There is nothing more satisfying than having a piece of chocolate, or chocolate cake, or chocolate ice cream, whatever it may be! Chocolate is a favorite sweet treat for many humans, but have you ever wondered if it’s bad for cats? The answer is yes, chocolate is bad for cats – just like chocolate is bad for dogs. Next time you are enjoying chocolate, make sure to keep it away from your pets.
What Happens if My Cat Eats Chocolate?
Funny enough, cats can’t physically taste sweet things. They lack the two sweet taste receptors that other mammals have. But that does not make it okay for them to eat chocolate. Caffeine and theobromine, two chemicals in chocolate, are the reasons why cats cannot eat it. These chemicals are stimulants and they become toxic when cats ingest it. Theobromine concentration is dictated by the amount of cocoa in chocolate.
The risk of chocolate poisoning increases with the amount of chocolate consumed, and while it is unlikely that your cat will experience severe chocolate poisoning from eating a couple of chocolate chips that fell on the floor, it is good to understand how much chocolate can lead to a dangerous outcome. Some general guidelines to keep in mind:
|White chocolate||0.25 mg/oz|
|Milk chocolate||44-60 mg/oz|
|Dark semisweet||135 mg/oz|
|Unsweetened baker’s chocolate||390-450 mg/oz|
|Dry cocoa powder||400-737 mg/oz|
|Cocoa beans||300-1500 mg/oz|
|Cocoa bean mulch||56-900 mg/oz|
In general, the darker chocolate is, the more toxic it is to cats.
What are the Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning?
Symptoms differ depending on the amount and kind of chocolate ingested as well as the age and health conditions of your cat. The most common symptoms in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, restlessness, copious urination, and an elevated heart rate. Other potential symptoms include heart failure and muscle spasms in more severe cases. If your cat has consumed chocolate, make sure to call your vet or Pet Poison Helpline® at 855-764-7661.
The first step in treating your pet for any health issue is to call your veterinarian to start treatment as quickly as possible. Your vet will want to know what kind of chocolate and how much was consumed. They will induce vomiting and administer medical grade activated charcoal. If needed, your pet’s care team may also administer IV fluids for hydration and sedatives to keep your cat calm.
Recovery can depend on the type and amount of chocolate eaten. Typically, cats that ate a small amount of chocolate should recover quickly. More aggressive cases could take longer to recover since there will be higher amounts of theobromine in your cat’s system. Afterwards, let your cat recover in a quiet and calm environment to heal peacefully.