Can Cats Have Chocolate?

Key takeaway

Cats should never consume chocolate because it contains caffeine and theobromine, compounds that are toxic to cats and can be lethal. Any amount of chocolate can be dangerous for cats, with symptoms ranging from mild GI problems to severe symptoms such as tremors, coma, and death.

Every dog parent knows they should never feed their dog chocolate, but as a cat parent, you might wonder, "can my cat have chocolate?" Chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs, so your cat should never have chocolate because it could be harmful to their health and lead to death. Cats are less likely to break into your chocolate stash than dogs, but that doesn't mean they won't, at some point in their lives, have a taste for it.

Cats don't have the same sweet tooth as dogs, but they will sometimes eat whatever you give them. Unfortunately, the toxicity of chocolate for cats is just as bad as it is for dogs. This article will discuss why cats can't have chocolate and what to do if your cat eats it.

Why Can't Cats Have Chocolate?

Chocolate contains compounds that are toxic to cats. If you're wondering, "can dogs eat chocolate?" The answer is no; chocolate is toxic to all pets. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which can contribute to toxicity in dogs.1 The concentration of these compounds depends on the amount of cocoa in the chocolate,1 so you might wonder, "can cats have white chocolate?" Unfortunately, all chocolate is bad for cats and can cause a fatal reaction. For example, white chocolate is less dangerous than dark chocolate and concentrated chocolate, but any type of chocolate can potentially be dangerous to cats.

Depending on the chocolate product, it may also contain sugar and fat, which should never be added to your cat's diet.

Signs of Chocolate Toxicity In Cats

Different amounts of chocolate affect cats differently, depending on the type of chocolate. However, common signs of chocolate toxicity in cats include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Panting or rapid breathing
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma1

The stimulants in chocolate can cause a variety of symptoms, which can range depending on the dose.2 For example, if your cat is drinking a lot of water, they might be dehydrated due to fluid loss caused by diarrhea and vomiting. Frequent urination in cats is also common because of their excessive thirst.

Luckily, cats don't enjoy sugary foods as much as dogs, so your cat might not be interested in eating chocolate you leave unattended. Symptoms of toxicity usually begin in the first twelve hours after chocolate consumption, and they can progress quickly. If your cat begins having any of the above symptoms, take them to the vet immediately for evaluation.

Even if you're unsure whether your cat had chocolate, you should always take your cat to an emergency vet if they're experiencing severe symptoms, including muscle tremors and seizures. However, if you know your cat ate chocolate, taking them to an emergency vet clinic before they start showing symptoms can be life-saving, depending on how much they consumed.

What To Do If Your Cat Ate Chocolate

Any amount of chocolate, no matter what type of chocolate or the type of product, is toxic to your cat. Everything from baking powder to chocolate bars and even ice cream can result in mild to severe symptoms. It's always best to keep chocolate away from your cat and never share your snacks with them.

However, accidents happen. If your cat consumes chocolate when you weren't looking or got into the sweets cabinet, they should be taken to an emergency vet clinic as soon as possible. Even if your cat only consumes a small amount that might not be toxic to them, you can ensure no harm will come to your cat by having them examined by a vet because any amount of chocolate can cause illness.

If you believe your cat has consumed chocolate of any kind, call your veterinarian or take them to an emergency vet clinic. You can also call the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661, but remember every second counts when your cat consumes something toxic. Don't wait to get your cat the help they need.

When talking to your vet, it's best to be able to tell them how much your cat ate and the type of chocolate they ate, along with your cat's weight, to help them come up with the best treatment plan. Depending on your cat's symptoms and the information you provide, your cat's treatment might involve inducing vomiting and providing supportive care,1 such as giving your cat fluids.

Typically, your vet will first decontaminate the cat to get the chocolate out of their digestive system. Unfortunately, inducing vomit in cats is not as easy as it is with dogs. No pet parent should try to induce vomiting on their own1 without the guidance of a vet. Instead, let your veterinarian begin treatment as soon as you get to their office.

If your vet is unable to get your cat to vomit, they may use charcoal to soak up the toxins and then pump your cat's stomach.1 While these techniques might not remove all of the toxic compounds of chocolate, they can remove a large quantity to reduce their effects on your cat. This treatment from your vet can be life-saving, so it's important to act fast when your cat has consumed chocolate.

