You probably know that you should be keeping dogs away from chocolate. On average, dogs account for around 95% of chocolate consumption calls to poison hotlines. If an emergency vet visit is necessary with chocolate, it’s usually connected to a pooch. But, we cat lovers seem to know less about chocolate poisoning cats.
Unfortunately, there's a lot less information about the dangers to our feline friends if cats eat chocolate. And, the fact is, it's just as harmful to cats. That means, there's a lot of questions us cat owners should be asking about the dangers of cats eating chocolate too!
Specifically; Can cats eat chocolate? Is chocolate bad for cats? Can cats have chocolate ice cream in the summer? Can cats eat white chocolate? Or cake, even? And many more related cats and chocolate queries.
As a cat owner you also need to know what happens if cats eat chocolate as well as what to do if a cat eats chocolate .
In this article we'll dig deep and uncover all the answers to this significant heath risk for your cat. If you've been giving your kitty a little chocolate or thought about it, you need to learn how bad choclate is for cats. So read on!
Here’s everything you need to know.
Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
No, cats should not eat chocolate. Although cats may pester you for choclate, it is bad for cats, in the same way that it is harmful for dogs. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are both toxic and harmful to cats. If a cat eats a large amount of chocolate it can be fatal. Dark chocolate is more poisonous for cats because it contains more cocoa, which is the source of the toxic ingedients.
Why is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
So, why is chocolate toxic to cats?
Ultimately, the problem is connected mainly to that specific ingredient refered to above - theobromine. Theobromine is a substance found in cocoa and cocoa powder.
The amount of theobromine present in each bar of chocolate will often depend on the manufacturer. It is normally the case that dark or baking chocolate (sometimes called bittersweet chcolate) has a higher level of theobromine and is therefore more dangerous to cats.
Most people aren’t very familiar with this ingredient, but it can be dangerous to humans, as well as our furry friends. High levels of theobromine are associated with nausea, trembling, and headaches. Fortunately, the miniscule levels in chocolate don’t have much of an impact on most people. Your body absorbs, processes, and removes the dangerous substance before it can cause harm.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for cats.
Chocolate is bad for cats because your kitty processes theobromine much more slowly than you. And, of course, they are far smaller. This means that even a small amount of chocolate can hurt cats.
In addition, it isn’t just theobromine that causes problems for cats either.
Also, chocolate is bad for cats because it also contains caffeine, which is also more likely to cause problems with cats than humans.
Chocolate toxicity in cats causes various symptoms, and it can be fatal if you don’t get treatment for your kitty as quickly as possible. Every cat has different sensitivity levels, so it’s best to get support from a vet straight away if you think your kitty has eaten something they shouldn’t.
Theobromine and similar substances have to be watched out for in your cat's diet. It really is super important so we've covered foods that are dangerous in this detailed article about what can cats not eat!
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats
Because different cats respond in unique ways to chocolate, it’s difficult to know how much chocolate will be extremely dangerous. Your cat could easily experience severe symptoms, making it crucial to seek help from a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Ideally, you wouldn’t wait to see any symptoms before taking a cat to the vet if you know they have eaten choclate.
How Long Before Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats?
The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats will usually start within 4 hours of your cat eating chocolate or another food that contains cocoa solids (chocolate).
Nonetheless, if you suspect that your cat has eaten something made from chocolate, you should keep closely monitoring them for at least 24 hours to make sure that the onset of signs is not delayed. After that time, if you see none of the signs of chocolate poisoning listed below then it's likely your cat has not been adversely affected.
However, if you are not entirely sure about the helath of your cat, we would always recommend asking your veterinarian for help regardless.
Chocolate poisoning symptoms in cats may last for up to 72 hours following consumption of chocolate.
Again, if your cat is showing any of the signs below, don't delay taking them to the vet.
Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
However, whether your kitty has eaten something without your knowledge, or you know they've eaten some chocolate or even something with chocolate in it, there are symptoms of chocolate toxicity to look out for.
These include the following signs of chocoloate poisoning in cats (which are not in any order of severity):
Try not to panic if your cat has eaten a chocolate pudding and you begin to notice some of these symptoms in your kitty. The side effects of chocolate poisoning can seem a lot more severe for cats, even when your pet only eats a small amount. (Still, if you're thinking 'how much chocolate can a cat eat?', the answere is none!)
