Can Cats Eat Chocolate? Is It Bad For Them?
Many people are already aware that chocolate is not a safe food to give to their dog, but it is less commonly known how the sweet substance affects cats. Well, this is the topic that we are going to be covering in this blog post. After all, you don’t want to put your furry friend in danger by feeding them something that they shouldn’t eat. And chocolate is not a safe food to give to your cat. It presents a major health risk and it could even be fatal if too much of it is ingested.
While your cat may not be as interested in stealing chocolate as your dog, they may still be drawn to the milkier version of the substance. Cocoa and chocolate contain an ingredient known as theobromine, which gets metabolized in the human body – but the same is not true in dogs and cats. If the substance builds up toxically, this can result in serious issues like liver failure. And it doesn’t take much for chocolate to cause a problem, so you should keep it out of reach in a cabinet that closes properly.
If your cat does happen to get their paws on any chocolate, there are a couple of factors that will impact how badly it will affect them including how much they have consumed, their size and weight, and how much of it they have consumed.
Why is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
Chocolate contains two substances that are especially dangerous for the health of your cat: caffeine and theobromine. The former is a stimulant that becomes toxic when it is absorbed into your cat’s body. A few of the potential problems include vomiting, diarrhea, an increased heart rate, higher thirst, and restlessness. The latter is a toxin for most animals including cats, which can produce many similar symptoms. It also contains other substances that aren’t good for your kitty including sugar, fat, and xylitol.
How Much is Too Much?
It is best to assume that any amount of chocolate is too much for your cat, so make it a rule of thumb to always avoid feeding them. And there is no form of chocolate that can be considered safe for your pet – even dry cocoa and baking powder. While white chocolate contains a lower percentage of cocoa, this should not be considered safe either. Any amount can cause illness, so just keep it away from your cat as it is always going to do more harm than good.
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
If your cat does manage to chow down on some chocolate, there are a few symptoms to watch out for that will tell you that all is not right. First, you have the obvious vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. You should also expect an increased heartrate and a higher rate of breathing. Excessive thirst and urination are common, and you may also notice hyperactivity and restlessness. In more serious cases, seizure and a state of coma may even occur.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, you shouldn’t delay – get in touch with your vet at the earliest possible opportunity. You need to determine the extent of the poisoning so you can start issuing treatment. You will need to continue monitoring your cat for any other negative symptoms to ensure that it is out of their system.
How to Respond If Your Cat Eats Chocolate
You need to stay calm in the first instance as pets respond to the way that their owners behave. Unless there is some sort of medical emergency, you should keep your cat in a calm and quiet place. The vet may ask you to make your cat vomit to prevent digestion of the toxins – or your cat may vomit naturally after eating chocolate anyway.
A number of factors will impact whether further treatment is required including the health and weight of your cat, along with the amount and type of chocolate ingested. Bring any wrappers into your vet to show them what has been eaten. All of this information can be useful to your vet. Tests will be required and possibly the administration of fluids to rehydrate your cat.
If you have an outdoor cat, you will probably need to keep them indoors for a period of 24 hours to ensure that no further symptoms develop. Keep your doors and windows closed and lock your cat flap during this time to stop them from getting out. There is no specific ‘cure’ other than administering IV fluids. If the liver has been affected in some way, your cat will need to be treated for liver disease.
How to Prevent Chocolate Ingestion
The thing about chocolate ingestion is that it is entirely preventable. Cats are naturally curious explorers, so if they get a whiff of a substance that they may be able to eat, there is every chance that they are going to try it. Put anything chocolatey in sealed containers that aren’t accessible to your kitty. There are certain times of the year when treats are more likely to be left out such as Halloween and Christmas, so these are the occasions when you need to be especially careful. If possible, you should put everything in cabinets or drawers which your cats have absolutely no chance of accessing.
Alternatives to Chocolate
The best alternative to chocolate is to give your cat specially formulated treats. Cats don’t tend to do well with human food in the same way that dogs enjoy it, so you should choose something that adds nutrients to their diet. The longer you get to know your cat, the easier it is to determine their diet, what they enjoy, and what they aren’t so keen on.
The bottom line is that no amount of chocolate is safe for your cat, so you should always keep it out of their reach.