Supportive care typically involves caring for the cat after they've been through initial decontamination. If your cat is not showing symptoms of toxicity, your vet might allow you to take them home and monitor them. However, if your cat is showing signs of chocolate toxicity, they may have to be hospitalized after decontamination to monitor their vitals. Supportive care may involve a variety of medications and fluid therapy to help your cat's body eliminate the toxins.1

How To Prevent Your Cat From Eating Chocolate

The best way to keep your cat safe from the harmful effects of chocolate is to help them avoid ingesting it. Cats are less likely to break into your chocolate than dogs because they don't have the same craving for sweets, but it can happen, so it's important to find ways to keep your favorite treats away from your cat. For example, keeping your chocolate in cabinets and behind closed doors can help prevent your cat from getting into toxic food. Additionally, cat-proof containers for your cabinets and closets can ensure even the craftiest cats can't get any chocolate.

When using chocolate for baking or eating it, never leave it unattended.1 Instead, keep your chocolate close to you to prevent your cat from being able to eat it. When you're done eating the chocolate, always put it away immediately.

It's also important to ensure family and friends that may eat in your home don't accidentally leave any chocolate lying around. If you allow eating outside the kitchen, ensure your guests know not to leave their chocolate unattended or open. If they have to store their chocolate, show them where to find the cat-proofed containers.

Additionally, guests might try to share their snacks with your pet. While it's best to have a general rule that your guest should never share their food with your cat, they may sometimes ask, "can cats have chocolate?" If they do, you now know to tell them not to give your cat (or any cat) chocolate.

Can Cats Have Chocolate: Frequently Asked Questions

How much chocolate is toxic for a cat?

Even small amounts of chocolate can be toxic to cats, but it ultimately depends on the type of chocolate and your cat's weight. So while a tiny lick of a chocolate bar might not cause chocolate toxicity in your cat, it's best not to risk your cat's health.

Additionally, any type of chocolate can be toxic for a cat, no matter what form it's in. So whether it's a white chocolate truffle or a cocoa powder, it can be toxic to a cat. Since any amount of chocolate can be toxic to cats, it's best to keep all sweets out of their reach. If your cat always seems to get into your cabinets, you can invest in cheap cat-proof containers.

What if my cat ate a brownie?

If your cat ate a brownie, they should be taken to an emergency vet clinic as soon as possible for treatment, no matter how much they ate. So whether your cat simply took a tiny bite or ate the entire brownie, they need treatment to ensure they won't experience severe toxicity symptoms, such as seizures and tremors.

The earlier you take your cat to the vet for treatment, the better their outcome will be; never wait to see if your cat starts exhibiting symptoms of illness to get them treatment for chocolate poisoning.

Can cats have chocolate milk?

Cats should never consume any chocolate products. However, chocolate milk can be dangerous for cats in other ways. Most cats are lactose intolerant, so chocolate milk could be dangerous and lethal for cats. Additionally, chocolate milk typically contains sugar which is bad for cats.

What happens if a cat eats chocolate?

If a cat eats chocolate, they can become ill, and symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Some cats might experience GI problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, but depending on the amount of chocolate they've consumed, it could potentially be fatal. If your cat consumes chocolate, they should be taken to a vet immediately to receive treatment and remove the toxic agents from their body before they can do lasting damage or result in coma and death.

Final Notes

Chocolate is a dangerous snack to share with your cat. Cats' diets do not require chocolate, so there's no reason to give your cat sweets. Even in small doses, chocolate can result in discomfort and symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Cats should never consume anything made from cocoa or chocolate, including cookies, sweets, chocolate bars, candy, and even chocolate milk. If your cat accidentally consumes chocolate, contact your vet immediately. Chocolate consumption can have fatal consequences for your pet, so if you think your cat may have eaten any amount of chocolate, they will need emergency medical care.

Chocolate isn't necessary for cats, so you should never share your sweets with them. Instead, consider feeding your cat a balanced diet and giving them healthy treats. If you want to share your snacks with your pet, only give them healthy snacks that are safe for cats. If you're not sure what to feed your cat, consult a Dutch vet for guidance. A Dutch vet can help you learn what foods are safe for pets and which are dangerous while providing guidance on the right diet for your cat to improve their health and quality of life.

References

  1. Jamie Lovejoy, DVM. "Can Cats Eat Chocolate?" PetMD, PetMD, 1 June 2020, https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/digestive/c_ct_chocolate_toxicity.

  2. "Common Human Snack Toxicities in Pets." ASPCApro, https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/common-human-snack-toxicities-pets.