If you take your kitty to the veterinarian quickly, they should be able to offer effective treatment immediately. Consumption of larger amounts of chocolate may lead to more severe side effects, so try to work out the quantity of chocolate eaten by your cat to inform your veterainarian.
Although it's important to keep calm when you’re dealing with an illness or ailment with your cat, please do take chocolate poisoning seriously. Cats can have seizures and may even die if they eat too much chocolate.
Chocolate Toxicity Levels in Cats
As mentioned above, the amount of chocolate your kitty would need to consume before experiencing symptoms can vary depending on the cat and the chocolate consumned.
Generally, the toxic dose in cats is 200mg of chocolate per kg in weight of cat, but different kinds of chocolate have different levels of theobromine.
Dark chocolate and bitter or baking chocolate is the most harmful for your cat. This is because dark chocolate and baking chocolate have high concentrations of cocoa solids. Consequently, they can contain between 130 to 450 mg of theobromine per ounce, while the average milk chocolate contains much less, at between 44 to 58 mg per ounce. Dark chocolate will also contain higher levels of caffeine. That makes it a double whammy of danger for your cat
White chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa solids or caffeine, so you would imagine that shouldn’t be a problem. However, it can still be dangerous because there is still theobromine in the cocoa butter used to make it. That said, it is at extremely low levels in white chocolate.
So, can cats eat white chocolate? The answer is again no. It can be harmful, but they have to eat considerably more than other types before it became toxic.
Remember that because theobromine isn't metabolized easily by your cat, a large amount of white chocolate in one go or a build up from smaller portions over a few dyas can still be harmful. Our advice is to not allow your cat to eat white chocolate either.
As we've just covered, milk chocolate can still be dangerous even though it will have lower levels of cocoa and caffeine. Usually as little as 1.14 oz of milk chocolate can still lead to harmful effects for your cat.
Baking chocolate, on the other hand, and darker chocolates are extremely problematic because they have the highest levels of theobromine and caffeine in them. That means a smaller amount of darker chocolate will be more toxic.
Our chocooalte toxicity chart below shows the relative danger to your cat of different types of chocolate.
Minimum Toxic Dose For 8lb Cat
4 oz upwards
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Chocolate
Now that we've covered the fact that cats and chocolate do not mix, it’s best to avoid allowing your cat anywhere near your sweet treats.
Of course, as we all know, cats can be quite sneaky. It’s easy for these animals to make their way into places where they shouldn’t be and happen across foods they shouldn’t eat.
If you have small children around the house, it would be sensible to tell them that chocolate is bad for cats and to advise them not to give the cats chocolate to eat.
However, there’s still a risk that chocolate will end up around your kitty. If you think your cat has eaten chocolate, the best thing you can do is speak to a vet.
If you can, make a call to your vet with as much of the information below as you can and as soon as possible. Your vet can form an initial opinion about the level of toxicity your cat may be suffering and is likely to ask you to take them in to be assessed.
Keep an Eye on Your Cat and their Behavior
If you’re not entirely sure whether your cat ate something you can keep an eye on your feline friend for a little while. If your cat usually goes outdoors, make sure you keep them inside for at least a full day to ensure they’re not showing any symptoms, such as your cat vomiting or tremors or anything from the list above.
Determine the Amount and Type of Chocolate Your Cat Has Eaten
When speaking to the vet or taking your kitty in to see them because of cat chocolate poisoning, make sure you gather as much information as possible to help them.
The more you know about the kind of chocolate your cat ate, and how much they consumed, the better. Salvaging any wrappers or packaging you can take to the vet is helpful, as they’ll be able to use this to see what your kitty has been exposed to.
Know Your Cat's Weight and Age
Having a decent idea of your cat’s weight, size, and age will also help when you’re speaking to a vet over the phone. This will assist the vet in conducting calculations to determine how much danger your cat is realistically in.
Obviously your vet can weigh your cat if you take them in, but if you're on the phone the more accurate you can be the safer your cat will be.
Get Your Cat to A Veterinarian
As soon as you think your cat is at risk of harm because they ate some chocolate then you need to get them to a vet.
