I was drinking my coffee the other day and I accidentally spilled some on the floor (a couple of drops).

My cat licked them. I don't really think this is a big deal because it was only two drops, but can anything happen to cats if they drink a (relatively) large amount of coffee?

  • Is you cat allergic to cow milk? – 0xcaff Apr 10 '14 at 1:15

According to petpoisonhelpline.com, caffeine poisoning is "[g]enerally moderate to severe/life-threatening", but while "[...] cats appear to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people", "1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets [...]".

So you should be safe with the current situation, but please do be careful!

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    By the way, this is my first answer on pets - is that considered a reliable source around here? – BoBTFish Apr 9 '14 at 9:23
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    Yes, posting the source of your reference, allows others to make their own judgement on the reliability of the source. While I am not familiar with this source, it appears at first glance to be reliable. – James Jenkins Apr 9 '14 at 11:46

Caffeine is very bad for cats and dogs. Don't let your cats have any coffee, soda, tea, etc.

One tiny dose won't kill them, but you could be racking up organ damage each time. The HCCUA health website states that cats will get heart and nervous system damage from caffeine. I imagine it would also hurt the liver, kidneys, and GI tract as well.

Plants make caffeine to kill off any creatures eating the plants. Alkaloids (caffeine is an alkaloid) are intended to kill off anything that eats them, not just insects. Humans and other plant-eating animals have developed defenses to common alkaloids, which is why people aren't really affected by caffeine. Cats and dogs have no such defenses.

  • Also, from what I have read, caffeine is meant to kill off insects, rather than large animals. That is why humans aren't really affected by it, but with the right dose, caffeine can kill a human: youtube.com/watch?v=OTVE5iPMKLg – IQAndreas Apr 10 '14 at 10:40

Websearch says that LD50 (the overdose that will kill half the animals in the study) for caffeine is around 70 mg per 1 lb body weight (150 mg / kg body weight). As an example, instant coffee contains over 60 mg caffeine per teaspoon. So, the lethal dose of caffeine for a 15 lb (6.8 kg) dog would be 17 teaspoons of instant coffee. Stronger coffees such as Turkish coffee, percolated coffees, and energy drinks would take much less to become toxic for a dog. LD50 in a cat is 200 mg/kg ... So cats are less sensitive per body weight, but do typically weigh less.

The theobromine LD50 is about 1000 mg/kg in humans. But for cats it’s 200 mg/kg and for dogs it’s 300 mg/kg. So cats are more sensitive to tea and chocolate than dogs.

However, cats are much less likely to scarf down significant quantities of either than dogs are. They don't react to sweetness, among other reasons.

So you don't want to actively feed your cat these chemicals. But a few drops, or a few chocolate flakes, are unlikely to do any harm.

  • thanks for using LD50 numbers, I wish more people were familiar with those to get an understanding beyond "is X good or bad for Y" – Jean-Sébastien Tremblay Aug 12 '20 at 23:09

The oldest cat ever recorded was in part, fed coffee with heavy cream. So it seems like caffeine may not be completely bad for cats. I wonder how much coffee they gave the cat... Creme Puff (the cat) lived for 38 years according to Wikipedia and other sources.


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    That which does not kill us... Does m not kill us. There is no evidence the stuff was good for the cat, just that the dosage was never enough to be bad for it. – keshlam Mar 29 '16 at 18:27
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    Yeah, some of the oldest people in the world smoke cigarettes, but that doesn't mean that cigarettes aren't bad for people, it just means they aren't one of the people killed by their smoking habit. Anecdotes are not reliable for making generalized claims – Kevin Wells Nov 20 '17 at 23:04
  • To add to what Amanda wrote about Creme Puff The owner of Creme Puff has had several cats, and the cat before Creme Puff lived to be 34. Several of his cats have gotten over the age of 30, and plenty over age of 20. So something he must be doing right. atlasobscura.com/articles/how-to-raise-a-165-year-old-cat – Dennis Feb 26 '18 at 13:29

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