Cats and Coffee Grounds

Cats and Coffee Grounds

Cats do not like the smell of coffee grounds. In fact, cats find the smell so repulsive that some people use it as a cat deterrent for their gardens to discourage neighborhood cats from stepping on flower beds or using them as toilets.

If you want to know more about the effect of coffee grounds on cats, keep on reading.

Is coffee safe for my cat?

Cats should not ingest coffee or any caffeine. If they do ingest caffeine, it can take 30 minutes to an hour to reach peak concentrations in their bloodstream and cause signs of clinical toxicity.

Symptoms will depend on the size and weight of the pet. A small cat will tolerate a lot less caffeine than a German Shepherd. A moderate amount of coffee can easily cause death to small cats.

If you suspect your cat has ingested caffeine, take it to the vet immediately so the vet can treat him accordingly. Be sure to have an estimate of the amount of caffeine your cat ingested.

Be careful where you store your coffee as well as your discarded grounds, and make sure your cat cannot access the inside of your trash can. The same goes for other caffeinated substances like chocolate, tea bags, soda, energy drinks, and diet pills.

Chances are your pet will not like the scent of coffee ground, beans, or instant coffee powder. But if your cat likes milk and knows what milk looks like, it might get tempted to try your milky coffee out when you are not looking. Either way, you should seek medical help as soon as you can.

Side effects and symptoms of caffeine toxicity in cats

Cats are far more susceptible to caffeine toxicity than human beings are, so the lethal amount of coffee for your cat is smaller than you might think. Here are the side effects that will occur if your cat ingests coffee:

  • Restlessness and hyperactivity – Cats get jittery and do not want to lie still, or they may pace or vocalize excessively.
  • Panting
  • Vomiting – Caffeine affects the gastrointestinal tract of a cat.
  • Increased heart rate – Caffeine causes cats’ hearts to palpitate.
  • Elevated blood pressure – Caffeine raises the blood pressure which may lead to cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Increased urination – Caffeine is a mild diuretic.
  • Tremors
  • Seizure
  • Death

Because vomiting and restlessness can be attributed to several different causes, many people rule out caffeine toxicity from the beginning of the symptoms. Nevertheless, all the aforementioned side effects can lead to death. Coffee is even more dangerous because ruling it out as a cause happens quickly.

The severity of the side effects and the unlikeliness of diagnosing a cat with caffeine poisoning are reasons why coffee is bad for cats.

A few drops of coffee will not harm your cat but regardless of your cat’s breed and age, exposure to caffeine can eventually cause severe damage to its heart and nervous system. That is why it is important to keep any type of coffee away from your cat at all times.

Treating caffeine toxicity in cats

Depending on how quickly you are able to bring your pet to the veterinarian, they may be able to induce vomiting to prevent further absorption of the caffeine. Experts advise against trying to induce vomiting on your own because it could lead to aspiration pneumonia if done incorrectly. It is much safer to do in a clinical setting.

If the veterinarian cannot induce vomiting in time, he or she may give your pet intravenous fluid to help flush out the caffeine from the body. Your veterinarian may also administer medications to control abnormal heart rhythms, slow a dangerously elevated heart rate, and control tremors and seizures.

It takes about 24 to 48 hours for caffeine to pass through the cat’s system. As long as they get treatment in a timely manner, most cats will survive.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested caffeine in any form, do not skip the vet as a way to save money; even a small amount of caffeine can result in a cat’s death.

How to keep your pets safe from caffeine

One of the reasons cats are so sensitive to caffeine is their indiscriminate eating habits. Cats consume a lot of whatever contains the toxin in a single setting. If your cat consumes medication with caffeine, tell your veterinarian so he can monitor for other side effects of that specific drug.

To keep your cat safe, keep all medications and caffeine-containing products like coffee beans, powder or grounds; tea bags; and chocolate products far out of reach of pets. A lot of people do not realize an espresso bean could be toxic, but a cat is more likely to eat a chocolate-covered espresso bean than a caffeine pill. So make sure anything that could tempt them is not within their reach.


Cats, generally, do not like the smell of coffee grounds. Some people use coffee grounds to keep trespassing cats out of their gardens.

A small amount of caffeine usually is not harmful but if you have a small cat, a moderate amount of coffee can be lethal. A cat that has ingested coffee will show side effects like hyperactivity, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and body temperature, vomiting, tremors, seizure, and even death.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested coffee or any caffeine products, take it to the vet as soon as possible so the vet can induce vomiting.

Keep any and all caffeinated products in your house far from your cat’s reach to keep it from ingesting caffeine. 

Image: / kot63