Curious about vinegar in relation to your furry feline? Wondering whether it’s completely safe for a cat to be around different types of vinegar, or whether vinegar could possibly be harmful or even toxic to your cat in any way, shape, or form? You’re in the right place!
From my understanding, there are really only two ways you might think to use vinegar in a way that would directly or indirectly impact your pet cat:
- As a household cleaner, or
- As a remedy/health supplement of sorts, meaning it’d usually be directly ingested by your cat.
Let me know if there’s another way you thought to use vinegar that I’ve left out/forgotten!
If you’re here to learn about one type of use for vinegar, I’d strongly recommend you stick around and read about the other as well.
Surprisingly, I came to polar opposite conclusions about their potential safety/harm of vinegar for each use – though you may disagree with my conclusions, and if you do, please let me know why below in the comments! Now, let’s jump into it.
Part I: Is Vinegar Safe for Cats as a Household Cleaner?
Looking for good news? Happy to provide it!
If you have pets, vinegar is the perfect cleaning product; it’s completely safe and non-toxic to cats – as well as most other pets.
Vinegar is cheap, ubiquitous, and probably one of the most ideal cleaning products to use in around your home from a toxicity perspective; both for humans and for animals.
It also never expires. It’s just one of those things that lasts indefinitely – like honey.
I could stop here, but there’s even more good news, as vinegar is actually ridiculously good at getting urine smells out of hard surfaces and fabrics, and you know if it can do something as difficult as that it should really help keep pet smells in general at bay.
Carol McCarthy points out: “Vinegar is an acid that neutralizes the alkaline salts that form in dried urine stains.
Mix a solution of one part water and one part vinegar and apply it to walls and hard floors.” Your house will smell like vinegar afterward, but once that vinegary smell disappears, you should be left with no smell at all.
As baking soda is also ridiculously safe for cats to be around – to the point where many pet parents will throw some into their cat’s litter box to help reduce bad smells, you can confidently use your favourite vinegar and baking soda cleaning solutions around the house without fearing any health repercussions for your pet.
Vinegar isn’t ideal to use on every surface, as it can damage things like granite, marble, and soapstone counter tops, as well as certain wood finishes and potentially some fabrics as well, so be on the safe side and look up whether you should be using vinegar for cleaning whatever surface, finish, or fabric you’ve got at home.
That being said, it still stands that whatever harm could come of using vinegar for cleaning – it may be to your possessions but it will never be to your pet.
Downside to using vinegar as a cleaning product, not just in the kitchen but all over the house? For pet owners, I honestly can’t even think of one. So grab some diluted white vinegar and a spray bottle, and get cleaning!
Part II: Is Vinegar Safe for Cats as a Health Supplement?
Now this is where things get a little controversial. The answer here is yes, but only technically.
It is safe for cats to ingest vinegar, but only in small amounts.
About a teaspoon of diluted apple cider vinegar is the equivalent of the maximum a cat can handle ingesting without trouble beginning to brew.
Any more vinegar than that and you could really mess with a cat’s stomach acidity, leading to health issues quite quickly.
If a cat is sick, and especially if he or she is on prescription medication, you could do a lot of damage by feeding your cat just-a-bit-too-much vinegar, so in my opinion, you shouldn’t even consider it when your cat is sick (or ever, but I’ll get into that).
Because of vinegar’s acidity, it can alter your cat’s stomach acidity and potentially render prescription food or medication useless, or worse, doing damage of its own.
If your cat has kidney disease: giving apple cider vinegar could be fatal, as a cat with kidney disease is unable to process acid well, and acidic is exactly what vinegar is.
If it’s dangerous to give a cat vinegar in too high a dose, why give vinegar at all?
Articles are often passed around the net claiming that apple cider vinegar provides healthy nutrients that are beneficial for a cat’s overall health and well being. Unfortunately, these claims aren’t backed up by evidence.