As we'll see below there are treatments that the vet can administer quickly to help your cat recover from chocolate poisoning and the sooner these are administered the better.
What Will the Vet Do if Your Cat Eats Chocolate?
The first thing your vet is likely to do when dealing with chocolate poisoning in your cat is an attempt to induce vomiting from the cat.
This is an attempt to remove most of the toxic elements from your pet’s system before it can cause too much lasting damage. There’s a chance that your kitty will vomit on its own after eating chocolate. However, you shouldn’t attempt to encourage vomiting on your own at home without getting advice from your vet first.
A vet will admisnster a small dose of hydrogen peroxide (a few teaspoons) to induce vomiting but you should not try this at home.
Your vet will then conduct a number of tests, including taking a full physical exam, and potentially getting a blood or urine sample. Some vets may also prefer to conduct an ECG test to determine whether any damage has been done to your cat’s heart. Once symptoms are being exhibited by your kitty, the vet will often attempt to control these symptoms as much as possible.
After decontamination practices (encouraging your kitty to be sick), your vet might give the cat activated charcoal to help with binding the toxins. IV fluids may be administered to protect the cat’s internal organs and keep them hydrated, and if the liver has been affected by the chocolate, further treatment will be given to avoid problems like liver disease.
If your feline friend is showing signs of toxicity after eating chocolate, hospitalization is common. Most vets choose a combination of medications to target the various symptoms shown by your cat when dealing with poisoning. For instance, anti-seizure medications may be necessary for cats exhibiting tremors.
For a little while after the initial treatment, your vet will often advise giving your cat a bland, special diet. This will reduce the discomfort on your cat’s stomach if they’re suffering from pain and inflammation after the initial chocolate consumption.
After your cat is allowed to come home with you again (usually when the symptoms have passed), your vet will offer advice on how to care for him or her going forward. Usually, there will be medications to continue providing after your cat leaves the hospital. You’ll also need to be extra cautious to ensure that your kitty is getting enough water and food.
You may need to take your cat to the litter box if they are on sedation to help them empty their bladder. It’s also going to be extra important to ensure your cat doesn’t get access to any food they shouldn’t be eating, not just chocolate. It may take several days for your kitty to recover fully from the toxicity of eating chocolate but be grateful – some cats don’t recover at all.
Most importantly, bear in mind that the expense of veterinarian treatment of chocolate toxicity in cats might be relatively little if you spot the symptoms and get your cat to a vet within an hour or two. The longer you leave it the more likely there are to be complications and the cost can rise very quickly.
How To Prevent Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
You now know that cats can't eat chocolate, but how do you make sure that they don't?
We've touched on this above, but the best and safest thing that you can do to prevent chocolate poisoning cats is simply to make sure that they don't eat any chocolate or anything that contains chocolate! So, that includes chocolate ice cream, cakes, cookies or brownies and so on.
OK, that sounds too obvious, but what we mean is the following:
- Never offer your cat chocoloate as a treat (offer healthy cat treats instead);
- Explain to your kids that chocolate is bad for cats so they don't sneak them a taste!
- Keep all chocolate and chocolate cake or cookies in sealed containers in a cupboard secure from your cat's hunting efforts!
- Don't leave chocolate or chocolate goods on the counter. You know a tricky kitty is going to sniff them out and hop up for a nibble if you don't.
- Don't leave bowls of candy or small chocolates out in any room of the house at holiday time.
That's it. Kinda obvious, but if you don't give your cat chocolate and you make it impossible for them to sneak a bite you're going to protect them and keep them safe.
Just remember that what you're preventing them from eating is anything that contains cocoa solids. That's where the theobromine and caffeine are found and that's what makes chocolate bad for cats.
What Other Foods Should Cats Avoid?
A cat eating chocolate isn’t the only dangerous food occasion you should keep away from your kitty at all costs.
Just as you would prevent your child from accessing foods they might be allergic to or lock your alcohol cabinet around kids, you should take precautions to protect your cat.
Aside from chocolate and products which may contain chocolate, like hot chocolate powders or syrups, there's a lot of othert human foods that you need to make sure your cat doesn’t eat.
