Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
Chocolate might be one of your favorite treats and recent studies have shown dark chocolate is healthy in moderation. But is it a good treat for your cat? Why? How much is too much? How should a cat who has eaten chocolate be treated? What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?
Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
Can a cat eat chocolate? In short the answer is NO! All caps, bold face, largest font possible. No, non, ie, nien, nyet, bu, nej, nie, oxi, la, tidak, no! You may have heard that chocolate is bad for dogs.
It's even worse for cats. It is downright toxic to cats! Fortunately, cats don't get into human food as often as dogs do, so it rarely happens. Don't let your cat be one of those rarities.
Can Your Kitty Eat Bananas? Click here for answer
Why Is Chocolate Poisonous to Cats?
There are two chemicals in chocolate that create an unhealthy reaction in cats. One is theobromine and the other is caffeine.
Theobromine is the very reason people love chocolate and the very reason cats can't have it. It increases heart rate while lowering blood pressure. It stimulates the nervous system while relaxing the muscles.
This spells fun time to a person, but can put too much strain on a cat's delicate body. It's also a diuretic, and cats have a tendency to dehydration as it is.
Cats cannot metabolize theobromine as humans can, so this chemical is poisonous to them. As little as 20 mg per pound can be fatal.
This article was brought to you by the miracle that is caffeine. While this is an indispensible tool for writers, it's not for cats.
An ounce of dark chocolate can have 12 mg where the same serving of milk chocolate can have 34 mg, about as much as a 12 ounce serving of cola.
White chocolate has none. While this is a lower count than your typical cup of coffee (95 mg) it's really more than a cat can handle.
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Cats are very sensitive to caffeine and may experience cardiac arrhythmias upon ingesting it.
Different Levels of Chocolate Toxicity
The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it has. A tiny lick of white chocolate might not hurt your cat, but baking chocolate is the absolute worst thing a cat can eat.
Bigger cats might metabolize chocolate better than small cats. However, regard chocolate for cats like alcohol for pregnant women. It's hard to say just how much would be too much, so it's best to go with none at all.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity
Because theobromine is a diuretic, it may cause a cat to lose water through frequent urination, vomiting or diarrhea. If a cat seems nervous or twitchy with a too high pulse, chocolate poisoning could be a culprit.
A steady stream of restless hyperactivity can lead to lethargy when all the energy is spent, soon leading to a coma or death.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Chocolate
Keep an eye on your cat if you believe she has eaten chocolate. Ignore her innocent look; those Hershey's Kisses didn't open themselves. If she exhibits any of the above symptoms, get her to a vet immediately. Get her to an emergency vet if it is outside normal hours.
How is chocolate poisoning diagnosed?
The diagnosis is made based on symptoms and whether there are any telltale signs that the cat has eaten chocolate. Clawed open wrappers, brown stains on whiskers and a guilty expression are the first things to look for.
Ideally, you should get your cat to a vet before the symptoms kick in. If you call your vet, you may be instructed on how to induce vomiting.
You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680. They are open 24 hours, every day so you will always be able to contact someone who will walk you through how to help your poisoned pet.
How is chocolate poisoning treated?
If it was very recent, vomiting may be induced. Within two hours, the cat may be force fed activated charcoal to limit absorption. An I.V. treatment may be implemented to fix the hydration issues and rid the body of theobromine.
A urinary catheter might be inserted to manage the caffeine. To put it bluntly, your cat will not have fun and neither will you.
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The only method of prevention is to keep cats from eating chocolate. Tell people not to share their chocolate treats with your cat. Keep the chocolate covered up and out of Kitty's reach.
Incidentally, this will keep your chocolate fresher and better tasting as well. Since cats don't care much for sweets, it is unlikely your cat will even want chocolate, but don't let curiosity kill your cat.
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