Most of us know chocolate is toxic to dogs, but not everyone knows that cats can't eat chocolate either. Today, our Grenada vets discuss chocolate toxicity in cats and what to do if your cat eats chocolate.
For those of us who like chocolate, it can be a delicious treat. Although most pet parents are well aware that dogs shouldn't have chocolate, it's not as well known that our feline friends can't have a little nibble, either. There are several foods that humans enjoy that can be poisonous to cats!
Can My Cat Eat Chocolate?
In short: no! Chocolate contains caffeine and an ingredient called theobromine, both of which are dangerous to cats; in large enough amounts, it can be fatal. These compounds are stimulants, and when absorbed in a cat's body, it becomes highly toxic.
Dark and barker's quality chocolate tends to be more toxic to cats because of higher levels of cocoa (and thereby more of the toxic compounds).
What About Chocolate-Flavored Foods?
Any form of chocolate can be harmful to your feline friend, including cocoa powder, milk chocolate, and even white chocolate (which has a low amount of cocoa). Foods like ice cream or icing can be 'chocolate flavored,' leading some cat caretakers to wonder if this is suitable for their pet.
Although your cat may not experience fatal effects from some chocolate ice cream, they will feel quite sick for a few hours – the toxicity of cocoa, mixed with sugar and lactose from the dairy, is not suitable for feline digestive systems.
Signs of Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
If your cat has recently gotten into some chocolate (e.g. you see them licking a chocolate bar wrapper), watch for the following symptoms while you contact your vet:
- Gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
- Signs of restlessness
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Lack of appetite
- Fast breathing or panting (this is not usual in cats, who don't pant to cool themselves as dogs do)
- Tremors, shaking
Other Foods Toxic to Cats
Even if you make sure to keep your cat away from chocolate, there are some other foods that you might be surprised to learn are also a no-go for your cat. Some of these foods include:
- Grapes, raisins
- Cow's milk (many cats are lactose intolerant!)
- Uncooked eggs, raw meat/bones, raw dough
- Garlic, onions, leeks
- Uncooked potatoes, tomatoes
Diagnosing & Treating Food Toxicity In Cats
If your cat eats chocolate, try to keep as calm as possible. Cats are very sensitive to your emotions, and keeping a level head will help them remain calm and potentially prevent symptoms of chocolate poisoning from worsening.
When you get to the veterinary office, your cat's vet will complete a physical assessment of your cat and will ask for any information about what they've consumed (type and estimated amount of chocolate). Depending on the case, your vet might induce vomiting to help prevent your cat's body from absorbing toxins. Your cat will also be provided with fluids and any additional procedures or medications that your vet recommends.
Preventing Chocolate Poisoning In Cats
It may be no surprise to learn that keeping chocolate treats locked away is the easiest way to prevent your cat from eating something harmful. Keep in mind that this includes things that are easy to miss, like a chocolate-glazed donut left on the counter, or bowls of unattended candy at Halloween. Cats are curious, playful, and unpredictable.
Healthy Treats For Your Cat
Although it's never good to give your cat too much 'human' food (which often has too much salt and fat for our pets to safely process), there are a few appropriate snacks that you can share with them now and then:
- Berries (if there are stems and leaves, remove them first)
- Ripe banana slices
- Carrots, green beans
- Diced, unsalted cooked turkey or chicken (sans skin)
- A little bit of tuna (low sodium)
- Catnip tea or low-sodium chicken broth frozen into ice cubes
Even though your cat can't enjoy a chocolate bar with you, there are several tasty treats that you can offer from your kitchen, and a wide range of pet treats made just for your four-legged friend!
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.