Unlike your dog, your kitty is less likely to try and steal chocolate away from under your nose. Cats don’t have a sweet tooth as dogs do. They lack a taste receptor for “sweet” — they literally cannot taste sweet substances. This makes cats and chocolate an unlikely combination. But, if ingested, chocolate can certainly be a risk around any feline, just as it is for dogs.
Why Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
Chocolate is made from the roasted seeds of the cacao plant and contains caffeine, and an ingredient called theobromine, a plant alkaloid that occurs naturally in cacao. Both caffeine and theobromine are proven toxins for most animals, including cats, as noted in a study published by the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.
Theobromine, in particular, is naturally metabolized in the human body, but not in cats or dogs. This leads to a toxic build-up of the substance, which can lead to some severe symptoms, particularly liver failure.
How Much Is Chocolate Too Much For Your Cat?
Every animal’s metabolism is different, so it is impossible to determine the exact amount of chocolate it takes to make a cat ill. However, there are some factors that you can take into account when trying to access the risk to your cat. These include your cat’s size and weight, and the kind of chocolate they have ingested.
Your cat doesn’t have to eat a great deal of chocolate to suffer problems as a result. Any amount of chocolate is too much for your furry friend. You should avoid treating your cat to small bites of chocolate, as any amount may cause illness.
Petful notes that “one small square of baking chocolate can do as much harm to your kitty as twenty-three wrapped chocolate drops.”
Some Types of Chocolates are Worse for Cats
All forms of chocolate are hazardous to your cat. The darker chocolate, the more concentrated it is, which means it contains more theobromine.
Of the various types of chocolate found in the home, dry cocoa powder and baking chocolate are the most toxic due to their high level of theobromine.
Semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate can cause issues in large enough quantities and even white chocolate, which contains only trace amounts of theobromine.
Types of Chocolate from the Worst Chocolate for Cats to Least Toxic for Cats:
- Unsweetened dry cocoa powder
- Baking chocolate
- Dark chocolate (above 60 percent cacao)
- Semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
- Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
When it comes to cats and chocolate, the severity of the symptoms often depends on how much chocolate was ingested and what type of chocolate it was.
The best thing you can do for your kitty if she ingests chocolate is to keep a close eye on her to see if she exhibits any of these symptoms of chocolate poisoning:
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle rigidity
- Increased reflex response
If ingested in large amounts chocolate can lead to much more severe problems such as:
- Cardiac arrest
- And even death
Other symptoms of chocolate poisoning that a cat owner may not be able to identify immediately include:
- Low blood pressure
- Elevated temperature
- And a rapid heartbeat.
These symptoms can, however, be discovered by a vet.
Chocolate Poisoning Treatment
If you catch your cat in the act of eating chocolate, or you notice her exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, seek veterinary treatment immediately.
“You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline – 888-426-4435 to see if the amount and type of chocolate ingested needs medical treatment.” advice Stephanie Demarco, DVM, of VCA Kirkwood Animal Hospital in Newark, Delaware.
The vet will probably perform some tests, including a complete physical exam as well as various lab tests on your cat. These include a urinalysis, an electrolyte panel, a chemical blood profile, and an ECG (heart test) to see if your cat’s heart is showing any signs of abnormalities.
The vet will probably induce vomiting to help prevent the toxic element in your cat’s system from causing further damage. It is likely that intravenous fluids will be administered to help keep the cat hydrated during all of this. And if the liver has been affected, your cat will be treated for liver disease.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Try to Induce Vomiting at Home.
It may be that your cat naturally vomits after eating chocolate, but it can be risky to induce vomiting by yourself at home without the specific advice of a qualified vet.
“At no point should you try to make your cat vomit,” Dr. Demarco says. “It may not be necessary or recommended, or it may even be considered dangerous, depending on the situation.” Always consult a veterinarian if you think your cat has ingested something toxic.
What to Do Next
Cats are very in-tune with their pet parents’ emotions. After treatment, bring your furry friend home and try to remain as calm as possible. Keep a close eye on her and if she is usually allowed outdoors, keep her inside for at least 24 hours to prevent the symptoms of chocolate poisoning from escalating. You should also take the steps necessary to ensure your cat isn’t able to get into the chocolate again.
How Do I Prevent This from Happening?
Even though cats are unlikely to snoop around for sugary treats, it’s crucial to practice extreme caution keeping chocolate and other candy in the house. Cats, especially kittens, are naturally curious, unpredictable creatures and are likely to experiment and eat weird things.
Luckily, chocolate ingestion is 100 percent preventable: secure anything that might contain chocolate including brownies, donuts, cookies, and candies, in a tightly sealed container because it’s not just the chocolate bars that can make your cat sick.
Alternatives to Chocolate for Cats
It’s no secret that pet parents love to reward their feline friends, and you can do so safely by sticking to specially formulated and feline-safe treats created to keep your cat happy and healthy.
Chocolates are an excellent treat for human, but it not for your cats. There are no health benefits in Chocolates for your pet. Remember to keep your chocolates in a safe place to prevent your cats eat it accidentally.
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