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Can Cats Eat Chocolate? Your Complete Guide

You probably know you should be keeping your dogs away from chocolate. But there are a lot of questions cat owners need to also ask too! Can cats eat chocolate? Can cats eat chocolate ice cream in the summer? Can cats eat white chocolate or cake even? 

These are many things people just aren’t sure about. In this article we dig deep and uncover the answers to this deliciously tasting mystery for us cat lovers! So read on! 

Chocolate treats and our canine friends don’t mix. There are plenty of horror stories out there about what can happen to a dog when he or she gets into your chocolate drawer. Unfortunately, there’s significantly less information discussing can cats eat chocolate and about what you should do if your kitty chows on 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. 

However, the research clearly states that chocolate toxicity is just as much of a danger in our feline friends. Cat is proven that cats also don’t respond well to chocolate, and as a pet owner, you should be taking every necessary step to prevent your cat from eating chocolate. 

Here’s everything you need to know.

Why is Chocolate Bad for Cats?

So, why is chocolate such a bad idea for our kitties?

Ultimately, the problem is connected to a specific ingredient known as 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. 

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 minuscule 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, which means that even a small amount can end up being highly toxic. 

It isn’t just theobromine that causes problems for cats either. Also, chocolate is bad for cats as 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 a kitty's diet. It really is super important so we have also put together this detailed article about what can cats not eat!

Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity 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 doctor as quickly as possible. Ideally, you wouldn’t wait to see any symptoms before taking a cat to the doctor.

However, if your kitty has eaten something without your knowledge, you may notice side effects like:

  • Seizures
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased reflexes
  • Tremors
  • Increased thirst
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity

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. If you take your kitty to the vet quickly, they should be able to offer treatment as soon as possible. Consumption of larger amounts of chocolate may lead to more severe side effects. 

Although it is important to keep calm when you’re dealing with an illness or ailment within your cat, please do take chocolate poisoning seriously. Cats can have seizures and may even die if they eat too much chocolate. 

As mentioned above, the amount of chocolate your kitty would need to consume before experiencing symptoms can vary depending on the cat. Generally, the toxic dose in cats is 200mg per kg, but different kinds of chocolate have different levels of theobromine. White chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa solids or caffeine, so it shouldn’t be a problem. 

Milk chocolate can be quite dangerous because the higher levels of cocoa and caffeine, usually only around 1.14 oz of milk chocolate can lead to negative results. Baking chocolate, on the other hand, and darker chocolates are extremely problematic because they have the highest levels of theobromine and caffeine in them.

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What To Do If Your Cat Eats Chocolate

Since we know the answer to “Is chocolate bad for cats and “can cats eat chocolate ever” is a resounding “yes”, 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 risk 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’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.

When taking your kitty to the vet because of moggy chocolate poisoning, make sure you gather as much information as possible to help the doctor. 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. 

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.

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 will 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. 

Your vet will 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 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.

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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, take precautions to protect your cat.  A locked cabinet where you can keep chocolate and other dangerous products may reduce your chances of visiting the vet as often. 

Aside from chocolate and products which may contain chocolate, like hot chocolate powders or syrups, 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:

  • Dairy products: Despite common believe, cats aren’t as well-suited to milk and cream as you might think. Cats are naturally intolerant to lactose, and they’re not supposed to consume any milk or cream from a cow. Cheese and other dairy products can cause stomach upsets, diarrhea, vomiting, and more. There are specific cat-friendly milk and kitten milk available on the market if you want to treat your kitty to something creamy.
  • Raw eggs, fish, and certain meats: If your kitty loves hunting, then you might think it’s safe to give them access to raw fish and meat. However, raw foods can sometimes contain dangerous bacteria and other products which cause unwanted side effects. If you are going to be using a raw diet with your kitty, then you’ll need to get the right guidance from a vet. This should help you to protect your cat from any dangerous “additives” in their foods. Check the information on any raw food packaging for cats too.
  • Dog food: It’s often quite difficult for pet parents to keep their cats and dogs separated when it comes to feeding times. An occasional nibble from your dog’s bowl shouldn’t cause your kitty too much harm. However, your cat shouldn’t be eating a large amount of dog food, or consuming dog food instead of cat food. Cat food recipes are designed specifically with certain ingredients like taurine and essential acids that aren’t available in dog foods. Lack of things like taurine and vitamin A can cause muscular degeneration, skin issues, heart problems, and lethargy.
  • Bread or yeast: There are occasions where a cat may be able to eat very small amounts of bread from time to time. However, you shouldn’t be giving this food as a regular treat. There’s no nutritional value for cats available in bread. Additionally, bread dough and yeast are quite dangerous to cats. The dough can sometimes rise within the stomach of your feline friend, causing blockages and intestinal problems. 
  • Tuna: Again, like milk, this is a product that most people would assume fits perfectly with a cat. Although it might be tempting to give your kitty some tuna when they come hovering around your food, it’s generally not a good idea. Tuna can be fine for an occasional taste, but the fish lacks many of the key nutrients cats need to remain healthy. A high amount of tuna can also mean higher levels of mercury, which causes poisoning. 
  • Garlic and onions: Members of the allium family, like garlic, onions, leeks, and chives can all cause a problem called anemia in cats. These products need to be avoided regardless of whether you’re using them in their raw form, as powdered substances, dehydrated sprinkles or cooked in a meal. All of the products can cause damage to the red blood cells in your cat, causing abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
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Keeping your cats away from Dangerous Foods

Protecting 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 doctor 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.

Make sure your family members are also aware that chocolate is bad for cats and that some 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.

Can Cats Eat Chocolate then? A BIG No!

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. So a no to cats and chocolate!

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.

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