Chocolate is prepared from the fruits of Theobroma cacao. The tropical trees which are native to the Amazon and South America thrive in hot, humid areas that lie within 20 degrees of the Equator. Due to the high demand for chocolate, other plantations were established in West Africa and Southeast Asia, with these regions currently accounting for 79% of the world’s cacao production.
Chocolate has been termed as the most popular treat in the world. World Cocoa Foundation estimates that more than 3 million tons of Cocoa beans are consumed annually worldwide, with Europe and the United States leading in consumption. Consumption of Chocolate has been known to elevate moods. It is good for our hearts and our brains as well.
These reasons should explain why it is likely to find chocolate in areas where cats may come across it. While chocolate is good for human consumption, it is important to understand that this treat is toxic to our furry friends. Cats dislike sweet things, which would explain why chocolate ingestion is not common. Whenever this happens, it is severe and could cost their lives.
Chocolate contains caffeine in small amounts and theobromine from the cacao trees. Theobromine causes problems with the nervous system, kidneys, bowels, and heart. These two ingredients are toxic when they get to the cat’s bloodstream, and they both contribute to the clinical signs of toxicity in their bodies.
What types of Chocolates Are Harmful to Cats?
Chocolate comes in different forms, which can all cause poisoning by ingestion. It is found in both baked and candy goods and can also be found in our gardens. Therefore, cat owners are advised against gardening with cocoa beans for the kitty’s safety. There are various types of chocolates which are all toxic to cats. They include;
- Dark Chocolate- It has chocolate liquor, sugar, vanilla, and cocoa butter
- Milk Chocolate- Has all the ingredients of the dark chocolate plus milk fats and solids.
- White Chocolate- It contains everything milk chocolate contains except for liquor.
- Baking Chocolate
- Baked Goods
- Cocoa Bean Mulch
- Chocolate Flavored Multi-Vitamins
- Candy Wrappers
All forms of chocolate cause severe complications. However, the level of toxicity depends on the amount ingested. Younger kittens are more likely to be at a higher risk after consuming an extremely small dose than older cats. This does not mean that older cats are tolerable to chocolate by any means. Chocolate should be kept away from cats of all ages as any amount may cause illness.
Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats.
The symptoms experienced by a cat after ingesting chocolate mostly depend on the type of chocolate eaten and the quantity. Amongst the chocolate types found at home, baker’s chocolate has the highest toxicity risk due to its high concentration of caffeine and theobromine, while milk chocolate has the lowest potential risk since it is mainly made from cocoa butter and not cocoa theobromine. The Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include;
- Rapid breathing or panting
- Increased body temperature
- increased reflex response
- Muscle rigidity
- Excessive thirst and excessive urination
Other symptoms like low blood pressure and increased heartbeat are only detectable by a veterinarian.
What should you do if your cat eats chocolate?
If you feel that your cat has eaten chocolate, immediately contact your veterinarian. Ensure that you do not use hydrogen peroxide to try and make your cat vomit as it may later cause severe ulcers to the cat
If possible, it is good to have the following details with you as they will assist in treatment.
- When the ingestion occurred.
- Amounts of chocolate ingested.
- The specific product that was ingested. Bringing wrappers to the vet can be helpful
- A list of signs and symptoms you may have observed.
Having this information will fasten the treatment process since the vet will start planning the treatment while you are on your way.
The cat may show signs of chocolate poisoning in some cases, but you have no evidence of any chocolate ingestion. When this happens, the vet will conduct a full examination and panel tests to provide diagnostic information. The tests will also highlight all the cat’s medical problems, and proper treatment will be given.
How is Chocolate Poisoning Treated?
The treatment depends on the size of the cat and how much chocolate they have consumed. After diagnosis, your cat may receive any of the following treatments;
- Activated Charcoal – To prevent the upper intestines and stomach from absorbing more chocolate, the activated charcoal liquid is given by mouth.
- Induce Vomiting – If your cat has ingested chocolate within the last 2 hours, the vet will induce vomiting to completely remove any particles that may still be in the stomach.
- Medication – To control the muscle tremors and seizures caused by chocolate poisoning, the cat may receive medication. It will also help in the regulation of the heart and respiratory activity.
- Hospitalization – Some severe cases will require the cat to be hospitalized for a couple of days. While hospitalized, they will receive intravenous fluids that help remove chemicals from the body. They will also use cardiac monitoring to track their heart’s rhythm and rate. To ensure the caffeine is not reabsorbed in the body, a urinary catheter will be administered, which will keep the bladder empty at all times. After treatment, it is important to adhere to the veterinarian’s instructions and feed your cat a balanced diet that will enhance recovery. Follow-up treatments could be necessary in some cases to ensure a full recovery. It is necessary to make sure your cat will not access any chocolate in the future.
- Ventilator – If necessary, your cat will be put on a ventilator to help stabilize the respiratory activity. During this process, he will be sedated.
Due to their curiosity, you cannot be sure that your cat will not eat chocolate at one time or another in their lives. When this happens, take him or her to the vet for a proper diagnosis. This will not only offer her treatment, but it will also prevent issues such as allergic reactions and life-threatening health complications.