Is Vinegar Safe for Cats?

Vinegar Toxic for Cats

When it comes time to adopt a new pet, one of the many things you will have to pay attention to is making sure that your home is a completely safe environment for your pet. 

Cats cannot tolerate certain substances in the same way that people and other animals can, meaning that you may need to start putting certain items in cabinets or harder to reach places. 

When you are making sure that all of the pet-toxic items are out of your new cat’s reach, you may find yourself wondering what you should do with vinegar. 

Vinegar might seem like one of those items that is dangerous for your cat, but the truth is that most vinegar is actually completely safe for cats. You can even use vinegar for certain purposes with your cat, including flea removal. 

Not only is vinegar safe for your cats to be around, vinegar is often touted as one of the best pet-safe cleaners that you can purchase without having to invest in expensive specialty brands. 

Vinegar is also used in a number of holistic pet products, ranging from flea repellants to an anti-chew (or for cats, an anti-scratch) spray. 

Cats generally do not like vinegar because of its strong smell, but aside from that, it is safe for them. 

Cats can even ingest vinegar and it can be administered as an aid to them in certain circumstances. Keep in mind that cats should only have very, very small amounts of vinegar at a time, as the acidity of vinegar can mess up a cat’s stomach pretty easily. 

Feeding a cat vinegar is a controversial way to treat certain conditions, but you should only ever do it under explicit direction from a qualified vet who knows your cat. It is often safer for your cat for you not to bother at all and to search for other methods of treatment.

Can Cats Eat Vinegar? 

cat drinking vinegar
Photo by Carolien van Oijen on Unsplash

The idea of actually feeding your cats vinegar is a controversial one. Just as people recommend drinking apple cider vinegar because it can be a health supplement, some people will try to equate this to what goes on in the cat’s body as well. The problem with this is that cats are vastly different than people. 

People have stomach acid that tends to be more acidic than vinegar is, meaning that even if it’s uncomfortable, people can stomach the acid far better and with far fewer problems than a cat can.

A cat can eat approximately one teaspoon of diluted apple cider vinegar before problems occur. This is just a minimal amount of diluted vinegar that you would have to force a reluctant cat to eat. There are supplements in the form of treats that you would likely have better luck with. 

Risks of Cats Ingesting Vinegar

Vinegar actually poses a fair few risks for cats as well. Vinegar does not mix well with most cat medication, and you should never ever feed a sick cat vinegar for any reason. The vinegar’s acidity will interact with prescription food or medicine, rendering it useless and potentially causing more damage. 

Cats with kidney diseases can die from eating just a little bit of vinegar, as the kidneys are what process acid in cats, and feeding a cat almost pure acid when it cannot process it is simply cruel. 

When all is said and done, you should never directly feed your cat vinegar. Cats don’t like vinegar and are not going to be inclined to try vinegar past a simple sniff or a lick. 

Cats can safely work with vinegar that has been used for cleaning or as a topical flea treatment, as vinegar in these amounts is not enough to damage a cat’s stomach or digestive system, especially if the vinegar has had time to absorb into whatever surface you were cleaning. 

Using Vinegar Around the House

Using vinegar is often one of the best things that you can do when you are being mindful of what cats can and cannot interact with. 

Vinegar is a fairly good cleaning agent, and it is safe enough that many places recommend that you use vinegar to clean areas of your house if you have pets, as it is generally considered non-toxic (in the amount your cat would lick if it was trying to figure out what you sprayed on the countertop). 

Cats tend to be quite bothered by the stench of vinegar, so they rarely go out of their way to try it themselves, but if they are curious enough to take a lick of a surface you just cleaned, the amount of vinegar they would ingest would do no harm to them aside from the mild discomfort of drinking vinegar. 

Apple Cider Vinegar is Safer for Cats

If you are using vinegar around your house, apple cider vinegar is going to be your best bet, especially if you are using the vinegar as a topical treatment for your cat. Apple cider vinegar has a bit of a sweeter smell than your standard white vinegar, making it easier on your cat’s sensitive nose compared to white vinegar. 

White vinegar is also perfectly safe for cats, but if you are fully cleaning a room with white vinegar, your cats are likely not going to want to enter that room for a bit of time because of the smell. 

If you are planning on purchasing vinegar to use around the house, and you know your cat is the type of cat to take an interest in it (albeit a short interest), you should spend the extra money to purchase the highest quality vinegar that you can make use of. 

The lower quality vinegars might cause more problems for your cat, especially if they try to ingest it, and it is never worth taking that risk with your pets. 

Dilute Vinegar Before Cleaning

Primarily, people use vinegar as a way to clean the house without using pet-toxic chemicals. Some people choose to dilute the vinegar a bit before using it around the house, simply because vinegar can be incredibly strong-smelling. Your cat will likely appreciate you doing this. 

Other uses for vinegar include creating an anti-scratch spray for your cats and a topical flea treatment.

Can You Use Vinegar to Stop a Cat From Scratching Something?

Using vinegar as an anti-scratch spray is incredibly simple and straightforward. Cats hate the smell of vinegar, so when you spray some vinegar at something they would normally scratch at, they would have no interest in trying to scratch it. 

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Most cats also don’t appreciate the taste of vinegar, so if your cat has a problem of biting everything, you can use vinegar as an anti-chew spray as well. 

Using Vinegar to Get Rid of Fleas

The same idea is actually used if you want to get rid of fleas, but you aren’t fond of the harsh chemicals that many flea-removal products use. 

Fleas also do not appreciate the smell of vinegar, meaning that they will be less inclined to jump onto your cat and use it as a host. Vinegar does not and will not kill fleas that are already on your cat, but it can lessen the problem if they are already there. 

If the fleas are already there, you may need to consider another option to kill the ones that have made your cat into their home. 

When using the vinegar as a topical solution, your cat will likely try to groom it out, and as long as you don’t use too much vinegar, this is typically fine. It actually helps to spread the vinegar into their fur and skin a little bit more. 

What’s even better for your cat is that because the vinegar will get onto its skin, it will be less inclined to bite and scratch at the fleas, since it will only come back tasting the vinegar. This can make vinegar a decent flea-deterrent as well as helping your cat not hurt itself from scratching at the fleas. 

Simply put, you will have to be conscious and careful about how much vinegar you use around your cat, but it is perfectly fine if they ingest a little. It’s better than leaving ice cream around for them to eat!

Lara Kitt

When we aren't scooping up droppings to ensure a luxurious litter box experience for our fur babies, we are writing all sorts of stuff about cats for your enjoyment and knowledge.

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