Chocolate is undoubtedly one of the best treats for people, and we eat it all year round but most especially during the festivities and special occasions. It comes as no surprise that many of us love chocolate. Well, it has that sweet taste that we all love to savor. However, this mouthwatering treat has quite a bad reputation for our feline companions.
While dogs are known to rip into foods that are not meant for them, cats tend to be more cautious. As a matter of fact, your cat might not like chocolate at all since they have this inability to taste sweet things. That said, don’t cool your feet just yet. This revelation will not stop a cat from gobbling up a piece of chocolate.
On that note, as a pet owner, you know for sure certain foods are especially harmful to pets. Is one of them? You are probably here because your kitty has nibbled on some chocolate, and you’re wondering if she’ll get sick. Is chocolate really bad for cats? The short and clear answer to that question is yes. Chocolate is actually bad for cats and can pose a serious health risk for your furry friend. Worse still, it becomes lethal when ingested in large quantities.
Why is chocolate bad for my cat?
The truth is cats are less likely to be interested in chocolate. Unlike humans, they don’t have a sweet tooth and will not find something like chocolate to be delicious. However, the same cats have a reputation for curiosity and might accidentally eat chocolate or even drink up your milk-based chocolate drink. This begs the question, what makes chocolate bad for cats?
For starters, chocolate contains many components that are not good for the health of our cats. While the human body can naturally metabolize these ingredients, we can’t say the same for cats. There is sugar, fat, and xylitol in chocolate. It’s especially high in sugar and fat, which are both ingredients that can be quite harmful.
Other than that, the ingredients that make chocolate especially dangerous are two; caffeine and theobromine. Basically, chocolate is derived from the cacao plant. This plant has theobromine as a naturally occurring alkaloid and caffeine. Theobromine is mainly found in chocolates in larger amounts, and it’s the component that is proven quite toxic for many animals, cats included. When your cat eats chocolate, there will be trouble with metabolizing it, leading to a build-up of toxic substances in the body. The result will be severe if not fatal complications.
How much chocolate is harmful to my cat?
It’s important to be very careful with the chocolate in your house when there are pets around. Your cat doesn’t even have to eat a whole bar of chocolate to suffer complications as a result. A small amount of chocolate might have severe complications, so keep it away from the pets.
That said, there is no exact way to calculate the amount of chocolate that will make your cat sick. Each cat is different and has a unique metabolism. However, things like the type of chocolate eaten should be considered. The dark and bitter chocolate tends to contain a higher content of theobromine than the others. Though, the one thing to remember is that any amount of chocolate, no matter how small, will still be harmful to your cat. Furthermore, all forms of chocolate are bad for cats, including white chocolate and milk chocolate, with a low percentage of cocoa.
What are the signs and symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats?
As mentioned, the metabolism of each cat is different. However, they are all mostly sensitive to chocolate, even when only a small amount is ingested. If you suspect or have seen your kitty accidentally eat chocolate, there are symptoms to watch out for. In most cases, the cat will develop one or several symptoms within a time frame of 6 to 12 hours.
Any of the following signs should be a cause for concern;
- Increased heart rate
- Increased urination
- Increased body temperature
- Muscle tremors or constant twitching
- Muscle rigidity
Also, any of these symptoms are a good enough reason to take the cat to a veterinarian immediately. The vet will determine the magnitude of chocolate poisoning and administer the appropriate treatment. Remember, if you fail to take your pet to the vet in due time, the symptoms only worsen and can result in death. The symptoms progress very fast.
My cat ate chocolate; what should I do?
In most homes, there is usually at least one form of chocolate. It could be baking chocolate, chocolate cookies, chocolate bars, chocolate chips, the list can go on and on. For that reason, there is a possibility your cat will get sneaky and eat chocolate. What do you do then? Firstly, don’t panic but definitely take action.
If you catch her right in the act, it’s best to take her to the vet right away. There is a high chance the vet will induce vomiting and eliminate the toxic elements before they build up in the body. However, don’t attempt to induce vomiting while at home without the help of a qualified veterinarian.
Take time to determine the amount of chocolate she might have eaten and the type. Save the wrappers or packaging. They will aid in determining the amount. Also, take these with you when going to the vet. The diagnosis and treatment will basically involve performing a series of tests such as a urinalysis, chemical blood profile, and an ECG to rule out abnormalities in the heart.
If there is chocolate poisoning, the vet will have to induce vomiting to rid the harmful components in the chocolate from the system. He will also administer intravenous fluids for hydration purposes and to aid in easier removal of the toxic agents from the body. Once your cat is back home, ensure you keep chocolate away from the pets at all times.
Cats like to snoop around, and for that reason, it’s your responsibility to keep all the chocolate in the house in tightly sealed containers and out of reach. And if someone asks whether they can give the cat chocolate, you can now give an affirmative ‘no’ knowing what it can do to your kitty.