Is chocolate bad for cats? Chocolate is not bad for a cat but it is life-threatening. Yes, you heard it right. Chocolate can easily lead a cat to death. While chocolate is a major source of theobromine, there are other foods that contain this compound as well. Cocoa powder and cocoa beans both have significant amounts of theobromine, and you should keep your cat away from these products.
Cats experience an adverse reaction to the compound because their stomachs do not process it well. If they eat large quantities of chocolate, they can become very sick. A cat may vomit or experience diarrhea and restlessness after eating chocolate. They may also become agitated, develop seizures, or have muscle twitching. If your cat eats a lot of chocolate, it should be seen by a vet immediately.
Why it is bad for cats to eat chocolate?
The reason chocolate is so bad for cats is theobromine. Theobromine is a stimulant and diuretic, meaning it will increase your cat’s heart rate and make them urinate frequently.
Theobromine toxicity can cause heart problems, seizures, and death in cats.
Some types of chocolate are more dangerous
If you’re concerned that your cat may have ingested chocolate, then the darker the chocolate, the bigger the risk. White chocolate is considered low-risk for cats since it contains very little of either of those ingredients. Milk chocolate is slightly less dangerous; semisweet and baking chocolates are even more so. It’s important to consider any other ingredients in your candy bar or brownie mix as well—the presence of caffeine makes food toxic to cats as well.
So what should you do if you think your cat has eaten something dangerous? If they’re showing signs of toxicity, such as diarrhea or lethargy, call your vet immediately.
Milk chocolate is not so harmful to cats
Milk chocolate is not as harmful as dark chocolate, but it can still cause problems for cats. Small amounts of milk chocolate—and even some white chocolates—contain enough theobromine to affect the cat’s heart rate and body temperature. Larger quantities of milk chocolate will be deadly for your cat (or dog).
The good news: Milk chocolate has less theobromine than dark chocolate or baking/semi-sweet/gourmet/chocolate flavored chips (like the Ghirardelli brand). [For more information about toxicity levels, see “How much is toxic?” below.] So if you are going to give your cat a small treat, milk chocolate isn’t the worst thing you could do.
White chocolate has very low toxicity
You’re probably safe letting your cat nibble on the white chocolate chips you’re baking with, but don’t be tempted to let her eat an entire bar. While it’s unlikely that she’ll suffer any serious ill effects, it’s still not a good idea to give it to her often. White chocolate is high in sugar and fat—two things that cats don’t need in their diets. It also contains some cocoa butter and milk solids, which are both hard for cats to digest and may cause stomach upset. But most importantly, it contains enough of another ingredient—theobromine—to be dangerous to your pet.
Theobromine is a bitter substance that comes from cacao seeds and gives chocolate its unique taste and smell. It’s also toxic to cats (and dogs). White chocolate doesn’t contain much actual cacao, so there’s very little theobromine in white chocolate bars compared with darker chocolates.
The darker the chocolate, the bigger the risk
Milk chocolate may not be as much of a danger to your cat’s health, but it’s best to keep it out of reach regardless. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, should be kept far away from kitty paws and mouths.
The darker the chocolate, the bigger the risk: Darker chocolates contain more cocoa powder, which means they have a higher caffeine level. These higher levels place dark chocolates in that group of food items that are seriously toxic for cats. Theobromine can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats who eat it, along with heart problems and muscle tremors. In severe cases, chocolate ingestion can even be fatal for cats—so remember that if your cat eats anything containing dark chocolate or cocoa powder!
Chocolate and caffeine in the same product make it even more toxic
It also contains caffeine, which makes it even more toxic.
Caffeine is chemically similar to theobromine in chocolate, with only a few changes to the molecule. However, these small changes make all of the difference when it comes to how the body processes these two substances.
Chocolate is much more dangerous for cats because they have trouble metabolizing it in large amounts.
Theobromine poisoning causes increased blood pressure and heart rate and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, and convulsions
If your cat consumes chocolate, you may see these symptoms:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Increased thirst (polydipsia) or urination (polyuria)
- Rapid breathing
- Fever and muscle tremors
Symptoms may not appear for several hours after your cat eats the chocolate. If a large amount of chocolate is consumed in a short period of time, symptoms can progress to seizures and coma.
Getting a cat to vomit after eating chocolate
If your cat has just eaten chocolate, you may be able to induce vomiting. First, make sure your cat is calm and comfortable. If it has been less than two hours since she ate the chocolate and you don’t see any symptoms of poisoning yet, try giving her a small amount of hydrogen peroxide (1 cc for every pound she weighs) using an eyedropper or syringe without the needle.
Put the end in her mouth at the back of her tongue so that she doesn’t choke on it. Gently squirt one-half to a full teaspoon into your cat’s mouth. As soon as you see your cat start vomiting, stop trying to give it more hydrogen peroxide and keep it away from further chocolate ingestion while you watch its condition over the next 24 hours
What happens if your cat eats too much chocolate?
In addition to the problems listed above, chocolate can cause a heart condition called tachycardia. It happens when your cat’s heart rate races and can cause severe stress on its body. If you notice that your kitty is panting, nervous, or anxious after eating chocolate, these could be signs of tachycardia. Chocolate is also poisonous for cats in large enough quantities that it can be fatal. The amount of chocolate needed to poison a cat varies from pet to pet. Some cats are more sensitive than others as well as the type of chocolate that was consumed will affect toxicity levels.
If your cat has consumed what seems like a small amount of chocolate, you need to keep an eye on them for any changes in behavior or appetite… If they seem off or you see any of these symptoms, call your vet right away:
- increased urination and thirst
Takeaway: Chocolate is bad for Cats.
As discussed above chocolate contains two substances, which are toxic to cats. Like most other animals, cats do not have the same ability as humans to break down these chemicals and excrete them from their bodies. As a result, they can accumulate in the cat’s system over time and cause life-threatening conditions. The dangers of chocolate are further increased in smaller breeds or those with heart conditions that could be exacerbated by chocolate ingestion.
Chocolate is even more dangerous for dogs than it is for cats because dogs metabolize theobromine differently, making it more difficult for their bodies to break down and eliminate it from their system. In fact, chocolate toxicity is responsible for more calls to poison control centers across North America than any other food item – so don’t let your guard down when you’re out of town visiting grandma: her canine companions may be eyeing your dessert plate far more hungrily than she’ll ever admit!