Dr. Cailin Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN stated for PetMD: “I don’t believe there is anything to support it [for improved health in pets]. […] It can often have a laxative effect, or cause stomach upset, so I usually discourage the use of apple cider vinegar.”
Other articles claim that vinegar is an excellent remedy for quite a few feline ailments: ear infections, UTIs, hot spots.
These claims are all true; the issue? You can definitely do more harm than good if you get the concentration wrong, don’t dilute the solution enough, and end up with too much vinegar, even if the solution is just going onto your cat’s skin topically.
And, as stated before, if your cat is on prescription medication or special vet food, you could be rendering that medication useless by altering the pH/acidity of your cat’s stomach.
My advice: absolutely do not try taking matters into your own hands by medicating your cat with vinegar without informing and getting approval from your vet first. You’d be putting your cat’s health at risk.
Why else might you want to give your cat vinegar? There’s the matter of the very true fact that vinegar helps to keep fleas and ticks away from our furry friends. Sound amazing? It’s not as great as it first appears.
Vinegar can only help repel fleas and ticks: it doesn’t keep them away for certain and definitely doesn’t get rid of them if they’re already there.
On top of that, good luck trying to get your cat to ingest vinegar in the first place. Most cats hate it, and will avoid it at all costs. Trying to put it on your cat’s food? He or she may refuse to eat the dinner you’ve provided.
Trying put a drop of it into your cat’s water? It’s hard enough getting cats to drink enough water to stay hydrated and avoid a UTI in the first place; adding a single drop of vinegar to the H2O mix you’ve left out could make your cat so averse to drinking, he or she becomes dehydrated.
Again, it may be a controversial opinion, but to me – there doesn’t seem to be much, if any, upside to giving a cat apple cider vinegar at all. But accidentally giving too much vinegar – either by not diluting the vinegar enough or by giving too much overall – can have serious ramifications to your pet’s health.
So, in my opinion, using vinegar for health reasons on your cat without your vet having advised you to do so is a bad idea, as it could lead to much more harm than good.
But I heard it’s good for “x” & still want to give it a try…
While, personally, I would never really entertain giving it a go, if you’re still unconvinced and want to try giving apple cider vinegar to your pet yourself, please oh please, for the safety of your pet, let your vet know first – in advance of your attempt.
Ask your vet his or her opinion on whether it might be helpful, if issues may crop up, and what those may be.
Also be sure to ask your vet about the right way to go about giving your pet vinegar, especially in terms of diluting the concentration so as not to be left with a solution that’s too acidic.
Your Thoughts on Cats & Vinegar?
Have you ever used vinegar as a household cleaner? Did you know it worked so well, both from a toxicity perspective and in terms of getting pet smells and even urine smells out of whatever you need cleaning?
Have you ever thought about using apple cider vinegar to cure a feline ailment? What was the ailment you were interested in remedying? Did you end up trying it? Would you ever do it again?
Ever talk to your vet about using apple cider vinegar as a remedy? What were his/her thoughts?
Looking forward to hearing about your experiences in the comments down below!
Ruth L says
I have been using vinegar/water solution to keep fleas from biting me. It is working pretty well to this point. Today I tried it on my cat but I don’t know how strong to make the solution.
I am doing everything short of standing on my head (vacuuming, steaming, laundering daily) to get rid of fleas on my cat and in the environment. The vet treated her with Bravecto seven weeks ago, and my cat has FAD. I am allergic to the Knockout spray I bought from the vet (had to ask the vet if they had any they recommend–got no advice on what to do). Bravecto does not kill eggs or larvae, so my cat has to go on for 6-10 more weeks getting bit and getting sores on her skin and losing fur to kill the newly emerging fleas. (The vet said there are no topical or oral treatments to give cats that kill eggs and larvae, but that is blatantly false according to what I have read (from CAPC and Oklahoma State University and other sources). I used the Knockout spray for eggs/larvae sparingly because of my allergic reaction to it. I am hoping vinegar/water will keep both of us sane until the last pupa “hatches.” No chemical will work against the pupae.
