You may have heard that chocolate is bad for cats. That is probably why you are here, to see if it is true.
The fact is, the type of chocolate that humans enjoy, is very harmful to cats. Chocolate contains chemicals which if consumed by felines (and canines for that matter) can be deadly.
Giving your cat chocolate is very dangerous indeed.
Why is chocolate toxic to cats?
The harmful compound found in chocolate (or more accurately, cacao) is called theobromine. This can affect your cat in the following ways:
- It is a stimulant which increases heart rate
- It is a diuretic resulting in increased loss of body fluids
- It causes stomach upsets
- It acts on the nervous system.
The symptoms of chocolate toxicity in cats?
The amount of chocolate consumed can determine the symptoms your cat might have. The most common symptoms are: vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive urination, nausea, seizures and an irregular heartbeat.
Horrifically, a large dose of chocolate may well induce a coma or death.
Your cat may show signs of chocolate poisoning after just a few hours of ingestion. If you suspect that your cat has eaten chocolate, take him to the vet straight away. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Different types of chocolate
The theobromine levels in chocolate does vary. As the compound is present in cacao, it simply means that the higher cocao content the chocolate has, the more dangerous it is to your cat.
Dark chocolate is the most the harmful. For example, dark baking chocolate contains 450mg of theobromine per ounce. Milk chocolate on the other hand contains 60mg of theobromine per ounce. (This should be seen as an approximate guide as products do of course vary.)
This being said, it only takes 45-50mg of theobromine per pound of body weight to poison a cat. Putting that into practical terms, 45-50mg is just 0.1 ounce of dark chocolate.
So why is chocolate harmful to cats but not us humans?
It is all to do with metabolism. Humans can metabolize theobromine effectively, but cats (and dogs) cannot.
After eating chocolate the theobromine remains in a cats bloodstream for up to 20 hours. They do not have the digestive capacity to break it down fast enough.
This results in the accumulation of theobromine, which quickly reach toxic levels and is passed through the bloodstream.
How is it treated?
Good question. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, your vet will control clinical signs of the poisoning.
Your vet will induce your cat to vomit, so that any undigested chocolate is removed. An additional method is to administer activated charcoal to prevent any further poisoning.
Further measures include artificial ventilation, medications to control tremors and seizures, and cardiac monitoring.
Safe chocolate products for your cat
Obviously any chocolate product containing cocao is dangerous. Because of this, there are very few cat treats available that try to imitate the chocolate taste experience for your feline.
And after all, from a physiological standpoint, cats do not need the high sugar content of sweet food anyway.
If you want to give your cat a treat try a delicious meat based product available your at vet or local pet store.