It’s not uncommon for cat owners to want to treat their furry friends. Cats are inquisitive and love to loom around when their owners eat. Occasionally, they paw for some themselves!
Despite their pleading eyes, it’s not always a good idea to give in to your cat when they beg for human food. It is especially a bad idea when that food is chocolate.
While lots of people love some chocolatey goodness, it should never be offered to our feline friends.
Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
So, to answer this question plainly, No! Cats cannot and should not eat chocolate. Chocolate can be extremely dangerous for cats to consume. It can lead to serious health issues.
If left untreated, these issues can be fatal. So, why is chocolate so dangerous? Chocolate contains two ingredients that are detrimental to a cat’s health.
Those ingredients are caffeine and theobromine. A cat would only need to eat 20 mg per kg of its weight in chocolate to feel sick. Eating 100-200 mg per kg of its weight can be fatal.
In simpler terms, just one brick of unsweetened baking chocolate can land a 10-lb. cat at the vet!
Theobromine and caffeine are both stimulants. They can cause cardiovascular, respiratory, and central nervous problems.
The stimulants are not easy for cats to metabolize, which leads to many health issues.
While no chocolate is the best approach, different types of chocolate can have different effects. That’s because depending on the type of chocolate, it may contain less or more theobromine.
For example, dark chocolate and baking chocolate contain higher levels of theobromine. Just a little can go a long way.
The level of theobromine in milk chocolate is not as severe, but it is still essential to avoid it as it can also cause real harm. White chocolate contains little theobromine, but even so, it’s best to keep out of furry paws.
Symptoms That May Occur
If you suspect your cat has had a chocolate binge, plenty of symptoms might occur. Symptoms can be mild to severe depending on the amount of chocolate consumed.
The types of symptoms your cat may experience may include, but are not limited to:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Heavy breathing
If you believe your cat has had any amount of chocolate, giving the vet a call is the number one priority. Do not wait for signs to show since it may take 6-12 hours for symptoms to occur.
Looking for empty wrappers or smelling your cat’s breath can save you and your cat from lots of trouble. It’s vital to know as soon as possible because if these symptoms are left untreated, they can lead to death.
Eating chocolate for a cat may also result in pancreatitis. Chocolate has a high percentage of fat content. All that fat can cause the pancreas to get inflamed and can be deadly if not treated quickly enough. Pancreatitis can cause symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, lethargy, vomiting, and more.
What Are The Treatment Options?
Okay, your cat has definitely got a hold of some chocolate and needs medical attention. There are a few actions that can be taken.
The different methods will depend on the severity and the amount of time passed since your cat has eaten chocolate.
A common practice for chocolate poisoning is to induce vomiting. This will rid the stomach of its contents.
Vets do this by injecting medication to make the cat vomit. This option can only be effective by completing it as soon as the cat has consumed the chocolate, usually within one or two hours.
If your vet decides that it’s too late to induce vomiting, they may give you the option of using activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is mixed with water and is administered in liquid form to the cat.
Its job is to stop the body from absorbing any chocolate and trap the remaining toxins. This is given orally with a syringe.
The vet may prescribe activated charcoal for the next few days if needed.
Your vet might prescribe medication if your cat experiences a more severe case of poisoning. Certain medications can help to control any seizures or muscle tremors.
Medicine may also be prescribed to help with irregular heart rate and respiratory function.
IV drip and/or Ventilator
Some cats need more than medicine to get them on the right track. A ventilator may be required to stabilize respiratory activity.
They will be asleep during the process and shouldn’t feel a thing. An IV drip is also used for flushing the toxins out of the body and clearing the system.
In more severe cases, some cats are hospitalized. Typically, cats who are hospitalized are monitored for heart rate and rhythm.
They may also receive IV drips to flush out any toxins. During the stay, vets may also issue a urinary catheter.
Its purpose is to make sure that the bladder stays empty. Sometimes remaining caffeine can be sucked back up by the bladder’s walls.
Inducing Vomiting at Home
It might seem like a good idea to save some money and time and try to induce vomiting at home. However, this isn’t a very good idea.
In fact, inducing vomiting is very dangerous and should only be done if advised to do so by your cat’s veterinarian. The incorrect information and methods surrounding inducing vomiting can cause tremendous harm.
Not only can it worsen your cat’s condition, but it may also cost your cat its life. Many people think hydrogen peroxide is a good way of inducing vomiting.
This is super harmful. Actually, It can lead to worsening your pet’s condition and even cause bleeding in the stomach.
Another method you might hear is to use salt to induce vomiting. This is unsafe because high amounts of salt can cause high salt levels in the blood.
Moreover, this method can lead to seizures, tremors, or the risk of your cat being put in a coma. It is imperative that a vet’s exact instructions are used to help your kitty during this emergency.
After all, they are trained professionals, not Google!
Tips On Prevention
To avoid getting in a sticky situation, there are a couple of tips that can help!
Hide The Chocolate
Plain and simple. The best way to prevent your cat from munching on some chocolate is to keep it somewhere hidden.
Oftentimes cats roam around, inspecting the house, and when no owners are around to stop them, they can go wild. Believe it or not, cats don’t have a taste for sweetness.
They are, however, very curious beings. If they see something laying around, they might try to see what it is by eating it!
Something to keep in mind is that cats can reach high places. Sometimes putting something on a shelf isn’t good enough.
Remember, if they can get their paws in the gap of the cabinet, they just might open it and sift through!
Watch Out For Disguised Desserts
You might not think of it right away, but there are lots of goods that aren’t solely chocolate. The list goes on and on with donuts, pastries, cakes, chocolate-coated fruits, nuts, or pretzels.
It may be easy to forget these treats when locking up the Hershey’s. Even though they don’t contain much chocolate, they still aren’t safe snacks for felines.
Dole Out Treats
It’s great to want to treat our cat companions; after all, they deserve it. So a great practice to steer them away from your plate is to make a special one for them!
Getting your cat’s favorite treats can help get them out of your hair, and you both can indulge safely!
To avoid this, it is always a great help for others in your cat’s life to know what they can and can’t eat. Letting loved ones know about the dangers of chocolate can prevent a major mistake.
Not only is this a great way to prevent this from happening to your cat, but educating others can also help other cats. That information can move from person to person and stop more than just one cat from suffering!
To answer the question again, cats cannot eat chocolate! Giving a cat some chocolate can cause serious health issues. Those issues can lead to an expensive and painful treatment plan to regain regular health.
If your cat consumes chocolate, the best practice is to call your vet immediately. Using some handy tips to prevent cats from getting into your stash of sweets is a great way to keep them safe!
You can always spoil your furry friend. Just make sure to swap the M&Ms for Meow Mix!