Do Cats Eyes Burn From Onions? The Surprising Answer

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Yes, onions can burn your cat’s eyes, causing them to become watery and irritated. In extreme cases, this can trigger hostile or aggressive behavior in your feline. If your cat ingests onion – even a tiny amount – it can be detrimental to their physical health and lead to anemia.


Continue reading to discover why onion burns your cat’s eyes and the importance of preventing them from ingesting any of this harmful substance.


How Do Onions Affect Cat’s Eyes?


We all know how onions can cause a burning eye sensation because it affects humans as well as cats. But felines are more sensitive to these vegetables than many other animals on the planet, and ingesting even a tiny amount can lead to life-threatening anemia.


Onions affect your cat’s eyes because they contain the chemical propanediol-S-Oxide, which stimulates their tear glands, causing irritation and tears.


Even a small amount of exposure can trigger this reaction and cause your cat’s eyes to become stingy and irritable. In some cases, this reaction can reflect in your cat’s behavior, and they will display violent or aggressive behaviors. These may be accompanied by crying as your cat tries to communicate their sense of discomfort.


Should I Take My Cat To The Vet If They Are Experiencing Watery Eyes?


There are several reasons why your cat could have watery eyes. If it’s because they’ve inhaled onion fumes, the wateriness should pass, and your cat will return to its usual self in very little time.


If, however, the wateriness persists, you may need to consult a vet, particularly if the eyes are inflamed or red. If you notice your cat pawing at their eyes, squinting, or excreting any unusual discharge, you will definitely need to take them to your local vet.


Why Won’t My Cats Eyes Stop Watering?


If your cat’s eyes continuously water, even when no onion fumes are present, it’s likely pointing to a deeper health problem.


If you notice inflammation or redness around your cat’s eyes, you could be dealing with a case of conjunctivitis. This is the most common eye problem for cats, which most felines will experience at least once in their life, mainly when they are young.


It will often clear up without any treatment, but if your cat seems to be in any pain or discrete discharge, it’s best to take them to the vet for professional advice.


If the discharge from your cat’s eyes is a clear mucus texture, it’s most likely that they have some virus. Whereas if the discharge is a yellow-green color, it’s more likely to be a bacterial infection, and you’ll need the vet to provide antibiotics to help it clear up.


Your cat could also have watery eyes from a number of allergies, including pollen, dust, perfumes, cleaning products, mold, etc. 


Either way, if you notice watery, red, or discharging eyes, consult with your vet to get the best treatment and advice.


Are Onion Fumes Dangerous To Cats?


Like in humans, the propanediol-S-Oxide in onion fumes causes irritated and watery eyes in cats. This is uncomfortable and can lead to uncharacteristic behaviors, but it cannot do any serious harm to your cat.


Onion fumes are not fatal to cats.


Is The Scent Of Onions Bad For Cats?


Smelling an onion will garner pretty much the same reaction as inhaling the fumes. It can lead to discomfort, pain, and aggressive behavior, but it should not do any lethal damage to your cat’s physical health.


Why Is Onion Harmful To Cats?


Cats should avoid ingesting onions at all costs. The oxidant-containing properties of this vegetable break down your feline’s red blood cells, leading to severe anemia and even death.


Is It Okay If I Cook Onions Around My Cat?


If you cook onions around your cat, the fumes are likely to trigger watery eyes and moderate irritation; this is not life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable or even painful for your feline.


Where possible, try to minimize your cat’s exposure to onion fumes and ventilate your cooking area as well as you can. Under no circumstances should you ever allow your cat to ingest onion, as this can cause severe health complications.


How Dangerous Are Onions For Cats?


If your cat ingests onion – particularly in large amounts – it can be hugely detrimental to their physical health.


As little as 1g per 5lbs of body weight can trigger the breakdown of your cat’s blood cells, leading to anemia and death in severe cases. The main reason why onions are so dangerous to cats is that they contain oxidants which lead to the breakdown of blood cells.


Cat’s blood cells are susceptible to oxidation, hence why these vegetables are far more lethal to cats than many other animals.


What Is Onion Toxicity?


Onion toxicity is the term used to describe a feline’s reaction to ingesting onion. In cats, this presents as a hypersensitive reaction to the chemicals present in onion, plus the oxidation of the cat’s red blood cells.


It doesn’t matter if the onion is raw, cooked, or in powder form; any ingestion of onion can be severely detrimental to cats. 


Symptoms Of Onion Toxicity In Cats.


If a feline ingests onions, it’ll likely display some of the following symptoms:


  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weakness, lethargy, or collapse
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Blood in their urine
  • Collapse


If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with your vet immediately.


Final Thoughts


Onion fumes will aggravate your cat’s eyes, causing them to become teary, irritated, and red. In addition to this, you could see a change in their behavior as they get angry at the sensation.


However, onion fumes are not life-threatening to cats; the risk of ingestion is far more dangerous than inhaling their scent. To keep your cat healthy and happy, try your best to keep onions away from them altogether.


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