Chocolate is a delicious indulgence of humans, and many people wonder if it’s safe for cats to eat.
The answer is mostly no. Chocolate is toxic to cats, and they should never eat more than a small amount of it at one time. Cats are unable to metabolize the chemicals found in chocolate properly, meaning that too much could be fatal for them.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that is toxic to most animals including humans, although humans can tolerate it to an extent that they can eat chocolate without worry. Animals metabolize theobromine much slower than humans do, so it is much more dangerous for them.
In addition, chocolate contains caffeine which is dangerous to cats in sufficiently large amounts.
Cats are typically unable to tolerate even small amounts of chocolate. In fact, just a few ounces could kill them. Dark chocolate, in particular, is much more dangerous for cats because it contains more caffeine and theobromine than other types of chocolate.
All of this means that you shouldn’t feed your cat any food that contains chocolate as a secondary ingredient, such as chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate ice cream.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Cat Chocolate
1. It’s bad for the liver.
The liver is a vital organ that serves a primary function for your cat’s body. It helps break down fat cells by secreting bile to help with digestion.
Theobromine contained in chocolate causes the liver to overproduce bile, leading to potential bacterial infection or inflammation.
2. It causes vomiting.
Cats are very sensitive to smells, and they will be repelled if they get even a whiff of chocolate. Vomiting is just one sign of chocolate poisoning in cats, which often also includes diarrhea or hyperactivity.
3. It can be deadly.
If a cat has chocolate poisoning, the symptoms can appear within twelve hours and will increase in severity as time goes on.
These symptoms include neurological problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and a strange cry. Heart rhythm changes are another sign of chocolate poisoning in cats; this is usually the final symptom before death.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Chocolate
If your cat eats more than a few crumbs of chocolate, follow these tips:
1. Take your cat to the vet.
Don’t wait for your cat to get sick before you visit the vet. If you think that your cat has eaten chocolate, take it in right away and don’t try to treat it at home.
Chocolate poisoning in cats is very serious and should be dealt with by professionals.
2. Bring the chocolate with you to the vet.
When you take your cat to the vet for chocolate poisoning, bring along any evidence of what they may have eaten. Try to bring a sample of vomit from your cat as well as the last thing they ate, if possible.
Don’t try and diagnose them at home. Your vet is trained to know better, and will be able to help.
3. Avoid surgery.
The only way that theobromine can be removed is through dialysis, a process which is expensive and requires specialized training. If your cat ingested milk chocolate or white chocolate, surgery may be an option, but it is still risky.
4. Give your cat milk thistle.
Milk thistle, which is recommended by experts, can help to flush theobromine from your cat’s system. It does not remove all the theobromine but it will help dilute it and make toxicity less severe.
Chocolate is unsafe for cats because it contains the substances theobromine and caffeine. Cats likely won’t be hurt if they manage to lick up a few crumbs from the floor, but giving them a whole chocolate bar is a no-no.
Don’t give your cat any kind of chocolate treat under any circumstances. If you believe your cat has eaten chocolate, visit a vet right away to avoid severe consequences.