Its widely known that chocolates are toxic to dogs. But what about cats? Can cats eat chocolate?
Sharing a chocolate bar with your cat is a bad idea as it is harmful to cats. Chocolates pose a severe health risk to cats and may become life-threatening if consumed excessively.
Why is chocolate bad for cats?
In answering the question ‘can cats eat chocolate?‘, we first need to understand why chocolate is harmful.
Cats and chocolates don’t mix. The reason is that chocolate contains two primary ingredients that could risk the lives of cats.
These two ingredients include theobromine and caffeine. Unfortunately, theobromine can be pretty deadly to cats.
Interestingly, theobromine is harmless to humans but toxic to cats, dogs, and rabbits.
Unlike humans, cats struggle to metabolize (break down) theobromine, which leads to a build-up of the substance and cause fatal consequences.
It is believed that the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains and the more toxic to cats it would be. Caffeine can also be very harmful to cats.
Cats do not need to consume much chocolate to experience problems. So, it would help keep your chocolate bars far from your cat’s reach.
How much chocolate is toxic to cats?
Theobromine has a toxic dose of 200mg/kg in cats, but different types of chocolate contain varying amounts of theobromine.
Dark and baking semi-sweet chocolate is more dangerous to cats than milk chocolates. Because white chocolates do not contain cocoa solids, it does not pose a risk of theobromine and caffeine toxicity.
Unlike other chocolate types, white chocolate contains deficient levels of the chemicals required to cause toxicity in cats.
Baking powder is primarily used for making confections. However, it only takes 0.2 oz baking powder to harm your cat. For semi-sweet or dark chocolate, it takes 0.5 oz for a cat to consume a toxic amount of them.
Milk chocolate has less amount of theobromine and caffeine than most chocolate types. As a result, a cat only needs to consume slightly more than 1.1 oz to reach toxic levels.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats
The degree of a cat’s symptoms after eating chocolate is frequently determined by the amount of chocolate consumed and the type of chocolate ingested.
Among the different chocolate types, milk chocolate has the lowest potential for toxicity. On the other hand, Baker chocolate is known to have the highest potential for toxicity due to its high concentration of active ingredients caffeine and theobromine.
The following are symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats;
- Muscle rigidity
- Increased heart rate
- Heightened temperature
- Increased reflex response
- Cardiac arrest
While some of these symptoms can easily be noticed by the pet owner, others can only be detected by a veterinarian.
Chocolate poisoning diagnosis in cats
If you suspect your cat may have consumed chocolate or showing signs of chocolate poisoning, take her to the vet as quickly as possible.
Your veterinarian may perform a thorough physical examination and other relevant lab tests. These tests may include a chemical blood profile, a urinalysis, an electrolyte panel, and an ECG to check if your cat’s heart is functioning optimally.
Your vet may induce vomiting if your cat is diagnosed with chocolate poisoning. The aim is to prevent the harmful ingredients in chocolate from causing further harm.
Intravenous fluids can also be administered to keep the cat hydrated and weaken the toxic elements in the chocolate.
How is chocolate poisoning treated in cats?
The kind of treatment your cat will receive for chocolate poisoning is dependent on some factors, including;
- How much chocolate has your cat ingested?
- The type and severity of your cat’s symptoms.
Stabilizing your cat to address clinical signs is the first step in treating chocolate poisoning. Next, cats experiencing tremors or seizures are given medications to stabilize them.
Your vet may want to clean the cat’s stomach once the cat is stable. However, your cat may vomit on her own, or your vet may decide to induce vomit.
Another treatment option available for chocolate poisoning is the use of activated charcoal. This device acts like a magnet to attract toxic substances, carrying them through the gastrointestinal tract and out of the body.
Your vet may also admit your cat to the animal clinic for effective monitoring and other supportive therapies.
However, this would depend on the severity of your cat’s symptoms. You would be asked to observe and closely monitor your cat once they are home. You should call the vet immediately if you notice a deterioration in your cat’s health.
While most cases of chocolate poisoning in cats do not cause long-term problems with the proper treatment, you must immediately act fast by seeking medical help.
How to prevent chocolate poisoning in cats
The following are tips you could use to prevent chocolate in cats:
- First, do not feed chocolates to your cats. Also, ensure children in the house and visitors know not to.
- Keep all chocolate and chocolate-containing products out of reach from your cats by storing them in high or locked cupboards.
- Ensure you keep your cat away from parcels and gift items as you never can tell if someone might send you a chocolate treat.
- Avoid the use of gardening mulches containing cocoa shells.
Are there alternatives to chocolates for cats?
Can cats eat chocolate? No. But what about alternatives to chocolates? Rather than feeding your cat chocolates, you can find specially formulated feline-safe treats to give your cat.
Your cat would love cat treats due to their excellent taste, appealing smell, and numerous health benefits.
Alternatively, seek out non-toxic snacks that your cat may like.
Other toxic food for cats you must avoid
Apart from chocolates, there are other human foods you mustn’t feed your cats. They include;
- Grapes and raisins
- Bread dough containing yeast
- Oranges and other citrus fruits
- Onions and garlic
- Macadamia nuts
Can cats eat chocolate? No.
Cats are pretty picky in their feeding habit. However, they still have cravings for foods that may be harmful to their health. So feeding your cat chocolate can have adverse effects on their health.
Always consider the safety of your cats by consulting your veterinarian before adding any new food to their diet.