It is well known that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but what about cats? There are a lot of human foods that will harm our cats, and that includes chocolate. Our Medford vets discuss chocolate toxicity in cats.
Chocolate is a delicious treat for humans but the same cannot be said for our pets. Although most pet parents know that dogs can not have chocolate, it's less commonly known that cats can't have any either. There are several foods that humans enjoy that can be poisonous to cats! Today, our Medford veterinary team tells us more about some foods that you should avoid feeding your cat, and what to do if they experience chocolate toxicity.
Can My Cat Eat Chocolate?
The short answer is no! Chocolate contains caffeine and an ingredient called theobromine, both of which are dangerous to cats; in large enough amounts, it can be fatal. These compounds are stimulants, and when absorbed in a cat's body, it becomes highly toxic. Dark and barker's quality chocolate tends to be more toxic to cats because of higher levels of cocoa (and thereby more of the toxic compounds).
What About Chocolate-Flavored Foods?
All of the different forms of chocolate are harmful to our cat's health, including cocoa powder, milk chocolate, and even white chocolate (which has a low amount of cocoa). Foods like ice cream or icing can be 'chocolate flavored,' leading some cat caretakers to wonder if this is suitable for their pet. Although your cat may not experience fatal effects from some chocolate ice cream, they will feel quite sick for a few hours – the toxicity of cocoa, mixed with sugar and lactose from the dairy, 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)
- Lack of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Fast breathing or panting (this is not usual in cats, who don't pant to cool themselves as dogs do)
- Tremors, shaking
- Signs of restlessness
Other Foods That Are Toxic To Cats
Even if you make sure to keep the KitKats away from the kitty, there are some other foods that you might be surprised to learn are also a no-go for your cat. Some of these foods include:
- Grapes, raisins
- Garlic, onions, leeks
- Uncooked eggs, raw meat/bones, raw dough
- Cow's milk (many cats are lactose intolerant!)
- Uncooked potatoes, tomatoes
Diagnosing & Treating Food Toxicity In Cats
If your cat happens to eat chocolate, everyone needs to remain calm. Cats can be incredibly intuitive and will feed off your emotions. Keeping a level head will help them remain calm and potentially prevent symptoms of chocolate poisoning from worsening.
When you get to the veterinary office, your cat's vet will complete a physical assessment of your cat and will ask for any information about what they've consumed (type and estimated amount of chocolate). Depending on the case, your vet might induce vomiting to help prevent your cat's body from absorbing toxins. Your cat will also be provided with fluids and any additional procedures or medications that your vet recommends.
Preventing Chocolate Poisoning In Cats
It should come as no surprise that keeping chocolate locked away is the easiest way to prevent your cat from eating something harmful. Keep in mind that this includes things that are easy to miss, like a chocolate-glazed donut left on the counter, or bowls of unattended candy at Halloween. Cats are curious, playful, and unpredictable.
Healthy Treats For Your Cat
Although it's never good to give your cat too much 'human' food (which often has too much salt and fat for our pets to safely process), there are a few appropriate snacks that you can share with them now and then:
- 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, there are several tasty treats that you can offer 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.