Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
We are already familiar that chocolate is bad for our canine companions but do you know if our feline friends can eat chocolate?
While most people find chocolate delicious, it can make our fur babies very ill. If your cat just gulps down some chocolate, it may have led you to search the internet frantically to seek answers for questions such as, “My cat ate chocolate, what should I do now?” “Are cats allergic to chocolate?” Which brought you here.
Is chocolate bad for cats? The short answer is yes. Chocolate ingestion appears to be less common in cats–perhaps since they can't taste “sweet” food–but when it does occur, the toxicity is just as severe.
Here's everything you need to know about cats and chocolate and what you can do if you suspect that your cat has eaten chocolate.
Why Chocolate is Toxic for Cats
Why is chocolate bad for cats? The compounds that make chocolate like a pleasing treat for people are the same that make it risky for dogs and cats. Known as methylxanthines, chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which occur naturally from the roasted seeds of the cacao plant and are especially toxic to cats.
Humans metabolize these compounds–especially theobromine–just fine, but cats digest them very slowly, and so even a small dose can do a lot of damage.
In general, the concentration of theobromine and caffeine in chocolate is equivalent to how much cocoa is present. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most poisonous, even in small amounts.
Hence, even white chocolate can potentially cause clinical signs in cats despite its small size. Ingestion of any form of chocolate should be taken seriously.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
Chocolate can cause chocolate toxicity in cats and result in a variety of symptoms. Some symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats include low blood pressure, rapid breathing, muscle rigidity, and increased thirst.
Clinical signs of chocolate toxicity usually take place within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion and can last for up to 3 days in severe cases. For about 2 to 4 hours, a cat may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and a painful stomach. Signs of poisoning may then progress to hyperactivity and seizures .
The level of toxicity that your cat may experience after consuming chocolate will often depend on which type of chocolate was eaten and how much chocolate was ingested.
If a cat recently ate a bar of chocolate, it may not yet be digested. Vomiting is the first sign or side effect of toxicity. Induce vomiting can help flush the chocolate out of the cat's body.
However, this should be done by a vet. Do NOT use hydrogen peroxide to make a cat vomit. This can cause the severity of theobromine poisoning and can lead to serious stomach ulcers.
Milk is usually added to chocolate to add flavor to it. When cats become adults, they also become lactose intolerant. This means their bodies cannot produce enough lactase anymore that helps digest milk. Thus, if a cat ingested milk chocolate, it can affect its digestive system and lead to diarrhea.
As opposed to dogs, most cats are not attracted to sweets. However, bear in mind that chocolates can cause tremors, increased heart rate, and even hyperactivity in cats.
If your cat ingested a large amount of chocolate, theobromine will attack the nervous system. This can cause fever and muscle tremors which can lead to seizures. Seizures are among the most troubling symptoms of chocolate toxicity. If left untreated, it can cause nerve damage, muscular problems, and even death.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Chocolate
If you caught your cat eating chocolate, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. Any amount of chocolate is too much for a cat. All forms of chocolate whether it's baking chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate bar are toxic to cats.
If your cat is brought to the animal emergency care early enough, a vet can induce vomiting to eliminate the toxic compounds from your pet's system before it develops.
Although your cat can naturally vomit after eating chocolate, it's not recommended to induce vomiting by yourself at home without professional advice. Try to determine precisely what kind, and how much chocolate your feline friend has ingested.
Keeping the packets or wrappers can also be useful in assessing the level of risk to your cat. Another useful way to determine the level of risk to your feline friend is knowing his weight and size.
When visiting a vet, they will likely perform a series of tests, including a full physical exam and perhaps taking a sample of your cat's urine. They may also conduct an ECG (heart test) to detect if there are any abnormalities in your cat's heart rate.
Once symptoms are being manifested, there will be no ‘cure' other than treating them. It's possible that they will also administer IV fluid, and if your cat's liver has been affected, he will be treated for liver disease.
Alternative Cat Treats to Chocolate
Cats can develop a taste for chocolate even in the unlikely event. So if you're curious and wondering: can cats have chocolate? The short answer is no. You should never yield to the urge to treat them with these sweets for humans.
Instead, there are many cat treats that are not only specially formulated and feline-safe but also offer a range of health benefits to cats. Look for cat treats that are appetizing and has additional nutrients to help with your pet's dental care and support his diet.
And keep in mind that treating your cat isn't just about food. Offering them a lot of attention, time, and love can be just as good as a chocolatey treat for your pet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is chocolate poisonous to cats?
Yes, chocolate is poisonous to cats. This is because of the amount of caffeine and theobromine in it. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of these toxic substances and the more dangerous it is to cats.
Can cats eat white chocolate?
No, cats cannot eat white chocolate. Even though it's less toxic than other forms of chocolate, it is still high in amounts of fat, sugar, and milk products. So you should keep it away from your kitty.
Should I take my cat to the vet if it eats chocolate?
Yes, you should take your cat to the vet if it eats chocolate. Chocolate contains an element called theobromine, which is toxic for cats and dogs. The severity of chocolate poisoning in cats depends on the type and the amount of chocolate eaten.
If your cat has eaten chocolate, save the packaging and call your vet or bring your cat to the nearest animal emergency care right away.
Your vet will choose a combination of medications targeting certain symptoms like heart medications and anti-seizure medications. The animal hospital has vital supplies in case your cat needed surgery. When dealing with toxicity, surgery may be the last and only choice. However, not all cats are eligible for this kind of procedure.
Now that we have tackled chocolate and cats, can cats eat chocolate? The bottom line is they shouldn't have chocolates or any food that has chocolate at all–especially foods with artificial sweeteners, dairy, and sugars.
As a cat parent, you should be concerned about chocolate consumption by your furry feline friend just as you would be for your dog. Keeping chocolate out of accessible reach and in a sealed container can reduce the potential that your cat will get into them.
Furthermore, learning what can happen and what to do if a cat eats chocolate can save your kitty's life.