Chocolate is a delicious treat to enjoy after a good meal. Unfortunately, if we can eat it freely without consequences (except maybe for our waist!), it is not so for our pets. But while it’s generally well known to be toxic to dogs and birds, you might be wondering if your feline can eat a little bit of it without getting sick? The answer, however, is unequivocal: chocolate for cats is an absolute no-no. Let’s see the exact reason, the potential symptoms after ingestion, and what to do if you catch your kitty munching on your chocolate candy bar.
Why Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
Chocolate is toxic to cats because of the molecule called theobromine, which is found in cocoa. Indeed, cocoa is very rich in this molecule, which belongs to the family of alkaloids close to caffeine. Thus, since dark chocolate contains a greater concentration of cocoa, it is therefore particularly dangerous for our four-legged companions because theobromine and caffeine are present in more significant quantities. Also, since there is little cocoa in milk chocolate and no trace in white chocolate, people might wrongly think that these can be offered in small quantities to their cats. It’s wrong! Due to their small size, cats can suffer from potentially serious problems after ingesting chocolate, regardless of the color or size of the piece. You should, therefore, absolutely avoid giving in to the whims of your furry companion, even if he looks at you with big pitiful eyes (which is usually the secret weapon of dogs, although some cats can also resort to surprising tactics).
What Are the Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Your Cat?
The clinical signs are not necessarily immediate. They can appear a few hours after ingestion, and their course can last up to three days in severe cases.
Clinical effects may vary depending on the animal, its general health, and especially the amount of chocolate ingested.
What Should You Do if Your Cat Has Eaten Chocolate?
If you suspect that your cat has eaten chocolate, the first thing to do is to contact your veterinarian immediately. Write down the time he ate it, assess the amount consumed, the list of symptoms you noticed, and the exact name of the product. Some people may try to make their cat vomit in these cases—don’t do that! It is dangerous and can lead to severe ulcers. You must wait for clear instructions from your vet, who will undoubtedly recommend that you get to the clinic as soon as possible.
What Will Your Vet Do To Help Your Cat?
First, the vet will try to remove as much of the chocolate as possible from the cat’s stomach. They can do this by inducing vomiting, although it is usually quite tricky to induce cats to vomit. But, as mentioned above, don’t try to induce your pet to vomit yourself. If it is not possible to induce the cat to vomit, the vet may decide to give it activated charcoal or give it a stomach wash. Either way, the less theobromine your cat has absorbed, the less likely she is to suffer from serious side effects.
Medicines and Hospitalization
Your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization in more severe cases. He will then give him medication that is appropriate for the symptoms, such as antiepileptics or other medicines to support the heart and blood pressure.
If the treatment is done in time, the cat with chocolate poisoning will likely recover without any after-effects. Nonetheless, prevention is much more effective than treating clinical symptoms, which is why you should make sure to keep any pieces of chocolate out of the reach of your feline companions. Also, be vigilant when cooking your delicious brownies and leaving crumbs all over your counter; cats are known to pounce everywhere without warning!
Featured Image Credit: Alexander Stein, Pixabay