It is well known that chocolate is toxic to dogs but is it the same for cats? Our Ankeny vets are here to tell you about the harm that you can do by feeding your cat chocolate and how to keep your cat safe.
For those of us who like chocolate, it can be a delicious treat. Although most pet parents are well aware that dogs shouldn't have chocolate, it's not as well known that our feline friends can't have a little nibble, either. There are several foods that humans enjoy that can be poisonous to cats! Today, our Ankeny 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?
Is chocolate bad for cats? In short: yes! 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. Darker and bakers quality chocolate is more toxic to cats as they have a higher cocoa level which is what is toxic to cats.
What About Chocolate-Flavored Foods?
All types of chocolate can be harmful to your cat's health. This includes 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 not suitable 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 including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Lack of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Signs of restlessness
- Fast breathing or panting (this is not usual in cats, who don't pant to cool themselves as dogs do)
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Tremors, shaking
Other Foods 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
- Cow's milk (many cats are lactose intolerant!)
- Uncooked eggs, raw meat/bones, raw dough
- Uncooked potatoes, tomatoes
Diagnosing & Treating Food Toxicity In Cats
If your cat eats chocolate, remain calm. Cats are sensitive to your emotions, and this will help them remain calm and potentially prevent symptoms of chocolate poisoning from becoming worse.
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 too much of the toxin. Your cat will also be provided with fluids and any additional procedures or medications that your vet recommends.
Preventing Chocolate Poisoning In Cats
Locking away your chocolate treats is the easiest way to protect your cat from eating it. Keep in mind that this includes things that are easy to miss, like a chocolate-glazed donut left on the counter, or a bowl of candy at Halloween.
Healthy Treats That You Can Feed Your Cat
Although it's never good to give your cat too much 'human' food since it often has too much salt and fat for our pets to safely process, there are a few snacks that you can share with them in moderation:
- Ripe banana slices
- Diced, unsalted cooked turkey or chicken without the skin
- Carrots, green beans
- Berries with the stems and leaves removed
- A little bit of low-sodium tuna
- 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.