No, cats cannot each chocolate.
Chocolate contains a couple of compounds that are toxic to kitties. This time of year, with Halloween and the holidays right around the corner, while even the healthiest eaters among us may indulge in a chocolate treat, it’s best to spoil your cat in other ways. With a cat’s small body size, tiny doses can be toxic depending on the type of chocolate consumed.
What Makes Chocolate Toxic to Cats?
Chocolate is packed full of tasty components that make many people crave it. Some of those components are also what make it a no-no for cats. The main culprits are caffeine and theobromine. These are known as methylxanthine alkaloids, which disrupt the normal function of the cardiovascular and nervous system. They can also upset the digestive tract.
Theobromine is in higher concentration in baking chocolate and cocoa powder with milk and white chocolate containing lower concentrations. But that doesn’t mean that these types of chocolate are considered safe. Whether it’s a baked confectionary or a chocolate candy bar, any form of chocolate should be labeled as dangerous for your kitty.
What Are the Signs of Chocolate Toxicity in Cats?
Cats are far less likely to eat chocolate than dogs. This is most likely because they are more discriminate about what they eat, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Like dogs, cats typically experience digestive upset as the first sign that they ate chocolate.
For most kitties, that means vomiting and diarrhea within a couple hours of ingestion. After that, they may appear restless, drink more, and urinate more. They may pant, shake, or even go into seizures or a coma. When larger amounts of chocolate are ingested, death may occur within 12-36 hours after ingestion if left untreated.
What Should I Do If My Cat Ingested Chocolate?
If you catch your kitty in the act of wolfing down a candy bar or sampling a chocolate Bundt cake, or even if you only suspect that they did, contact your veterinarian immediately. Don’t do anything unless advised by a professional. Your vet will want to know when what kind, and how much chocolate your cat possibly ate to move forward with treatment.
Once at the veterinary clinic, the first step is decontamination. Depending on when your cat ate the chocolate, this may be in the form of induction of vomiting, gastric lavage, or administration of activated charcoal. After that, supportive treatment with fluids, heart medications, and anti-seizure medications will be provided as necessary.
Alternatives to Chocolate That Are Safe For Cats
If you can’t help yourself and want to share sweet indulgences with your cat, it may help to know that cats actually can’t taste sweet foods. They don’t possess the tastebuds for it, so they don’t know what they’re missing.
But some cats will want to partake in any treat that you are eating, so some might get curious. If that’s the case, instead of chocolate, treat your cat with carob.
Carob has a sweet, chocolatey taste of its own without the dangerous toxins and is commonly used in gourmet pet treats. However, just because carob isn’t toxic to cats doesn’t mean that it should be a staple in their diet. Too much sugar and fatty foods are bad for kitty as well. So, if you’re a frequent treater, stick to healthier versions such as green beans, lean meats, and lite cat treats.
While chocolate is a favorite delicacy of people, it should never be given to your kitty. If you have candy or baked goods in your house, be sure to keep them stored well away from a cat’s curious tongue. That being said, it’s also important to recognize the signs associated with chocolate ingestion and to get your cat to a vet immediately if you suspect that they’ve had their paw in the cookie jar.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.