While most know chocolate is toxic to dogs, it's less known that cats can't have it either. Our feline friends can't enjoy many of our favorite foods, even if they beg. Today, our Seattle vets will discuss chocolate toxicity in cats and what to do if your kitty gets into your chocolate stash.

Those of us who enjoy chocolate find it to be a delicious treat. While most pet parents know that dogs should not have chocolate, it is less known that our feline friends should also avoid a little nibble. Several foods that humans savor can be poisonous to cats! Today, our veterinary team at Seattle will provide more information about some foods you should refrain from feeding your cat and what steps to take if they suffer from chocolate toxicity.

Can My Cat Eat Chocolate?

In short: No! Chocolate contains caffeine and an ingredient called theobromine, which pose a danger to cats. It can be fatal in large enough amounts. These compounds act as stimulants and become highly toxic when a cat's body absorbs them. Dark and baker's quality chocolate tends to be more toxic to cats due to their higher cocoa content (and, consequently, higher levels of the toxic compounds).

What About Chocolate-Flavored Foods?

Any form of chocolate can threaten your feline friend, whether it's cocoa powder, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate (despite its low cocoa content). Some cat caretakers might question the suitability of chocolate-flavored foods like ice cream or icing for their pets. While your cat may not suffer fatal consequences from indulging in chocolate ice cream, they will experience sickness for a few hours. The combination of cocoa's toxicity, sugar, and lactose from dairy products is unsuitable for feline digestive systems.

Symptoms Of Chocolate Toxicity In Cats

If your cat has recently gotten into some chocolate (e.g., you see them licking a chocolate bar wrapper), 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, shaking
  • Coma
Regardless of whether your cat shows signs of toxicity listed above, if they consume chocolate, contact your primary vet or head to the emergency vet immediately, as symptoms can suddenly manifest. 

Other Foods 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

Diagnosing & Treating Food Toxicity In Cats

If your cat consumes chocolate, maintain as much calm as possible. Cats are highly responsive to your emotions, and keeping a composed demeanor will assist in keeping them calm and potentially mitigating the progression of chocolate poisoning symptoms.

Upon arriving at the veterinary office, your cat's veterinarian will physically evaluate your cat and inquire about the chocolate they've ingested (including the type and estimated quantity). Depending on the situation, your vet may induce vomiting to hinder the absorption of toxins in your cat's body. Additionally, your cat will receive fluids and any other treatments or medications your vet recommends.

Preventing Chocolate Poisoning In Cats 

It may come as no surprise that keeping chocolate treats locked away is the easiest way to prevent your cat from consuming something harmful. Remember that this includes easily overlooked items, such as a chocolate-glazed donut left on the counter or bowls of unattended candy at Halloween. Cats exhibit curiosity, playfulness, and unpredictability.

Healthy Treats Your Cat Will Love

While it's never advisable to feed your cat excessive amounts of 'human' food (as it often contains excessive salt and fat that can be unsafe for our pets to digest), there are a few suitable snacks you can occasionally share with them:

  • Berries (if there are stems and leaves, remove them first)
  • Ripe banana slices
  • Carrots, green beans
  • Diced, unsalted cooked turkey or chicken (sans skin)
  • A little bit of tuna (low sodium)
  • Catnip tea or low-sodium chicken broth frozen into ice cubes 

Even though your cat can't enjoy a chocolate bar with you, you can offer several tasty treats from your kitchen and a wide range of pet treats made just 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 your cat has consumed chocolate or is showing signs of chocolate toxicity, get in touch with us for urgent care. Our vets are experienced in caring for cats experiencing poisoning or other medical conditions, helping them feel better faster!