why, The Dodo spoke with Dr. Sarah Wooten, a small animal veterinarian in Colorado, who explained just how toxic coffee can be for cats.

Why is coffee bad for cats?

Coffee (unsurprisingly) contains caffeine — which is actually toxic for lots of animals, including cats.

Even small amounts of caffeine can cause dangerous symptoms. And if your cat has too much, those symptoms can be fatal.

In addition to caffeine, coffee also contains theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine.

For humans, you can thank theobromine for jolting you awake in the morning and keeping you focused throughout the day. But with a cat’s small body size, the effects of theobromine can make him very, very sick.

Do cats even like coffee?

Generally speaking, it’s not common for a cat to seek out a cup of coffee for a taste. “It is likely that your cat won’t like the taste of coffee, and you don’t really need to worry about your cat sniping your cup of coffee,” Dr. Wooten said.

But that doesn’t mean you should totally let your guard down.

“Every cat is different, so I suggest monitoring your cat’s behavior around a cup of coffee,” Dr. Wooten said.

“If a cat likes to eat plastic (which many do), then it stands to reason that a cat may like coffee. Use your best judgement,” she added.

If you want to give your cat a special treat off your plate, skip the coffee and check out this list of human foods that are safe for cats.

What are the signs of caffeine toxicity in cats?

But if your cat does sneak a sip of your coffee — or you’re worried she did — what happens next?

Dr. Wooten said to look out for the following signs of coffee toxicity in cats:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Agitated behavior
  • Panting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Vomiting

In severe cases, this will escalate to tremors and heart palpitations, Dr. Wooten said.

“Symptoms can start within 30 minutes of ingestion and can go on for six to 12 hours, depending on the size and health of the cat and how much caffeine is ingested,” she added.

How much coffee can make a cat sick?

A rule of thumb is that 10 milligrams of caffeine per pound of body weight will make your cat sick, Dr. Wooten said.

That means an average-sized cat (about 8 pounds) would need to drink about 80 milligrams of caffeine to develop toxicity.

“Since the average cup of coffee contains about 150 milligrams, a half-cup would cause a cat to show signs,” Dr. Wooten said.

This doesn’t mean you should give your cat a sip to see what happens. Every cat is different, so some cats may show symptoms after just a taste.

And be sure to keep any other products that contain caffeine away from your cat — especially concentrated forms like energy drinks or caffeine tablets, which can contain more than 200 milligrams of caffeine, and would be highly toxic.

How is caffeine toxicity in cats treated?

How a veterinarian would go about treating a cat’s caffeine toxicity depends on how recently he had the coffee.

“If caught early enough, a vet can induce vomiting to remove the caffeine from the cat’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract,” Dr. Wooten said.

Though tempting, you should never try to induce vomiting in your cat yourself, unless your veterinarian or a pet poison professional is instructing you to do so. You can hurt your cat if you do it incorrectly, so it’s best left to the experts.

“If symptoms have already developed, then it is likely that your cat will be treated with intravenous (IV) fluid therapy to flush the caffeine out of your cat’s system,” Dr. Wooten added.

If you think your cat had some coffee, contact your veterinarian ASAP or call the Pet Poison Hotline at (855) 764-7661.