There are a variety of surprisingly harmful foods for cats and we also go a lot deeper in to this topic in this article about protecting your cat against toxic food. But, for now, the following list below will give you a solid guide on what to look out for:
Keeping Your Cats Away From Dangerous Foods
As we suggested above, krotecting your cat from dangerous foods like chocolate often starts with careful storage methods.
When you’re not consuming the products above, they should be locked out of the way in a location where your kitty can’t reach them. We all know that cats are curious creatures, so don’t make the mistake of leaving food and ingredients out on your kitchen counter, just in case your cat decides to take a bite.
It’s also worth remembering that cats will often try to take food from your plate if they see you enjoying a nice meal. Most cats are interested to see what new smells taste like, so if you’re eating something with dangerous ingredients, keep your kitty out of the room and rinse the plate immediately when you’re done. This should help to reduce the risk of sneaky snacking.
A good way to make sure that your kitty is less likely to seek out dangerous foods is to ensure that they’re fed regularly with the right amount of fresh cat foods too. Speak to your veterinarian about the amount of food you should be giving to your cat based on breed and weight. If your kitty is well-fed, they may be less inclined to go hunting through your trash for extra food.
You can even look into buying healthy and safe treats for your kitty when you want to give them an extra treat. There are tons of options out there, and many come with unique benefits, like crunchy chews which help to protect your cat’s teeth, or treats that reduce the risk of hairballs.
As with telling your family members that chocolate is bad for cats, make sure they're also aware that some other foods might hurt your cat. Keeping people informed about what they can and can’t give your pets when they visit your home can save you from some embarrassing and painful disasters.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cats eat white chocolate?
No. Although white chocolate contains no cocoa solids it will still have a small amount of theobromine from the cocoa butter it includes. A cat would have to eat a large amount for this to be harmful but it is still potentially dangerous.
Can cats have chocolate ice cream?
No. Chocoloate ice cream will invariably be made by blending ice cream ingredients with cocoa powder or another source of cocoa solids. That means the danger ingredient of theobromine (and potentially caffeine) will be present. This makes chocolate ice cream toxic to your cat. Further, all ice cream is made from milk and becuase cats are lactose intolerant they should not be allowed to eat anything containing milk.
Is chocolate milk bad for cats?
Yes. Do not give chocolate milk to a cat. Chocolate milk must conatin at least 10% cocoa solids to be sold in the US (and at least 25% in the UK). That means that chcolate milk has the harmful ingredients of theobromine and caffeine and is dangerous for you cat to drink. In addition, since your cat is lactose intolerant, they must not drink milk. These two factors make chcoloate milk a partticularly bad foodstuff to give to your cat.
Is there any amount of chocolate that's safe for cats?
No. You want the answer to be yes, but even a fraction of an ounce of some chcolate types can be toxic to your cat. We cannot recommend giving even a small amount of chocolate to your cat as it can be harmful.
Can Cats Eat Chocolate? No!
In summary, here's the final verdict on cats and chocolate.
You came here to find out the answer to the big question, 'Can cats eat chocolate?' or 'Can cats have chocolate?'.
With all of the reasons we've covered, you know that the answer is a big 'no' to cats eating chocolate.
Chocolate might be a delicious treat for us humans, but if you’re worried about your four-legged friends, it’s important to keep those bars locked away. Your cat doesn’t know which foods are dangerous for it to eat before it begins experimenting. It’s up to you as a pet parent to prevent your feline friends from tasting anything that might cause harm.
But don't kick yourself if you are a new moggy owner and didn't know all this! This information is certainly not well known and that is a big part of the reason we wanted to create this article. And if you are new to the Kitty world don't forget we also have some puuurfect top tips for the first time cat owner!
And lastly, if your cat does happen across some chocolate, or you notice that they’re exhibiting signs of symptoms after you’ve had chocolate around the home, get help as quickly as possible. Chocolate poisoning in cats can be a fatal issue, and the faster you get treatment, the more likely it is that you can save your cat.
Get 30% off and FREE shipping on cat supplies!
To Find out why we recommend chewy.com, click here
Affiliate disclosure : We Love Cats and Kittens is a participant in several affiliate programs including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and the Chewy affiliate program. These are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on their sites. If you click on links in our blog posts and articles we may be paid a commission.