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Chocolate. The mere mention of this super-delicious sweet treat is enough to set many a mouth watering. But while chocolate is a much-loved (if not particularly healthy) snack for humans, what about for our pets?
It’s well known that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but can cats eat chocolate?
The answer is a resounding no — chocolate is harmful to cats and can potentially be fatal when consumed in large amounts. Keep reading to find out why you should never feed chocolate to your kitty, and the symptoms you should keep an eye out for that could indicate chocolate poisoning in your cat.
Why is chocolate dangerous for cats?
There’s no getting around the fact that chocolate is not safe for cats to eat. It’s toxic to dogs, which many people are aware of, but it’s also an incredibly dangerous food for their feline counterparts. Here’s why.
There are two main ingredients in chocolate that are a major cause for concern. The first of those is theobromine, which is an alkaloid found in the cacao plant. People are able to absorb this ingredient at a relatively fast pace, but cats take much longer to metabolize theobromine. This can lead to a toxic build-up of this unwanted substance, which, if eaten in large amounts, can lead to death.
Theobromine is present in all varieties of chocolate, including white chocolate, but cooking and dark chocolate contain higher amounts.
The second ingredient you need to worry about in chocolate is caffeine. While only present in chocolate in small amounts, caffeine is also toxic to cats.
As a result, it’s pretty easy to see why eating chocolate is an absolute no-no for your furry friend.
But my cat isn’t even interested in chocolate!
Cats are generally a whole lot less curious than dogs when it comes to food. Not only are they reluctant to try new things, but the fact that they can’t actually taste sweet things means cats are much less likely to nibble on some chocolate.
So while chocolate poisoning may be more likely to occur in dogs, there are still several scenarios where cats might ingest chocolate. For example, some pet parents might encourage their cat to try some chocolate, mistakenly thinking that they’re treating their fur-baby to a tasty snack.
It’s also worth pointing out that chocolate can come in many forms other than a standard chocolate bar. For example, you may be wondering, can cats eat chocolate ice cream? The answer is once again no. Not only will it contain the toxic ingredients found in chocolate, but ice cream will also contain sugar (which isn’t good for them) and lactose (most adult cats are lactose intolerant). Similar concerns apply if your cat happens to drink some chocolate-flavored milk, so it should be kept out of reach of your fur-baby at all times.
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning
Chocolate poisoning in cats is an extremely serious condition and can be fatal. The level of poisoning depends on the amount and type of chocolate consumed, along with the cat’s weight and how they respond to the toxic ingredients. The Merck Veterinary Manual has a handy chocolate toxicity calculator to help give you a better idea of how consuming chocolate could affect your cat.
The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats include:
Panting / rapid breathing
Elevated heart rate
However, if you know your cat has eaten chocolate, don’t wait for symptoms to develop. Seek veterinary attention immediately so that your cat can start treatment as soon as possible.
What to do if your cat eats chocolate
Even if your cat only ingests a relatively small amount of chocolate, it should still be treated as a serious situation. Symptoms can increase in severity quite quickly, so contact your vet straight away for advice on what to do. You can also contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately to find out the best steps to follow.
So while chocolate may be your number-one favorite food in the whole world, the same definitely can’t be said for your cat. Make sure to keep any chocolate treats well out of reach of your fur-baby, and never share any chocolate with your pet. If you can do that, you’ll help your cat stay safe and healthy.