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Chocolate Poisoning in Cats: What You Need to Know

My Cat Ate Chocolate! What Should I Do?

Cats are curious pets but, unlike dogs, cats don’t tend to eat things that aren’t safe for them to eat. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your cat won’t eat something bad for her. We’ve all seen our furry feline friends chewing on a leaf or two that she shouldn’t have. One food that can be dangerous for a cat is chocolate.

Why Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?

Chocolate is made from the roasted seeds of the cacao plant, and the caffeine and theobromine that it contains is especially toxic to cats.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats

The severity of the symptoms that a cat may experience after eating chocolate will often depend on how much chocolate was ingested, and which type of chocolate was eaten. Of the common types of chocolate found at home, milk chocolate has the lowest potential for toxicity whereas baker’s chocolate carries the highest risk of toxicity due to its high concentration of active ingredient caffeine and theobromine.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Elevated temperature
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Increased reflex response
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Coma

There are also some symptoms that the cat’s owner may not be able to identify, such as low blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat. These symptoms may only be discoverable by a veterinarian.

Chocolate Poisoning Diagnosis and Treatment

If you believe your cat has eaten chocolate, or you notice her exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, then you should take her to the veterinarian immediately.

Your veterinarian may conduct a complete physical exam as well as various lab tests. These may include a urinalysis, an electrolyte panel, a chemical blood profile, and an ECG to see if your cat’s heart is showing any signs of abnormalities.

If your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with chocolate poisoning, she may induce vomiting in order to help prevent the dangerous ingredients in chocolate from causing further damage. Intravenous fluids also can be administered to help keep the cat hydrated, aid in more rapid metabolism and dilute out the toxic ingredients of chocolate.

Once you bring your cat home, you should feed her a bland diet for a few days after receiving treatment; but always be sure to follow your veterinarian’s directions. You also should take the steps necessary to ensure your cat isn’t able to get into the chocolate again. Continue to practice extreme caution giving your cat food that’s meant for humans, as certain foods could contain chocolate without you realizing it.

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.