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Can cats eat chocolate?

White cat holding chocolate advice
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We love feeding our cats little tasty treats, but what about chocolate? Can cats eat chocolate treats? Or is chocolate poisonous to cats? Read on to find out the answers! 

By Ashley Murphy

Chocolate contains two ingredients that are highly toxic to cats, theobromine and caffeine. Although caffeine is bad for your cat, it's the theobromine that causes the real damage. Theobromine is naturally metabolised in the human body, but not for cats. Because it isn't broken down and processed, it builds up in a cat's stomach and quickly turns toxic.


Can cats eat chocolate? 

Although chocolate is bad for your cat, darker chocolate is especially poisonous. This is because it has a higher concentration of theobromine. Luckily for them, cats don't have much of a sweet tooth, meaning they're highly unlikely to eat any chocolate they come across. But some people love treating their cat, and they may try some if coaxed by their owners. 

The same rules apply to any chocolate based milk drinks. In fact, anything that is remotely chocolate flavoured should be kept away from your cat.

But what about a little bit of chocolate? 

There is insufficient data on what constitutes a toxic dose. Much depends on the cat's metabolism, as well as other health factors like age, weight, and medical history. Whatever way you look at it, it's not worth taking the risk; even a little bit of chocolate can make your cat very sick. Plus, cats don't really like chocolate. They're not as sensitive to sweet foods in the way dogs are.

What would happen if my cat ate some chocolate?

Any feline that ingests chocolate will suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea. They may also start panting and pacing, and their blood temperature will become dangerously low. This can lead to rising body temperature, heart palpitations, and seizures. Other symptoms include organ failure, with the liver being most at risk. Unfortunately, the consequences can be fatal.

What should I do if my cat has eaten some chocolate?

If you know (or even suspect) that your cat has eaten chocolate,  then get them to a vet as quickly as possible.

Different types of chocolate have higher levels of caffeine and theobromine; the vet will need to know what kind of chocolate the cat has consumed.  If you can find the wrapper, then take it with you. This will give the vet some very important information. They will also need to know how much chocolate your cat has eaten and how long ago they ate it.

How is chocolate poisoning treated? 

The vet will need to carry out some tests to identify the extent of the poisoning. If necessary, they may induce vomiting to get the toxins out of your cat's system. Other options include activated charcoal, which soaks up the bad stuff in your cat's stomach and intestines. Then it's all about palliative care. If your cat is dehydrated, the vet might put them on an IV drip. Anti-inflammatory and stomach soothing medicines can also help your cat get better. 

Unfortunately, there's no cure or antidote for chocolate poisoning. It's more about managing and treating the symptoms.  

Are there any other foods my cat shouldn't eat?

Yes. We tend to think of cats as picky eaters, meaning we can trust them to stay away from “bad” foods. But this isn't really the case; there are quite a few foods you should keep your cat away from. For example, too much tuna can lead to mercury poisoning. And although it's good for humans, it lacks many of the essential nutrients your kitty needs. Another common misconception is that milk is good for cats. But cats are lactose intolerant; too much of the white stuff will lead to stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Other foods to stay away from include

  • Onions, olives, and chive
  • Grape and raisins,
  • Raw eggs
  • Bones 
  • Raw meat and fish

Although many of these foods will make your cat sick, none of them is as toxic as chocolate. Its nasty effects on your cat are hard to overstate. But just in case,  NEVER FEED chocolate to your cat! If they do eat some by accident, get them to a vet as quickly as you can.
 

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