The deadly effects of chocolate on dogs are widely known. Does it extend to our feline companions? Can cats eat chocolate? Sadly, chocolate is bad for cats, too. Here’s the reason why you should never share chocolate with your feline friend.
Can cats have chocolate?
No, chocolate is toxic to cats, so it must be barred from their diet. ‘What makes it poisonous for them?’ you wonder. Chocolate contains caffeine, which is dangerous for cats as they are more sensitive to this chemical than we are. It can lead them to be hyperactive, restless, and have high blood pressure.
Another dangerous substance called theobromine is found in chocolate. Whilst this is naturally metabolised in our bodies, it is difficult to break down in cats and dogs.
If cats eat chocolate, it can cause theobromine and caffeine build-up in their bodies, which leads to poisoning. Severe cases of chocolate toxicity in felines may lead to liver failure and even death.
How much chocolate is too much?
Knowing the exact amount of chocolate that can be harmful to your feline friend is tricky. It’s determined by many factors, including her size, weight, and what type of chocolate your cat has eaten.
In general, experts observe that approximately 200mg/kg is the toxic dose of chocolate to cats. Keep in mind that there are different types of chocolates that have different amounts of theobromine.
Dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate have higher levels of theobromine. These make them more deadly compared to other chocolates.
Meanwhile, milk chocolate and white chocolate pose a lower risk since they have less theobromine concentration.
It will take only 0.2 ounces of baking chocolate and 0.5 ounces of both semi-sweet and dark chocolate to induce toxicity to an 8-pound cat. On the other hand, a minimum of 1.14 ounces of milk chocolate is needed to cause poisoning.
So, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to cats if ingested. It essentially becomes pet poison if consumed in large amounts.
“Can one chocolate chip kill a cat?” some cat owners ask. It is slightly possible, especially if the chocolate chip is one of the 3 highly toxic varieties to cats: dark, semi-sweet, and baking.
Can cats eat white chocolate?
White chocolate is not much of a concern as it does not contain any chocolate solids. Hence, it has the lowest amounts of theobromine. However, it is still not advisable to share it with cats since it contains high amounts of fat, sugar, and milk.
What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats?
These chocolate toxicity symptoms in cats generally occur within 6-12 hours of ingestion. Severe cases of chocolate toxicity in cats can cause clinical signs to remain for 3 days. If your cat has eaten chocolate, here are the most common symptoms that you should look out for:
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- High temperature
- Rigidity of muscles
Take your cat to the animal hospital right away for medical treatment if your cat ate chocolate and exhibits these symptoms. Avoid any delays since it can place her in a life-threatening situation.
What can you do if a cat has chocolate toxicity?
If you catch your cat eating chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately. In some cases, they may suggest that you perform induce vomiting on her. This will help in removing chocolate from your cat’s stomach and prevent her condition from worsening.
However, do not do this if the vet did not specifically tell you to. Most importantly, never use hydrogen peroxide to make your cat vomit. This compound is dangerous for cats as it can cause stomach ulcers.
Another thing you do if your cat has eaten chocolate is to take note of the following information before taking her to the vet:
- The brand name of the chocolate your cat ingested
- The exact time when the ingestion happened
- The amount of chocolate consumed by your cat
It is also a good idea to bring the wrappers of the said chocolate as it can provide more helpful information to the vet. This will help the vet determine how badly it may affect your kitty’s condition.
What will the vet do to a cat with chocolate poisoning?
The vet will begin by running some tests on your cat. These tests commonly include a complete physical exam, taking a urine sample, and performing a heart test. Once all the symptoms of chocolate poisoning are detected, the vet will proceed to give the treatment.
They will use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. If this proves to be ineffective, they will likely resort to sedating her and perform gastric lavage.
This involves pumping your cat’s stomach to get rid of the toxins. Activated charcoal may be necessary in some cases to detoxify the cat’s body.
The vet will also give your kitty IV fluids to keep her properly hydrated. Medications to treat the symptoms your cat is suffering from will be prescribed as well.
Supportive therapy and further monitoring may be necessary to ensure that your cat’s condition is stable. Depending on the severity of your furry friend’s chocolate toxicity, she may need to stay overnight for a few more days in the pet clinic.
What can you do to help a cat recover from chocolate poisoning?
Once the vet has successfully stabilised your cat, you can take her home. She will need to switch to a bland cat food diet after her treatment at the vet.
Make sure to follow the feeding instructions given by the vet to prevent straining your furry friend’s recovering digestive system.
Another critical step to take is to prevent your cat from ingesting chocolate again. Store all chocolate-flavoured food in places that are not accessible to your feline friend.
Remind family members, especially children, not to share any chocolate snacks with your cats too.
Other human foods have chocolate as one of the ingredients. Are these safe for cats to eat?
Can cats eat chocolate pudding?
No, chocolate pudding is bad for your cat. It is largely composed of chocolate, which puts her more at risk of chocolate poisoning. Chocolate pudding is also high in sugar and may contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener lethal for cats.
Can cats eat chocolate mousse?
For the same reasons stated above, avoid sharing chocolate mousse with your kitty. Feeding it to her will only place her life in danger. Stick with cat treats specifically made for cats.
Can cats eat chocolate ice cream?
No, chocolate ice cream is full of health hazards for cats. Besides chocolate, it also contains dairy. Most felines are lactose-intolerant, and eating ice cream will trigger their food sensitivity.
This human food is also high in sugar, which can cause obesity, diabetes, and dental problems.
Can cats eat chocolate milk?
Chocolate, milk, and sugar are a bad mix for cats. So, keep chocolate milk out of your cat’s reach. Allowing her to consume it will only lead to a wide range of health problems, like stomach upset, diarrhea, weight gain, and poisoning.
How to prevent chocolate toxicity in cats
The most effective way to prevent chocolate poisoning is to store all of your sweet treats safely. Make sure to choose storage spaces that are inaccessible by your feline friend.
Part of pet parenting is informing your family, especially young children, about the harmful effects of chocolate on felines. Be sure to remind them regularly to avoid accidentally giving even the smallest piece of chocolate to your beloved kitty.
Lastly, pet owners are advised to only give treats that are made specifically for cats to ensure their safety. Give cat treats sparingly to prevent health problems from developing.