No! It’s not advisable to give your cat chocolate. While pet owners gauge the suitability of the treats they give their pets based on human standards, this shouldn't be the case. Unlike dogs, cats are a bit choosy and will easily ignore a typical chocolate treat. However, they may not be able to resist milk-based chocolate.
Chocolate isn’t good for cats because it contains theobromine. Chocolate containing theobromine and caffeine (which occur naturally in cacao) can cause serious complications, especially among kittens, which are bound to overindulge. Some of the main symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats include diarrhea, vomiting, muscle rigidity, rapid breathing, increased body temperature, increased reflex responses, low blood pressure, and seizures. Advanced signs of chocolate poisoning include coma, weakness, cardiac failure, and death.
How Much Chocolate Will Hurt A Cat?
While one taste of melted chocolate may not do any visible harm to your cat, any chocolate is too much for cats. Since theobromine and caffeine naturally occur in cacao – the main ingredient in chocolate, even a small bite can be lethal.
While all chocolates pose serious risks to cats, baking it is more toxic, given the high amounts of theobromine. White chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and dark chocolate have a lower percentage of cocoa, making them less toxic. However, they are still lethal to your cat's health.
The type of chocolate that your cat feeds on is just one-factor dictating toxicity levels. It also matters how much chocolate is ingested, the size as well as the age of the cat. 20mg of theobromine for every pound of weight is bound to cause health problems or side effects.
There are guidelines you can consider to determine chocolate toxicity based on your cat's weight and the type of chocolate they consume. However, it is advisable to avoid chocolate treats completely. Take your cat to the vet if they weigh 10 pounds and they consume:
- Over 1.5 tablespoons dry cocoa powder
- A square or more of unsweetened baking chocolate
- 5 tablespoons or more of chocolate syrup
- 20g or more of 70 to 85% dark chocolate
- 25g or more of 60 to 69% dark chocolate
- 33g or more of 45 to 59% dark chocolate
- 78g or more of candies with milk chocolate
- Chocolate cake containing chocolate frosting
What Should I Do If My Cat Eats Chocolate?
Since any amount of chocolate is hazardous to cats, what should you do when your cat eats chocolate? If you can tell your cat has eaten chocolate i.e.
because you can see a chocolate wrapper, keep your cat indoors and monitor them closely to see if they develop the symptoms discussed above. This applies mostly if you can estimate the amount of chocolate they have consumed and the seriousness of the situation based on the chocolate toxicity information above.
If you find your cat devouring chocolate, take them to the vet immediately. If you act fast, the vet can induce your cat and make them vomit to get rid of the toxicity of chocolate from their system. In some cases, your cat can vomit naturally after eating chocolate. If this happens, you can monitor your cat before deciding whether to take them to the vet or not. While vomiting can save your cat from chocolate toxicity, inducing vomiting at home on your own isn't advisable.
Instead, try to collect as much information as possible about the type of chocolate your cat has consumed an estimated quantity. Remember to carry chocolate wrappers when you visit the vet, as this is a critical determinant of the chocolate toxicity risk to your cat. Knowing your cat's weight and size is also helpful in case you need to speak to your vet beforehand.
At the vet
When you take your cat to the vet, several tests will be done. The vet can take a urine sample and heart test to establish if there are any abnormalities. Once symptoms are established, the vet will treat the symptoms by administering IV fluids, among other necessary treatments. In severe cases where chocolate toxicity has affected your cat's liver, they will need treatment for liver disease.
How Do You Prevent Your Cat From Eating Chocolate Again?
The entire experience of dealing with a cat that has eaten chocolate can be overwhelming to any pet owner. How do you ensure it never happens again? Well, it all starts with simple measures like storing chocolate away from your cat's reach.
Since cats are curious in nature, you’ll need to put extra effort when hiding chocolate in your home. Ideally, chocolate should be stored in a tight container insider a lockable cupboard. The same applies to anything you prepare or buy in your home that has chocolate in it i.e., cookies, brownies, candy, etc.
You should also monitor your cat's whereabouts during holidays like Halloween, where you may not be able to prevent access to candy. It also helps to be vigilant when you have guests in your house. While most guests will ask before feeding pets, be wary of children who may not ask and don't know what is unsafe for cats. It also helps to keep safe and healthy cat treats in your home.
Lastly, every household member should be notified about the risks chocolate poses to cats. While small amounts may appear harmless, you should discourage chocolate treats completely.
Alternative Cat Treats
Your cat is most likely to be fed chocolate when in the presence of a person eating chocolate. Having cat treats ready in your home can reduce the risks of accidental feeding. If you have cat treats constantly, you have no reason to feed your cat human food whenever you are snacking. Besides avoiding serious health problems, cat treats also ensure your cat gets adequate amounts of essential nutrients.
There’s an abundance of cat snacks you can give your cat instead of chocolate. You just need to visit the pet food store. Alternatively, you can get creative at home. Cat's love fish. You can also consider dental treats that satisfy your cat's hunger pangs while freshening their breath.