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Are Lemon Trees Toxic To Cats?

They say one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and this is something that definitely applies to you, your cat, and lemon trees.

You might enjoy the occasional lemon and the tree’s pleasant essential oils, but the same thing can’t be said about your feline friend. If you have a lemon tree nearby, this could spell disaster for cats in the vicinity.

Sure, lemons may seem harmless enough because they contain vitamins and so much nutritional goodness. But what’s best for you might be toxic to your cats.

Maybe you might have already heard a rumor about how certain plants can be harmful to pets like cats and dogs. As a loving pet parent, you should absolutely do your own research to separate fact from fiction.

That way, you know how to keep the cuddly furballs safe, especially when they don’t know any better. After all, the last thing you want is your cat getting sick because you unknowingly exposed it to a lemon fruit or tree.

Fortunately, in this guide, we provide a detailed answer to the question, “Are lemon trees toxic to cats?” (hint: the answer is yes).

Are Lemon Trees Toxic to Cats?

Yes, lemon trees are toxic to cats. That’s because they contain substances that are toxic to your cat. These substances can give your cat gastrointestinal issues even though you can eat lemons without a problem.

Even cats know how lemons affect them, as they can pull away or avoid anything that smells of citrus. But cats can still be exposed if the scent of lemons is masked.

The three main compounds in lemon trees that are harmful to cats are limonene, linalool, and psoralen. Limonene and linalool give lemon trees their citrusy fragrance and are often found in beauty and cleaning products.

Additionally, limonene is used to flavor foodstuffs, which can be a problem if your cat loves to nibble on stuff. The problem with linalool is that it also has insecticidal properties.

In a nutshell, if your cat eats any part of a lemon tree, it may start suffering from symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, photosensitivity (from psoralen), lethargy, weakness, low blood pressure, and other symptoms.

Cats can be treated for lemon poisoning, but the prognosis may not be good without early treatment.

Are Lemon Tree Leaves Toxic to Cats?

Any part of the lemon tree is toxic to cats, including the leaves. While the essential trees of a lemon tree are mostly concentrated in the fruits, the leaves also contain small amounts that are mildly toxic.

If you have an indoor lemon tree, your cat might have easy access to it. Such a tree is grown in a container and usually placed within reach.

There’s always a chance the cat might nibble on the leaves and end up with severe poisoning. But why exactly do cats respond this way to lemons and lemon trees?

Unfortunately, there are not many scientific studies that look into what happens at a cellular level to make lemon essential oils toxic to cats.

The most likely explanation is that lemon essential oils interfere in some way with a cat’s biology. This is why vets treat lemon poisoning by trying to remove as many of the toxins as possible.

Typically vets use activated charcoal to absorb the toxins, and they will also clean the cat’s stomach out. The more quickly this is done, the better chances your cat has of recovering from lemon poisoning.

Can Cats Be Around Lemon Trees Safely?

Lemon trees are sometimes grown indoors and sought-after because of their ability to infuse the air with a pleasant smell.

But, as mentioned, the essential oils produced by the lemon tree are extremely toxic to felines.

Just so you know, dogs are also adversely affected when they consume citrus products.

So, it’s safe to say that canines and felines are more sensitive to citrus oils than humans. Generally, cats can be around lemon trees safely, but only if they don’t consume any part of the lemon tree.

The good news is cases of lemon poisoning are quite rare because cats know to instinctively stay away from lemon trees.

But, still, it’s possible for your cat to lick a lemon that’s left on the counter, for instance. If this happens, you need to keep a close watch on your kitty to see if it’s showing any signs of poisoning.

You should also take your cat to the vet as soon as possible if you feel there’s something wrong. When it comes to your cat and lemon poisoning, it’s best to never say never.

How Do I Keep My Cat Away from My Lemon Tree?

After confirming that lemon trees are toxic to cats, you might want to make sure your cat stays away from any lemon trees in your surroundings, just for good measure.

For the most part, you should only be worried if your cat has shown an interest in consuming lemons or other citrus products.

Otherwise, it’s normal for your cat to naturally want to stay away from citrus smells. But if your furry friend is the exception, then you need to foolproof your place against lemon trees.

The best and safest way to keep your cat away from a lemon tree is to either remove the tree or block access to it.

Given these options, it’s probably better to ensure there are no lemon trees near your cat. With a lemon tree nearby, the chances of a mishap increase because you never know what your cat gets up to with your back turned.


So, are lemon trees toxic to cats? From what we have discussed, lemon trees are harmful to cats, but only when eaten. However, it’s not that common for cats to eat lemon trees or any part of the lemon tree, such as the leaves and the fruit. If your cat is experiencing lemon poisoning, common symptoms include photosensitivity, diarrhea, sore stomach, seizures, and even death.