It’s common knowledge that chocolate is harmful to dogs, but is it also bad for cats?
Although chocolate poisoning is less common in cats (possibly because they lack a sweet tooth), when it does occur, it can have devastating effects.
The effects of chocolate on cats and what to do if you think your cat has eaten chocolate are discussed in detail below.
Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
In addition to being awful, chocolate is also poisonous to cats. It’s just as bad for felines as it is for canines. So, why is it so risky?
Caffeine is found in very small amounts in chocolate, but the related compound theobromine is found in much higher concentrations. Methylxanthines are the compounds responsible for chocolate’s appeal to humans while making it toxic to canines and felines.
Both of these chemicals can contribute to chocolate-related toxicity in felines. Caffeine and theobromine levels rise proportionally with the amount of cocoa in chocolate.
The greatest danger comes from eating dark chocolates and baking chocolates. However, because of their small size, even white chocolate can pose a risk to cats.
Chocolate candies and treats may also be dangerous to cats because they may contain the sweetener xylitol. Chocolate contains sugar and fat, both of which are bad for cats but are not toxic.
You should be concerned if you find your cat has eaten chocolate.
Can cats eat chocolate ice cream? Can cats drink chocolate milk? Can cats eat chocolate pudding?
Cats are more likely to be poisoned by “stronger” forms of chocolate, such as dark chocolate and more bitter chocolates, than by chocolates found in foods like ice cream, milk, and pudding.
The lactose in the milk is probably the biggest issue with these foods because many cats have trouble digesting it, leading to severe vomiting and diarrhea after consuming even a small amount.
The high levels of fat and sugar (and possibly xylitol) in these foods are also harmful to cats. However, if your cat isn’t lactose intolerant, he or she can safely lick the ice cream bowl clean on occasion without risking serious chocolate toxicity.
Why Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
Chocolate contains two ingredients that pose a threat to an animal’s health: caffeine and theobromine, a plant alkaloid that occurs naturally in cacao. Sugar, fat, and xylitol (a sugar substitute) are also not good for cats.
According to research published in Frontiers in Pharmacology, theobromine is toxic to almost all species.
The roasted beans from the cocoa plant, Theobroma cacao, are delicious, but the same properties that make chocolate so appealing to humans also make it extremely toxic to animals.
Why Are These Ingredients so Dangerous for Animals?
Caffeine and theobromine, the two main stimulants, are to blame.
Caffeine is toxic to cats and can cause symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, agitation, and rapid heart rate, as explained by Banfield Pet Hospital. Caffeine is found in many other foods and drinks besides chocolate. When consumed, theobromine produces similar effects.
How Much Chocolate Is Too Much?
If you give your cat any chocolate, it will die. Dry cocoa powder and baking chocolate (most toxic due to their high level of theobromine) as well as dark, semi-sweet, milk, and white chocolate (despite its low percentage of cocoa) are all dangerous to your furry friend.
But the amount and type consumed determine the degree of toxicity. According to Petful, one square of unsweetened baking chocolate is equivalent to twenty-three wrapped milk chocolate drops in terms of potential toxicity for a ten-pound cat.
Do not risk your cat’s health by giving it even a tiny taste of chocolate.
Signs of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats typically appear 6-12 hours after your cat eats chocolate and can last for 3 days.
In cats, it’s alarming to see any of the following clinical symptoms:
- Reduced hunger
- Dryness of the mouth
- The Urinary Tract Changes
- a sped-up heartbeat
- Hyperventilation; panting
- Shaking muscles
Can Cats Die From Chocolate?
It is true that a chocolate overdose can be fatal for a cat.
Death or serious illness can occur if a cat of any size eats even a small amount of the wrong kind of chocolate.
For instance, even half an ounce of 86% cocoa is enough to cause severe seizures in an 8-pound cat, and more than half an ounce could be fatal.
Even less than half an ounce of baking chocolate can be fatal to a cat. And less than half an ounce of cocoa beans can be fatal to a cat.
Rapid deterioration in chocolate poisoning symptoms is possible. Muscle tremors and spasms can cause dangerously high body temperatures, while changes in heart rate and rhythm can cause dangerously low blood pressure.
