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Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

You’ve just eaten the most delicious snack in the whole world. It was dark, creamy, and left you wanting more. Like any good friend, you want to share it with those you love. You take a look at your little furball purring at your feet. Can cats each chocolate? You ask yourself.

Read on to find out.

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

To sum it up in one short word: no. Cats cannot and should not eat chocolate.

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Chocolate and chocolate based milk products contain theobromine. Theobromine is an ingredient that is easily digested by the human body but not by the bodies of your furry feline friends. Because of this, theobromine can easily build up in your cat’s body. It reaches high levels of toxicity even quicker than it builds up, as cats do not have to eat much of the substance for this harmful cycle to begin.

There is no certain amount of theobromine that a cat can safely ingest, as the exact numbers are different for each cat. The amount that a cat can handle depends on its metabolism, size, and weight. The type of chocolate also plays a part, with dark and bitter chocolate containing the most theobromine and milk and white containing less.

When a cat eats too much chocolate, it’s known as chocolate poisoning.

Chocolate Poisoning Symptoms

Symptoms of this illness include but aren’t limited to:

  • Panting
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Hyperthermia
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperactivity
  • Abnormal heart rates and rhythms
  • Frequent urination

What Causes Chocolate Poisoning?

Your cat doesn’t have to eat a whole chocolate bar to fall victim to chocolate poisoning. In fact, he doesn’t have to eat a solid piece of chocolate at all. Chocolate poisoning can strike by any number of avenues:

  • Chocolate candy wrappers
  • Chocolate covered nuts or sweets
  • Chocolate flavored vitamins or supplements
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Chocolate pudding
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate milk

How Is Chocolate Poisoning Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of chocolate poisoning starts at home. You, the owner, must first determine if your cat has gotten into chocolate or anything that contains a chocolate substance. To do this, the best way is to smell your cat’s breath. If you can smell chocolate, you need to contact your local veterinarian.

Try to decipher how much chocolate your cat has eaten and if possible, his or her weight. You should also figure out if the chocolate that has been consumed contains other toxic ingredients like raisins or nuts and if so, be sure to take note of it. If your cat throws up, you should save a sample in a closed container, as your veterinarian may find it useful for diagnostic purposes.

You need to take your cat in to see a professional as soon as possible. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough checkup. Generally, the appointment will start with a physical exam. The veterinarian will check for alkaloids in the blood, urine, and vomit, which is where the vomit sample you may have saved comes in handy.

The blood is tested by way of a simple blood test, so your cat’s blood will be drawn. The vet may or may not conduct an ECG to check your cat’s heart for abnormal beat patterns and a rate that is too slow or too fast.

chocolate bar and wrapper

If your veterinarian determines that your cat has chocolate poisoning, he or she may induce vomiting. This is a preventative measure that is geared towards preventing any other toxins in the chocolate from causing any extra damage or sickness. Depending on the severity of the poisoning and your vet, IV fluids may be administered.

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How To Treat Chocolate Poisoning

Chocolate poisoning treatment will start at the veterinarian’s office. It’s unlikely that your cat will have to stay overnight. Your cat will probably be allowed to go home after diagnosis and some fluids, if your vet feels that that is necessary.

Should your cat be required to stay in office, the good news is that he or she will recover within 48 hours. While in the veterinarian’s office, though, you might be wondering what exactly will happen to your kitty. To clarify, your veterinarian will never put your pet through anything he or she deems as unnecessary and will do their best to have your pet feeling better as soon as possible.

Your veterinarian may:

Induce vomiting

As mentioned above, the induction of vomiting is often one of the first steps taken. This may be done regardless of whether your pet is staying overnight or not.

Use a ventilator

To regulate your cat’s breathing, which may have been compromised as a side effect of the chocolate, your vet may set your cat up with a ventilator. Generally, cats are sedated for this.

Use activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is good for more than just skincare – it’s also good for chocolate poisoning treatment. Your vet may be given a dose of activated charcoal with the hopes that it will stop their intestines from absorbing any more theobromine. The charcoal used is in liquid form which makes it easy to administer.

Set up an IV

Fluids are critical to the recovery of many illnesses. For cats who have become dehydrated due to diarrhea or vomiting, your vet may set up and IV line. This will be used to administer fluids and/or medication.

Prescribe medication

Your vet may prescribe medication to control your pet’s symptoms. Medications for seizures, muscle tremors, spasms, and vomiting may be given. They may also be given a medication to regulate heartbeat and breathing.

Monitor

Your veterinarian will monitor any cat who is admitted for chocolate poisoning. Your cat will be hooked up to a cardiac monitor that keeps track of their heartbeat and their heart’s electrical signals and an oxygen machine. They may also be hooked to a catheter to ensure that their bladder drains properly. This is so that the theobromine is not reabsorbed into the walls of the bladder.

Help Your Cat Stay Happy And Healthy

Chocolate is a no no, but there are plenty of things to do to help your cat have his or her best, healthiest life. You can check out our food section to learn more about how to keep your cat happy and healthy.

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