Is Coffee Bad for Cats? It’s Complicated

Coffee is a well-loved drink worldwide because of its rich flavor and energizing effects. However, it’s important to note that while coffee may be safe for humans, the same cannot be said for our feline companions. As responsible cat owners, we must know what foods and drinks are safe for our pets.

In this article, we’ll delve into the topic of coffee safety specifically for cats by discussing why it’s harmful to them and what happens if they consume it. Additionally, we’ll suggest alternative beverages that are safer options for cats who enjoy sipping alongside their owners’ morning brews.

If you’re a cat parent wondering about whether or not your kitty can have some java with you in the mornings – read on!

Can Cats Drink Coffee?

Cats are curious creatures that often like to explore their surroundings and try new things, including food and drinks. However, when it comes to coffee, the answer is a resounding no. Coffee is not safe for cats to consume, and there are several reasons why.

To start with, caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee that impacts the central nervous system. Although it can enhance energy and attentiveness in humans, cats may suffer from severe complications due to their heightened sensitivity towards caffeine. Even small amounts of this substance can cause restlessness, quick breathing, palpitations of the heart, muscle tremors or seizures among felines.

Cat Drinks Coffee
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In addition, theobromine and theophylline are present in coffee which can be harmful to cats. Their ingestion may lead to severe symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea or even fatality.

Furthermore, felines lack the necessary mechanisms to metabolize coffee as effectively as humans do. Consequently, the caffeine present in coffee can persist in a cat’s body for an extended period compared to that of a human, resulting in prolonged exposure to its detrimental consequences.

Why Coffee Is Harmful To Cats

Coffee contains several components that can be harmful to cats, which is why it is not safe for them to consume. Here are some of the reasons why coffee is harmful to cats:

Coffee Harmful for Cats
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  • Caffeine: Caffeine, a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, is present in coffee. Even small amounts of caffeine can cause adverse effects such as restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors and seizures in cats which are more sensitive to it than humans. In extreme cases of sensitivity to caffeine intake by cats could even result in death[1].
  • Theobromine: Theobromine, a toxic compound to cats found in chocolate, is also present in coffee. Cats can experience vomiting, diarrhea and seizures due to the consumption of theobromine.
  • Theophylline: Cats can be negatively affected by Theophylline, a compound present in coffee. In severe cases, it may lead to muscle tremors, seizures, and even cardiac arrest.
  • Prolonged exposure: Due to their inefficient coffee processing capability, cats may retain caffeine in their system for an extended period of time. As a result, they are exposed to the detrimental consequences of prolonged caffeine exposure.
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What Happens If A Cat Drinks Coffee?

If a cat drinks coffee, it can lead to a range of adverse reactions, including:

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  • Restlessness and hyperactivity: The consumption of coffee by cats results in restlessness, hyperactivity, and behavior changes due to the stimulation of their central nervous system by caffeine. As a consequence of caffeine’s effects, cats may exhibit unusual behaviors such as excessive meowing or pacing.
  • Rapid breathing: The reason behind cats breathing rapidly or panting excessively is that caffeine stimulates their respiratory system, which results in an increased rate of breathing and heart rate.
  • Heart palpitations: Cat’s heart rate can be elevated by caffeine, which may cause heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat. This is especially risky for cats with pre-existing heart conditions.
  • Muscle tremors: Ingesting caffeine can cause cats to have involuntary muscle contractions and tremors, which affects their neuromuscular system and may result in seizures.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea: Due to its diuretic properties, caffeine can cause dehydration which ultimately results in gastrointestinal distress. This can make a cat’s stomach upset and lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Alternatives to Coffee For Cats

If you’re a cat parent looking for a safe and healthy alternative to coffee, there are several options to consider. Here are some alternatives to coffee for cats:

  • Catnip: Catnip is a plant that belongs to the mint family and contains a compound called nepetalactone. This compound produces a mild euphoric effect in cats and can help them relax and de-stress. You can give your cat fresh or dried catnip or use catnip-infused toys to provide them with some entertainment.
Cat Smells Catnip
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  • Herbal teas: Herbal teas like chamomile and valerian root can have a calming effect on cats and help them relax. You can brew a cup of herbal tea and let it cool before offering it to your cat in a small amount.
  • Bone broth: Bone broth is a nutrient-dense liquid that is made by simmering animal bones and connective tissues. It contains collagen, amino acids, and other beneficial nutrients that can support your cat’s health. You can give your cat bone broth as a treat or add it to their regular meals for added nutrition.
Bone Broth for Cat
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  • Water: Water is essential for cats’ health, and providing them with clean and fresh water is crucial. Consider investing in a water fountain to encourage your cat to drink more water, or offer them water-rich foods like canned food.
  • Interactive toys and playtime: Interactive toys and playtime can provide your cat with mental and physical stimulation, helping them stay active and healthy. Consider providing your cat with puzzle feeders or other interactive toys that can keep them engaged.
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Is it safe for cats to consume coffee?

It is not safe for cats to drink coffee as caffeine can be poisonous to them, causing various negative effects such as restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors and vomiting.

How much caffeine is toxic to cats?

Cats are much more sensitive to caffeine than humans and can experience severe adverse reactions even from small amounts. As little as 20-30 mg of caffeine per kilogram of a cat’s body weight can be toxic, while doses of 60-90 mg/kg can be lethal. It’s crucial to keep all caffeine-containing products, including coffee and tea, away from your cat’s reach.

Can I give my cat decaffeinated coffee?

It’s not recommended to give your cat decaffeinated coffee, as it still contains some caffeine, which can be harmful to cats. It’s best to avoid giving your cat any coffee or caffeinated products altogether.

Can cats develop a tolerance to caffeine?

No, cats cannot develop a tolerance to caffeine. Their bodies do not have the ability to metabolize caffeine effectively, which means that even small amounts of caffeine can cause adverse reactions.


In conclusion, coffee is not safe for cats to consume due to its high caffeine content. Even small amounts of caffeine can cause adverse reactions in cats, ranging from restlessness and rapid breathing to muscle tremors and vomiting. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep all caffeine-containing products, including coffee and tea, away from your cat’s reach.

Fortunately, there are several safe and healthy alternatives to coffee for cats, including catnip, herbal teas, bone broth, water, and interactive toys and playtime. These alternatives can provide your cat with the stimulation and enjoyment they crave without the harmful effects of caffeine.

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If you suspect that your cat has consumed coffee or any other toxic substance, seek veterinary attention immediately. Early intervention can help prevent serious long-term health problems and even save your cat’s life. Ultimately, as responsible pet owners, it’s our duty to keep our feline friends safe and healthy by avoiding any potential hazards that may harm them.

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