It’s not uncommon to hear stories of dogs getting into chocolate but did you know chocolate can also be potentially fatal to cats as well?
Let’s get into the details to answer the question; “Can cats eat chocolate?”
Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
Yes, chocolate can be potentially fatal to a feline! The culprit that makes chocolate dangerous is “theobromine” which comes from the cacao plant. This chemical is present in all types of chocolate; however, the darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains.
If your cat eats enough chocolate, there are four main areas it can potentially affect;
- The stomach – your cat’s stomach can become very upset which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
- The heart: because chocolate also contains high levels of caffeine, it can increase your pet’s heart rate.
- The kidneys: both theobromine and caffeine have diuretic properties. This can lead to more than normal amounts of urine being produced, which in turn can lead to dehydration.
- The nervous system: the chemical makeup of the chocolate can also have your cat experiencing tremors or even seizures.
More Symptoms of Theobromine Poisoning
If your feline has ingested too much chocolate, it could also experience these symptoms;
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive panting
What Do You Do If Your Cat Eats Chocolate?
If your cat ate chocolate, symptoms may appear within a few to 36 hours after ingestion. However, it is never wise to wait. Call the emergency vet and follow their instructions. You may be asked to induce vomiting depending on when your cat ate the chocolate. He or she will want to know what kind of chocolate your cat ingested, so save the wrappers or packaging and bring those with you to the animal clinic. This will help your vet determine the course of action needed. You will also want to know the size and weight of your pet when calling the vet for the initial assessment.
Depending on how much chocolate your pet consumed, your vet may perform several tests including a full physical, and likely a urine analysis. If the toxicity level is suspected to be high, your vet may also want to conduct an ECG on your cat’s heart to see if any abnormalities are occurring.
It’s important to catch chocolate poisoning in the early stages as once the symptoms have started, there is no cure, only management of the symptoms. It is also very likely that your vet will administer IV fluids to help stabilize your cat, and if the liver has been affected, your cat will be treated for liver disease.
How Much is Too Much?
This question will all depend on your cat’s general health, age and size, as well as how much, and what type of chocolate it ate. If your cat licked chocolate, there probably won’t be much cause for concern.
A good rule to follow is 20mg of chocolate/theobromine per pound of weight. For example, 1.5 tablespoons of dry cocoa to a ten pound cat can be dangerous and one square of unsweetened baker’s chocolate can be lethal.
A few bits of chocolate will probably not have much of an effect on your cat. However, if your cat exhibits any symptoms of chocolate toxicity, get it to the vet ASAP.
Chocolate & Theobromine
Theobromine is found in all types of chocolate; however, some contain more than others.
- White Chocolate – trace amounts
- Milk Chocolate – 1 oz contains 60 mg theobromine
- Dark Chocolate – 1 oz contains 200 mg theobromine
- Baker’s Chocolate – ¼ cup shredded contains 428 mg
Remember, the darker the chocolate the more theobromine and caffeine it will contain.
So, in answer to the question: Can cats eat chocolate? The answer is no! Even though most cats will not seek out chocolate to munch on, it’s not worth the risk. Always store chocolate candy and baking supplies out of reach of your curious cat. If your pet does eat chocolate, be sure to contact your vet immediately and keep the wrappers, so he or she can better assess your animal’s predicament.