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Animals and Coffee

Anyone who truly loves coffee knows the story of the dancing goats. But what do we know about the effects of coffee and caffeine on other animals?

dogs with coffee mugs

Pets

When we bring pets into our homes, we assume the responsibility of keeping them healthy and safe. So, how does coffee and its caffeine content affect our tiny family members?

Dogs

Like many foods, coffee is not a great fit for our woofers. It appears coffee grounds are more toxic than brewed coffee is, but neither is something we want to make a habit of leaving around for man's best friend to ingest. Depending on the size of your dog, the amount of coffee grounds or brewed coffee that is toxic and life-threatening varies. A small dog, under 10 pounds, can be seriously affected by 1/10th of an ounce of coffee beans or grounds, while 3 ounces of brewed coffee can be dangerous.

When making your coffee, if you spill your beans or grounds where your dog can get to them, be sure to clean them up right away. If you slosh your brewed coffee, a quick lap won't do irreparable harm to your dog but may cause Fido to become ill. And, if you're a tea drinker, be sure to keep those tea bags out of reach as well. If you're concerned your dog has had too much coffee, these are the symptoms of caffeine toxicity you should be watching for:

  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Collapse

Cats

Your cat probably doesn't have much interest in your coffee or tea in general, but, on occasion, cats have shown interest in taking a drink from a mug. In other words, keep an eye on your feline friend around your cup. Be aware of any dropped coffee beans and grounds as well. Your cat might find playing with a bean fun, and during playtime, ingest it either accidentally or on purpose.

The additional substances in your personal coffee may make it more appealing to your cat. Not so much sugar or substitute sweeteners, but milk and cream might make that coffee more attractive to your kitty. Just like dogs, cats can have an adverse reaction to drinking or eating coffee. In high enough concentrations, it can even kill them.

If you're concerned your cat has ingested coffee, watch for these symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

Rodents

Pet rodents are a little trickier when it comes to coffee and tea. For example, it seems rats can process caffeine better than dogs and cats. They can also process it better than their rodent cousins like hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, and even mice. It is probably best to just keep coffee, brewed or in ground and bean form, away from your eensy furry friends.

Now, if you have a rodent problem (meaning your rats or mice are not pets but pests) you might find that used coffee grounds actually deter the little creatures. It's worth a try!

Not Just Coffee

Keep in mind other food items that contain caffeine like tea, soda, chocolate, and energy drinks. Decaf drinks also have a little caffeine that might be just enough to make our pets ill. And, if you're taking caffeine or diet pills, don't leave them lying around. They can be problematic, too.

Symptoms can begin around 30 minutes and last up to 12 hours after your pet has eaten or drunk something with caffeine. If you think you're pet has ingested something with caffeine, call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline at 888.426.4435.

Animal Coffees

So now we know what happens when our domesticated pets drink or eat coffee and other caffeinated products. What about animals in the wild that not only eat coffee but actually process the cherries for us to then use?

Asian Palm Civet

These are likely the most well-known animals that process coffee by eating the cherries and pooping out the beans. Known better as the kopi luwak, this coffee was once (and still may be) some of the most expensive coffee beans available.

Monkeys

The rhesus monkey and the rock macaque also ingest coffee cherries. The difference between them and the civet? The monkeys eat around the coffee bean and spit it out rather than swallowing and pooping them.

Elephants

Yes, even elephants have gotten into the business of processing coffee. Like the civet, the elephants eat the coffee cherries and poop out the beans.

Bats

You might find bat processed coffee on occasion. Similar to the monkeys, the bats eat the cherries around the beans. They then drop the beans on the ground to be harvested.

Coatis

Peruvian poop coffee is processed by the coatis. This animal, also called mishasho or uchunari, is a member of the raccoon family. Like the civet and elephants, they eat the cherry and poop out the beans.

Jacu Bird

Finally, the Brazilian Jacu bird is also known to eat coffee cherries and defecate the coffee beans. Yet another unique coffee to try.

Whether the beans are pooped out or just spit out by the time they get to the store, they've been cleaned thoroughly AND roasted. There's no more spit or poop on them well before they make it into a bag and into your cup. Even so, is this something you'd be willing to try? Apparently, some of these coffees are the most expensive on the planet!

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