Linda Kennedy says
Hi, where I live the water is very hard and my kitty’s water fountain has limescale on it which is hard to get off. I was going to mix white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to cycle through the fountain for a few hours then clean water through for a bit before letting kitty use it again. Do you think it will be safe enough for her to use afterwards? Thanks.
Bob sled says
I believe it would be 100% safe for the cat (since you intend a good rinse cycle); however, I would worry that Acetic acid (the primary acid in vinegar) could do damage to the pump, plumbing, and possibly the fixture (depending on material & finish).
Personally, in that scenario, I would de-scale the unit until satisfied and switch to using filtered/drinking water (not distilled!). Considering how cheap grocers sell house branded gallons of drinking water, especially with how little will be used, it just seems like the *best* solution as it protects your pet, saves you from worry & extra work, and possibly prolongs the funtional life of the fountain.
april morales says
i have 11 cats only 5 of them come in at night the others like to stay outside in different spots sooo now I have a raccoon problem because they are attracted to the cats food I read that not leaving cat food out after dark will help but also putting a cloth soaked in vinegar outside will deter the raccoons from coming around should I worry about the cats messing with the cloth and getting sick?
I have two kitty brothers that I adopted from a foster caregiver . Their mother died after birth and they were hand fed. They were also fixed by foster at 2 months which my vet says is too young and contributed to chronic bladder crystals and problems. THEY GOT THE BEST FOOD FOR UTIS ETC BUT IT DIDN’t HELP. THEN!…. I read a story of a vet who saved a male cat with crystals by an over night drip of vinegar acidic water that dissolved crystals and had since recommended vinegar in water with good results. My cat would yowl and have pink tinged pee until I started giving him a dropper full of water from a mix with 1/4 tsp organic rice vinegar in two tablespoons of purified water, three times a day. I also add a 1 tsp of d-mannose (powder from health food store or Amazon) which was recommended in a natural women’s treatment site for bladder infections. It is a sugar that is not absorbed by the body but goes straight to the bladder where it attaches to bacteria and prevents it from growing on the bladder wall. The bacteria just washes out, it’s a recognized natural cystitis cure. I give my boy kitties one preventative dose of vinegar water with d-mannose once a week and after previous two years of vet visits and pain NOW THEY NEVER HAVE BLOODY PEE OR ANY SYMPTOMS OF URINARY PROBLEMS . They like the rice vinegar better than apple cider. I use a baby medicine squeeze dropper with an inch of mix, squirted a bit to swallow at a time , about three squirts into back corner of lips. They take it fine. One even licks up any spilled rice vinegar! Good luck!
Ramiro Aguilar says
Hi my name is Ramiro Aguilar. I am from Milwaukee WI. Right now I am in a situation where I have bed bugs on my carpet. I am spraying white vinegar. Will it cause any harm to my cat.
Tess P. says
I have an ant issue. I don’t want to spray the entire house with any chemicals but I need the ants to disappear as I saw one in my kittens dry food bowel, one or two on her matt, and a few in the corner carpeted walls. I almost bought a repellent called Mighty Mint Ant killer bit even though it says safe for pets it is actually TOXIC. What can I do?? Please help!!
I caught my cat on the table rubbing her head on a dish of kalmata olives. She loved it! Had to throw the olives away as they were full of fur. Did not seem to be adversely affected by the brining vinegar
My boyfriend and I are about to use vinegar to clean now that we have learned this! Thank you! I still have one question though; can i use diluted apple cider vinegar on my cats skin/fur to help with fleas? I have tried most topical treatments and my poor furbaby is still infested. We do not have the money atm to take her back to the vet for more treatment.
I know i’m late to this but i’ve found an astonishingly effective repellant (spellling?) is to make a runny porridge out of oats and water and to strain off the “milk” as a cat bath to repel fleas. They hate bathing for the most part but it costs a few pennies and can give you a breather between prohibitively expensive flea treatments.
Hi I have a 13 year old cat that has asthma pretty bad. I’m trying to use cleaning products that are safe for him to be around. How do I clean the commodes? I started using a little bit of baking soda and cleaning vinegar is that safe to use around him?
Elise Xavier says
I’m not 100% sure. While I would personally think so, I would definitely ring up the vet to ask if baking soda and cleaning vinegar are safe to use around him. Shouldn’t have to go into the office to get an answer to a question so straightforward. If your vet says they should be fine, and you’re still a bit nervous, try a spot test by using these and watching your kitty closely to see if his asthma acts up in the few days after you used them.
Good luck, & good on you for being so careful!
I’ve also seen where someone used Coke to clean a toilet. So that may even be an option?
Sarah Nevels says
My kitty had a uti vet gave her antibiotics but it came back so I did try the apple cider winger half a teaspoon to cup of water gave it to her with a syringe a few times seem to actually help.
Hi Elise. We have a problem with a neighbour’s cat coming over to our place and terrorising our cats to the point that one of my cats will no longer go out. I read somewhere that a squirt with watered down vinegar would deter the aggressive cat as vinegar is non toxic but they don’t like the smell. Despite this cat being a pain in the arse I do not want to make it seriously sick either. What are your thoughts please.
Elise Xavier says
I personally don’t know if it could make the cat sick – wouldn’t risk it; would squirt with plain water instead. That *should* be enough of a deterrent.
Tough problem to crack, I think, because cats are sneaky so the neighbour’s cat may begin to come round only when you’re not in 🙁
Can i replace apple cider vinegar with regular white vinegar as a health supplements?
Elise Xavier says
Personally, I honestly would not use apple cider vinegar even as a supplement, let alone white vinegar (which is even stronger), as you could really mess with the acidity in your kitty’s gut by accident by doing so, and because there doesn’t seem to be much proof that it’s effective as a supplement. Definitely ask your vet about whether your particular cat should be ingesting vinegar as a supplement before giving it to your kitty since the acidity could lead to sensitive stomach issues and potentially even vomiting if you overdo it by accident or if your cat is on any kind of medication. You don’t want to be doing more harm than good 🙁
I use vinegar and baking soda in a spray bottle as a deterrent from cats scratching furniture and fighting with each other. Is that safe?
Elise Xavier says
In my opinion – if you only spray the furniture with the vinegar and baking soda, yes. But if you want to spray the cats themselves – have a separate spray bottle that’s just water and only spray them with water.
It’s best to make sure they’re not ingesting baking soda and vinegar if they don’t need to be, and since regular water will do the trick for shocking them, why take the risk?
By the way, I have some tips up here in case you’d like to train your cats to stop scratching furniture.
Another way vinegar can be used is topically. When my cat had feline acne under his chin, my vet recommended that I apply diluted apple cider vinegar on it followed by an oral gel from the pharmacy. Applying it consistently eventually did take care of the problem. I probably wouldn’t give him vinegar to ingest though. I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to what I let my cat consume. Can’t risk it!
Elise Xavier says
See, I feel like yours is the perfect attitude to have: careful of the risks, knowledgeable of what the biggest risk is (ingestion), but also awareness of the potential for vinegar to be an amazing remedy.
I think the only real risk to our pets is if we take matters into our own hands and try to use vinegar to treat our pets without first asking our vets about the proper way to go about it, because that’s the only time we can do more harm than good. With their instruction on the proper way to use it (diluting, washing off right away, etc.), vinegar can be a powerful tool, without any of the downsides of potential harm from using it the wrong way.
Eastside Cats says
Yes, we use vinegar and water for various things around the house, and baking soda and water too! I’ve read that baking soda should not be inhaled, so I stopped adding it to the cats litter boxes, But baking soda and water are used to clean up any cat liquid or solid on the hardwood floors!
Elise Xavier says
Hadn’t heard that before about inhaling baking soda! Thanks so much for bring it to my attention!