Everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs. It may taste great, but it has not one but two toxic components that can harm our pups. However, if you’re a devoted cat parent, you might be wondering if chocolate is also toxic for cats. Can this delicious treat hurt your beloved kitty?
Our cats have a habit of getting into everything from cabinets to dressers to the boxes hidden on top of the wardrobe. That’s why it’s so important to know what foods are safe for our cats and which ones we need to seal up so our curious kittens can’t get into them.
However, there are a lot of foods that you need to look into and keep track of. Fortunately, we’re here to help. Here at Spot Pet Insurance, we’re committed to helping good pet parents become better, and we believe that informed pet parents make the best pet parents.
By providing educational articles like this one, we’re hoping to help you be prepared so that you can help your cat stay happy and healthy.
So is chocolate safe for cats to eat? Let’s find out.
Is chocolate safe for cats to eat?
Eating chocolate is a delicious treat for humans to enjoy, but it has two toxic elements for dogs and, unfortunately, cats. Even small amounts of chocolate could be harmful to your pet’s health.
You should never include chocolate as part of your cat’s diet or give chocolate to your cat in any form, even if it’s incorporated into other cat treats. It’s a good idea to keep any chocolate locked away in a place that your feline friend can’t get into.
Are all types of chocolate toxic to dogs? After all, there are many different kinds of chocolate with various levels of cocoa.
The lightest type of chocolate is white chocolate. It has a distinct flavor from other types of chocolate and doesn’t have any cocoa powder. Milk chocolate is the next strongest type of chocolate, although it is much sweeter than most other forms and contains more dairy.
Next, there is semisweet chocolate, which is often used in chocolate chip cookies, and then dark chocolate, which has a high amount of cocoa and is slightly more bitter than milk chocolate. The strongest types of chocolate are baking chocolate and cocoa powder.
Unfortunately, all of these types of chocolate are toxic to one degree or another. White chocolate is the least dangerous, while baking chocolate and cocoa powder are the most dangerous. If you love baking, it’s best to keep your cat out of the kitchen if you’re using one of these ingredients.
Why is chocolate so dangerous for cats?
It may seem odd to us that chocolate is dangerous. After all, it’s one of the best human foods, it tastes delicious, and it works with so many other flavors. However, chocolate is so dangerous for cats because it has two toxic ingredients: caffeine and theobromine.
Both of these chemicals have a similar makeup, and they can have similar side effects on your cat’s body, such as hyperactivity, increased heart rate, and vomiting. Cats are more overstimulated by caffeine than we are because of their small size, which is one of the reasons that it has negative effects.
Theobromine and caffeine can end up damaging the brain, heart, and other muscles in your cat.
How much chocolate will hurt my cat?
Although you should call your cat’s vet whenever your cat manages to eat some chocolate, some cases will be more severe than others, depending on what kind of chocolate your cat ate and how much of it.
It takes about 200 milligrams of theobromine per kilogram to cause chocolate poisoning, so the amount of chocolate will depend on the amount of theobromine in the chocolate that your cat eats. Usually, the higher the amount of cacao, the more theobromine there is.
Since white chocolate has the smallest amount of cocoa (really just cocoa butter), your cat would need to eat quite a bit of it before they have any severe problems. However, they might still have a bit of a stomach upset after eating it.
Since milk chocolate also has a lower concentration of cacao, it takes more to cause an issue. A case of chocolate toxicity involving milk chocolate would take about eight Hershey’s kisses. Dark and semisweet chocolate takes even less chocolate to cause a problem (about five ounces worth).
Baker’s chocolate is the darkest and most bitter kind of chocolate, so it only takes a bite for your cat to start having issues. 0.2 ounces of baker’s chocolate is enough to cause issues.
Even if your cat gets ahold of milk chocolate, it doesn’t take very much to cause problems (at least, compared to the amount of chocolate we can eat). That’s why it’s best to keep your chocolate in a safe and secure location.
What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?
If your cat does manage to get into some chocolate, it’s important to learn the signs of chocolate poisoning. Of course, the simplest one is finding a chocolate bar with a cat bite in it, but cats are good at hiding things, and, sometimes, they will eat the whole thing, even the wrapper.
If your cat eats chocolate, they may show signs like:
- Muscle tremors
- Rapid breathing/panting
- Lack of appetite
- High heart rate
- Frequent urination
- Increased drinking
Signs like this will usually appear between six to 12 hours after your cat eats the chocolate. If your cat shows any of these signs, it’s a good idea to call the emergency vet.
Once symptoms start appearing, symptoms can progress quickly, so it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. Untreated chocolate toxicity can lead to death.
My cat ate chocolate; what should I do?
If your cat does manage to eat some chocolate, the first step is not to panic. Next, see if you can find the wrapper or figure out how much your cat consumed, and call your vet or the Pet Poison helpline.
Depending on the type of chocolate and the amount consumed, your cat’s vet might have you bring your cat in or take them to the emergency vet.
If you have a Spot Pet Insurance plan, we can help you cover eligible visits to any licensed emergency vet in the United States or Canada. You can personalize your plan to suit you and your cat.
What will the vet do?
If you are advised to take your cat in, the vet will do a few things to prevent chocolate toxicity or treat the symptoms, depending on the severity of the case and how soon you brought your cat in.
The first step the veterinarian will take is to try to get as much chocolate out of your kitty’s stomach as possible. The easiest way to do this is by inducing vomit, but it’s very difficult to force cats to vomit, so your cat may need to get their stomach pumped.
The alternative is to give your cat activated charcoal, which should bind the toxins, making your cat unable to absorb them. The less toxin your cat absorbs, the better.
If your cat is already showing signs of chocolate poisoning, they will probably need to stay at the animal hospital for a bit. Sometimes symptoms can last for three days. If this is the case, the vets will treat the symptoms with the medications necessary.
They will also use fluid therapy to help support blood pressure and the heart. It should also help your cat get rid of the toxins faster.
By taking measures like these, your vet should be able to help your cat get back to living a healthy, happy life.
Keeping your cat safe and healthy
Chocolate may not be something your cat should eat, but that shouldn’t mean you can’t have chocolate. All you need to do is find a cat-proof way to store it. You should also try to keep your curious kitty out of the kitchen if you’re baking something with chocolate.
Chocolate is a very dangerous food for your kitty, and if your cat gets their paws on some, you should take it pretty seriously. You need to figure out what kind of chocolate they ate and how much, since not all chocolates are alike.
Generally, the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Darker chocolates contain more cocoa powder, so they have a higher concentration of caffeine and theobromine, which are the toxins that can harm your cat.
Sometimes keeping your cat safe means making sure they can’t get into everything they would like to. Even if you hear your cat meowing with annoyance at your chocolate container, resist the urge to give in to your kitty’s demands.
Now you understand why chocolate is so dangerous to your cat, and you have taken another step on the path to becoming a great pet parent. If you’re looking for more tips, tricks, and information to help your fur baby, you can check out some more articles here.