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Can cats eat chocolate?

While most of us have heard that chocolate is bad for dogs, we don't usually hear much about it when it comes to our feline friends. So, is chocolate bad for cats? Today, our vets in Los Angeles County discuss chocolate toxicity in cats, the serious symptoms that can occur when a cat eats chocolate, and what you can do to avoid it.

Chocolate is a much sought-after treat for many people. While we enjoy this delicious treat, it can have serious repercussions when consumed by our furry friends. Many foods enjoyed by humans can be toxic to cats! Today, our veterinary team Los Angeles County tells us more about the foods you should avoid giving your cat and what to do if they suffer from chocolate poisoning.

Can cats eat chocolate?

In short, no! Chocolate contains caffeine and an ingredient called theobromine, both of which are dangerous for cats. These compounds are stimulants that become highly toxic when absorbed by a cat's body. Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate tend to be more toxic for cats due to their higher cocoa content (and, therefore, toxic compounds).

Cats & Chocolate Flavored Foods

Any form of chocolate, including cocoa powder, milk chocolate, and even white chocolate (which contains a small amount of cocoa), can be harmful to your feline friend. Foods like ice cream or frosting can be "chocolate-flavored," leading some cat guardians to question whether this is suitable for their pet. Can cats eat chocolate ice cream? Although the idea that it's just a flavoring might make you think they can, they'll feel terrible for a few hours. The toxicity of cocoa, mixed with the sugar and lactose in dairy products, is not suited to the feline digestive system.

What are the symptoms of chocolate toxicity in cats?

If you witness your cat eat chocolate or there is any indication that they may have done so, watch for the following symptoms while you contact your vet:

  • Gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Signs of restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fast breathing or panting (this is not usual in cats, who don't pant to cool themselves as dogs do)
  • Seizure
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Coma
No matter your cat's symptoms, you should contact your primary vet or head to the emergency vet immediately if they've eaten chocolate.

What other foods are toxic to cats?

Even if you make sure to keep the KitKats away from the kitty, some other foods you might be surprised to learn are also a no-go for your cat. Some of these foods include:

  • Alcohol
  • Grapes, raisins
  • Cow's milk (many cats are lactose intolerant!)
  • Uncooked eggs, raw meat/bones, raw dough
  • Garlic, onions, leeks
  • Uncooked potatoes, tomatoes

How will the vet diagnose chocolate or food toxicity in cats?

If your cat eats chocolate, try to stay as calm as possible. Cats are very sensitive to your emotions, and keeping a cool head will help them stay calm and prevent the symptoms of chocolate poisoning from worsening.

When you arrive at the veterinary surgery, the vet will physically assess your cat and ask you for information about what it has consumed (type and estimated amount of chocolate).

Depending on the case, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to prevent your cat's body from absorbing the toxins. Your cat will also receive fluids and any additional procedures or medications your vet recommends.

How can you prevent your cat from experiencing toxicity?

The easiest way to protect your cat and prevent chocolate toxicity is to store it in a safe place. Keep in mind that this includes things that are easy to forget like a chocolate glazed doughnut left on the counter or bowls of candy left unattended at the Halloween party. Cats are curious, playful, and unpredictable.

Healthy Treats For Your Cat

While human foods are generally not recommended for cats, there are a few that you may be able to share safely in moderation:

  • Berries (if there are stems and leaves, remove them first)
  • Ripe banana slices
  • Carrots, green beans
  • Diced, unsalted cooked turkey or chicken (without the skin)
  • A small amount of low-sodium tuna
  • Catnip tea or low-sodium chicken broth frozen into ice cubes 

Even if your cat can't enjoy a chocolate bar with you, you can offer plenty of tasty treats in your kitchen, as well as a wide range of pet treats specially designed for your four-legged friend!

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you see that your cat has eaten chocolate or other toxic foods, get in touch with our vets in Los Angeles County for emergency care.

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