Virtually every dog owner, and even many of the non-dog owning population as well knows that chocolate should not be given to dogs as it is toxic to them, and likely to lead to minor digestive upsets if only a small amount of chocolate is digested, going as far as potentially proving fatal if your dog eats a lot of chocolate or other cocoa-based products.
However, something that is less well known and less frequently talked about in pet owning circles is the fact that chocolate is also toxic to cats, and should not be fed to them either.
While cats are less likely to get a taste for chocolate than dogs are, cats can and sometimes do try to eat chocolate or cocoa products nonetheless, and so, it is a good idea for cat owners to develop a basic understanding of how chocolate and cocoa can pose a risk to the health of cats, and how to avoid this happening. Read on to learn more.
On the surface of it, it may seem largely irrelevant that cats should not eat chocolate, as chocolate is not likely to be something that appeals to cats and that they would potentially try to eat! While it is certainly true that cats are much less likely to be interested in eating chocolate than dogs are, it can still happen, particularly if any of the following factors come into play:
No amount of chocolate should ever be considered as safe or suitable for cats, and you should never offer your cat chocolate treats, scraps, or anything else that has cocoa or chocolate in it. However, if your cat does manage to eat some cocoa or chocolate, potentially by means of the factors listed above, it is how much they eat and how high in cocoa it is that determines the eventual effect it will have on your cat.
The element in cocoa and chocolate that is dangerous to cats is called theobromine, and dark or black chocolate and pure cocoa are the richest sources of this, with milk chocolate containing less, and white chocolate little to none. Theobromine has a toxic effect on the liver of cats, and can lead to liver failure and systemic toxicity.
Therefore, how much cocoa or chocolate will be potentially dangerous to your cat will depend on a combination of how much theobromine was in the product, which depends again on the type and quantity of chocolate or cocoa that they eat, and also, the size of your cat, and their general health.
Cats with an existing liver problem will be at higher risk of toxicity than an otherwise healthy cat, but even a healthy cat can become very ill from eating chocolate.
While no cat is likely to eat a whole chocolate bar, and as a rule, cats who taste chocolate will not be interested in eating it, it can be handy to be able to refer to these basic figures on theobromine amounts in chocolate and toxicity rates:
If your cat does eat chocolate or cocoa, either mistaking it for something else or because they were tempted by milk or cream, you should first of all try to identify how much of it they ate, and find the packaging for the chocolate product to refer to. Contact your vet immediately and give them all of the information they will ask for, which will include things like the size and general health of your cat, how much they ate, and when they ate it.
Follow your vet’s advice when it comes to either taking your cat to the clinic or monitoring them carefully at home, and remember, if your cat is likely to have eaten a lot of chocolate or cocoa, this should be treated as an emergency, and they will need to go to the vets.