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).
Is Chocolate Bad for Cats?
Yes, chocolate is not only bad but toxic to cats. It’s just as bad for cats as it is for dogs, if not worse. So, what makes it so dangerous?
Chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine and larger amounts of a related compound, theobromine. These compounds, known as methylxanthines, make chocolate a satisfying treat for people, but dangerous for dogs and cats.
Both of these compounds can cause signs of chocolate toxicity in cats. In general, the more cocoa there is in a piece of chocolate, the higher the concentration of caffeine and theobromine.
Darker chocolates and baking chocolates are the most dangerous, even in small amounts. That said, even white chocolate can potentially cause issues in cats due to its small size.
Chocolate candies and treats can also contain xylitol, a sweetener that may also be harmful to cats. Obviously, the sugar and fat found in chocolate aren’t good for cats either, but they are not toxic.
If your cat eats any type of chocolate, you should take it seriously.
What about artificial sweeteners?
As society realizes the harm that too much sugar can have on humans, more products are including artificial sweeteners, specifically Xylitol, to add sweetness without the calories. Great news if you’re concerned about your weight. Potentially catastrophic news for your pets.
As a pet owner, it’s vital that you check all food labels before sharing any food with your cat. Xylitol, specifically, is known for being extremely toxic to dogs and potentially harmful to cats too.
While the evidence is still sketchy as to whether cats are affected as badly as dogs, it’s simply not worth risking it as the effects in dogs are rapid and often fatal. Other sweeteners like stevia, aspartame, and erythritol are reportedly safe for animal consumption but can result in some digestive issues.
We’d recommend that anything with ‘sugar-free’ on the label should be treated as potentially harmful to your pet just to be safe.
How much chocolate is toxic to cats?
Unfortunately, your pet does not have to eat a massive quantity of chocolate to experience adverse effects.
This means that you should work diligently to ensure that your cat is unable to get their paws on any amount. Even a small amount of chocolate can cause severe problems.
The reason that chocolate is not safe for pets is that it contains two key dangerous ingredients: theobromine and caffeine.
Theobromine and caffeine are two chemicals that are referred to as methylated xanthine alkaloids. They can be extremely detrimental to a pet since these chemicals will stimulate their sympathetic nervous system.
This ultimately results in cats’ bodies releasing epinephrine or adrenaline. When your pet has a toxic dose of methylxanthines, it can result in an overstimulation of their sympathetic nervous system.
This could cause your cat to breathe more quickly, experience a drastic boost in heart rate and blood pressure, or become overheated or restless. In severe cases, this can result in an abnormal heartbeat.
Treatment of Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
If your cat is at risk for chocolate poisoning, then your veterinarian may induce vomiting to empty their stomach content. This is not something you can safely do at home.
Once at your veterinarian’s clinic, your cat may need fluid therapy to stay hydrated along with blood or urine tests. An ECG may also be performed to look for abnormal rhythms of the heart.
Vets will treat your cat’s signs as needed, and your kitty will probably eat a bland diet for the next few days. Death is possible if your cat eats too much theobromine and doesn’t get treatment quickly enough.