These alterations are potentially lethal if not addressed.
The sooner your cat receives treatment for any exposure to a toxic substance, the better. If you take your cat to the vet right after it eats chocolate, you can get rid of most of the poison before it has a chance to do any real damage.
The prognosis worsens with time and the presence of more severe symptoms. Cats should always see a vet right away if anything seems wrong.
What If My Cat Ate Chocolate?
Cats shouldn’t eat chocolate, so if you think yours has, get in touch with your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 762-7661 right away.
Leave it to the professionals and don’t give your cat anything to make it throw up unless your vet tells you to. This can exacerbate the problem and lead to serious consequences.
The following details, if at all possible, are helpful to have on hand:
- The time of ingestion
- The brand and name of the item consumed (packaging is useful but not required).
- The estimated amount of chocolate your cat devoured
- Describe any and all clinical symptoms
Even though a trip to the vet is probably in order, providing them with this information ahead of time will allow them to better assess your cat’s risk and formulate a treatment strategy.
What Happens Next?
Keep your cool; cats can sense even the slightest changes in their owners’ demeanor. You can slow the progression of chocolate poisoning by keeping the victim cool, calm, and quiet.
The veterinarian will examine your cat once you get there and determine how much and what kind of chocolate your cat has consumed.
Depending on how much chocolate your cat ate and how sick it is, the vet may decide to induce vomiting in order to help prevent your cat from absorbing the toxins, in addition to providing fluids and additional care.
How Vets Treat Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
The following are common methods used to treat chocolate poisoning in cats:
First, you need to induce vomiting in your cat to remove as much of the chocolate from its stomach as possible. Even with the medications available at your veterinarian’s office, it can be difficult to induce vomiting in a cat.
Do NOT attempt to induce vomiting in your cat at home.
Some cats may be given activated charcoal to bind the toxins if inducing vomiting is unsuccessful and there is a high risk of toxicity. The alternative is to sedate them and force food down their throats. Less absorption of a toxin means fewer potential negative effects.
Hospitalization, Medication, and Fluid Therapy
Cats exhibiting clinical signs of toxicity will likely require hospitalization.
Your veterinarian will select a treatment plan that includes anti-seizure drugs for tremors and heart medications for arrhythmias. Your cat’s heart and blood pressure will be supported by fluid therapy, and the toxin will be excreted more quickly.
How Do I Prevent This from Happening?
Keep chocolate where pets can’t get to them to eliminate the risk of chocolate poisoning. Keep all chocolate locked away, as cats are unpredictable and curious creatures that like to investigate new things in the kitchen.
Keep in mind that it’s not just the chocolate bars themselves, but anything sweet or baked that contains chocolate that could make them ill. This is especially true on Halloween and other celebration days.
If you have a cat, you should keep candy dishes out of your cat’s reach and put them away safely as soon as the party is over. In response to the question “can cats eat chocolate? ” You can now confidently respond with a categorical negative to that question.
Cat owners like to spoil their furry friends with tasty treats, and they can do so without worrying about their feline’s health or safety if they stick to safe cat treats. Then the chocolate is all yours to eat by yourself!
Can Cats Eat White Chocolate?
The short answer is “yes,” white chocolate is safe for cats to eat.
White chocolate is less dangerous than regular chocolate because it lacks caffeine and other stimulants. A small amount of white chocolate licked by your cat is perfectly safe.
White chocolate is fine, but don’t overindulge your cat. Even though dark chocolate contains less theobromine and is less toxic than milk chocolate, dark chocolate is still not safe for your cat to eat in large quantities.
Is It Bad If My Cat Licked Chocolate?
Licking a small amount (especially of milk chocolate) is unlikely to cause harm due to the fact that the type of chocolate eaten and the amount eaten are both factors in developing chocolate toxicosis.
As was previously mentioned, however, even eating a small amount of dark, unsweetened chocolate can be dangerous. It’s best to play it safe and get in touch with poison control or your vet if you suspect your cat has consumed any amount of chocolate.
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so avoid even the tiniest amount of milk chocolate.