For many people, onions are a must have in the kitchen. They are one of those flavorful ingredients that will sit well in almost any recipe. You can roast them, grill, caramelize, chop or slice thinly and serve raw in your salads. When fixing your sandwich, you can add some onions too or better still use them to garnish your tacos. The list of the uses of onions in our kitchens is endless. It’s no wonder people love them.
However, as much as we like the flavor onions adds to soups and stocks, they can be extremely harmful for cats. Since onions are a common ingredient in many of the foods we eat, your pets can be at risk. Is onion bad for cats? Absolutely. Onions are among the food items that are considered toxic and even poisonous for cats. Cats are extremely sensitive to onions and ingesting even a small amount is enough to make them very ill. Onions are bad for cats and we will get into the nitty gritties and explain why this is so.
Can cats eat onions?
As we have already mentioned, onions are quite harmful for cats. For that reason cats cannot eat onions even in small amounts. If your kitty happens to ingest onions, he or she is likely to suffer from onion toxicity which is a severe health complication. As a matter of fact, you should consider any amount of onion ingestion an emergency that requires an immediate visit to the vet. Before indulging your cat with any kind of food, ensure it doesn’t contain onions. Pets like feeding on table scraps and might accidentally end up eating onions.
Are all onions dangerous to cats?
This is another question that most often comes up in the discussion about cats and onions. All onions are dangerous to cats whether raw, cooked or dried. They will still all have a negative effect on your fur baby resulting in life threatening health problems. Raw onions are the most dangerous followed by the cooked ones but always keep them all away from your kitty.
Generally, cats are not interested in raw onions and would rarely eat them. The most common cases of onion exposure are from the cooked foods we eat in our homes and the processed human foods. In fact, if you pay close attention, you will come to the realization that many of the processed foods tend to have onions as an additive. While it’s not advisable to share human food with your kitty, in case you do make sure it doesn’t have onions. Also keep an eye on the ingredients in the processed foods.
We have already mentioned that onions are harmful to your furball. It’s now time to understand why your adorable kitty should not go anywhere near onions whether cooked, raw or in any other form. You have probably heard of onion toxicity in cats but don’t understand how it occurs. Cats are very sensitive creatures and don’t get along with several food items.
When your kitty ingests lots of onions, there is a likelihood he or she will suffer from onion toxicity. Onions become toxic when your furball ingests a certain amount which is basically 1 gram per 5 pounds of the body weight. Onion toxicity is a grave health complication and requires immediate medical intervention. It actually results in hemolysis which is a breakdown of the red blood cells.
The breakdown of the cells decreases their numbers and this means there is less oxygen circulating in the cat’s body. The red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Basically, the onions contain toxic compounds referred to as disulfides and thiosulphates. These compounds trigger a hypersensitive reaction that causes the red blood cells in the body of your pet to become fragile and burst.
It may take a while before the symptoms show but in most cases diarrhea and vomiting will occur within 24 hours of your cat consuming onions. The symptoms of anemia may occur later after several days or a week. They may include breathlessness, rapid breathing, lethargy, pale or yellow colored gums and elevated heart rate. You should also look out for discolored urine.
What causes onion toxicity?
Onions become toxic to your fur baby when she ingests more than 0.5% of the body weight at one sitting. Disulfide is an oxidant found in the onions. Unfortunately, the red blood cells in cats have a high sensitivity for oxidation. When the oxidant disulfide is ingested and gets into the bloodstream, it attaches to the red blood cells circulating through the body. The body interprets this as an invader and promptly destroys the cells in an attempt to get rid of the toxic substances. This is what causes hemolysis aka breakdown of the red blood cells.
My cat ate onions. What should I do?
Cats are not only curious but also sneaky and there is always that chance of eating onions. For that reason, it’s important to be extremely cautious with the foods in your home that have onions. The truth is onions are among the vital ingredients in our foods and you can’t entirely avoid them. Don’t feed your pet table scraps because they might contain onions and you can’t tell the amount.
That said, even a little bit of onions can make your kitty very sick. If you feel that your cat has ingested onions, don’t attempt to treat him or her at home. Instead, take the cat to a veterinarian who will diagnose the condition and treat it accordingly.
Always have an emergency veterinary clinic number and address for the time when your veterinarian is unavailable. Depending on the severity of the issue, the vet might administer intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the toxins and even a blood transfusion.
Onion toxicity in cats is quite expensive to treat and to avoid all the trouble, the least you can do is be extremely careful with your pets. For instance, don’t feed them table scraps as these might contain onions and accidentally poison your furball. But in the unfortunate event that your gorgeous kitty eats onions, take her to the vet immediately.