Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
There is a lot of information out there about the no-nos of feeding our canine companions chocolate. But what about cats? Can cats eat chocolate?
You may already know the answer to this question, but you may not know just how serious feeding chocolate to your cat can be. Read on…
Can Cats Eat Chocolate?
The straight answer is NO!
Chocolate, or more precisely cocoa, contains a chemical called theobromine. We as humans can break this chemical down; however, cats (and dogs) cannot. Theobromine can stay in your cat's system for up to 20 hours and the damage it could be doing should be a concern for all pet parents.
Theobromine and Your Cat
If your cat gets into those chocolate treats, there are four potential areas it can affect;
- Heart: Chocolate also contains high levels of caffeine, which can increase your cat's heart rate to much higher than it should be.
- Kidneys: Because of the diuretic properties of theobromine and caffeine, your cat may pass more than normal amounts of urine which can lead to dehydration. This is especially concerning, considering most cats don't drink enough water as it is!
- Stomach: Chocolate can upset your cat's digestive system which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
- Nervous System: Due to it's chemical makeup, your cat could experience tremors or even seizures.
More Symptoms of Theobromine Poisoning
Also known as chocolate toxicity, there is a long list of symptoms that can occur when your cat eats chocolate. They include;
- Excessive thirst/urination
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Excessive panting
If your cat has ingested chocolate, symptoms may appear within a few hours all the way up to 36 hours. However, it is never wise to wait for the symptoms to appear. Try to induce vomiting in your cat and be sure to get to a veterinarian ASAP for further treatment.
How Much Chocolate is Too Much for My Cat?
This question will all depend on your cat's general health, age and size, as well as how much and what type of chocolate was consumed. The general rule-of-paw is 20mg of chocolate/theobromine per pound of weight. This ratio has been determined by the experts to be potentially dangerous to your cat. For example 1.5 tablespoons of dry cocoa to a 10 pound cat can be dangerous. Just one square of unsweetened baker's chocolate can be lethal.
A few bits of chocolate will probably not have much of an effect on your feline friend, but you should always watch for the above symptoms. If your cat exhibits any sign of illness get her to a veterinarian immediately for treatment.
Are All Chocolates Created Equally?
Even though theobromine is present in all chocolate, there are some that can present a bigger health threat to our cats. Here is the list of common chocolates from least to worst;
- White Chocolate
- Milk Chocolate
- Dark Chocolate
- Baker's Chocolate
Remember. the darker the chocolate the more of the theobromine and caffeine it will contain.
Can Cats Eat Chocolate Ice Cream?
If your cat has licked your bowl after you've eaten chocolate ice cream, there most likely won't be an issue. Depending on the manufacturer, most chocolate Ice cream recipes use very small amounts of milk chocolate to flavor their product. However, if your cat has eaten a chocolate chunk from the ice cream or has consumed a large quantity of this chilly treat, you should watch him or her very closely for any adverse effects.
In addition, ice cream alone can present its own health issues. According to the ASPCA, cat's have a hard time digesting any milk products, which can lead to tummy upset and diarrhea. Although, ice cream and other diary most likely won't kill your cat, the stomach upset is by far nothing to be taken lightly.
Alternatives to Chocolate
If your cat has a sweet tooth, there are plenty of healthy cat treats on the market to stave off his cravings. Check with your local pet retailer or online for treats that are made specifically (and safely) with the feline species in mind.
If you want to share some people food with Kitty then stick to fresh cooked meats and eggs, cheese, cucumber, steamed broccoli and asparagus or cantaloupe.
Never feed your cat raisins or grapes as a sweet alternative as these also contain toxins that could damage your cat's kidneys, which could lead to death.
Spread the Word About Chocolate and Cats
Every member of your family and those that you entertain with food and festivities should be made aware of feeding your cat from the table, especially if your feline tends to be a moocher. Most folks think they are being kind to Kitty by sharing a nibble or two from their plates, but the effects on your cat's health could be devastating. Spread the word about chocolate and cats and be sure to keep your pet away from its products to ensure he has a long, happy and healthy life. 🙂
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