Can Cats Eat Hot Cross Buns?

Can cats eat hot cross buns?

Cats cannot eat hot cross buns as they contain raisins, sultanas and currants which are toxic to cats. The toxic principle is unknown but causes gastrointestinal disturbances and acute kidney injury in both dogs and cats.

Clinical signs

Gastrointestinal disturbances

  • Inappetance
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

Acute kidney injury

  • Vomiting (which may contain blood)
  • Increased thirst and urination (early stage)
  • Decreased or absent urination (late stage)
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetance
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Vomiting (which may contain blood)
  • Seizures

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is typically made based on a history of hot cross bun exposure. The veterinarian will need to run a series of tests to evaluate the kidneys and assess the extent of kidney damage.

Baseline tests: Complete blood count and biochemical profile to evaluate kidney function. Elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine, metabolic acidosis, hyperkalemia (elevated potassium), hyperphosphatemia (elevated phosphate), hypercalcemia (elevated calcium) will occur in cats with kidney injury.

Blood pressure: Cats in kidney failure are predisposed to high blood pressure, the veterinarian will use a cuff and Doppler to measure blood pressure.

Urine protein creatinine ratio: A test to evaluate how much protein is being lost via the kidneys by measuring protein and creatinine in a urine sample. Creatinine, a by-product of muscle metabolism, is normally excreted into the urine at a constant rate. Low levels of protein in the urine are normal, but high levels of protein are a sign of kidney injury/disease. The UPCR expresses the difference between the two values (protein, creatinine) as a ratio.

SDMA test: This new rapid blood test can evaluate for early kidney damage, for biochemistry tests to pick up kidney failure, 70% of kidney function must be lost, by which time irreversible kidney damage has occurred. The SDMA test can detect as little as a 25% decline in kidney function.

Kidney ultrasound: A non-invasive test that uses high-frequency sound waves to capture live images from inside the body which enables the veterinarian to evaluate the size of the kidneys and evaluate for concurrent problems such as kidney stones, infection (pyelonephritis), tumours and blood clots which may complicate recovery.

Fine needle aspiration: A fine-gauge needle is inserted into the kidney and the plunger is pulled back to suction to remove a sample to evaluate the cells.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to correct acid-base and electrolyte abnormalities and reverse hydration deficits.

  • Induce vomiting: If ingestion was recent, the veterinarian can administer medication to induce vomiting to remove any remaining contents from the stomach.
  • Fluid therapy and electrolyte correction: To maintain hydration, correct electrolyte imbalances and increase kidney flow and urinary excretion of waste products. Great care must be taken when administering fluids, if the kidneys are not excreting fluids efficiently, they can potentially build up in the body which can lead to pulmonary edema.
  • Hemodialysis: A dialysis machine and a special filter (artificial kidney) is used to remove wastes from the blood which would ordinarily be performed by the kidneys.
  • Peritoneal dialysis: If a dialysis machine is not available,  the veterinarian may recommend peritoneal dialysis which is carried out by placing a tube (catheter) into the peritoneal cavity and using the peritoneal membrane as a filter. Dialysis solution enters the peritoneal cavity via the catheter, excess fluids and waste products from the blood pass through the peritoneal membrane and into the dialysis solution. After some time, the solution is drained out of the peritoneal cavity.
  • Diuretics: Once the cat is rehydrated, diuretics such as furosemide will be administered to increase urinary excretion.

Prevention

Do not share hot cross buns with cats, or leave food on tables or kitchen benches cats may have access to.

Other Easter dangers

Easter lily
Photo by Ray49, Shutterstock

Hot cross buns aren’t the only food off the menu to cats and dogs. Veterinarians report an increase in chocolate toxicity over the Easter period. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are central nervous stimulants. The darker the chocolate, the greater the toxicity. Dogs are at increased risk, but some cats are prone to eating anything.

Lilies (Lilium spp.) are a beautiful flower popular around Easter and are deadly to cats. The toxic compound is unknown but causes acute kidney injury. All parts of the plant are toxic to cats, including vase water. Cat-World recommends lilies not be kept in homes with cats due to the high risk of toxicity.

Author

  • Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio