Chocolate Toxicity in Cats
Cats, and especially kittens, are known for eating things they are not supposed to. This can be a dangerous combination when there is chocolate around. Also, cats have an excellent sense of smell, making it fairly easy for them to find secret hiding spots for the chocolate.
Chocolate is derived from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao, which contains certain properties that can be toxic to cats: caffeine and theobromine. When ingested, these two ingredients can lead to various medical complications and may even prove fatal for your cat.
Symptoms and Types
- Increased body temperature
- Increased reflex responses
- Muscle rigidity
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)
The amount and type of chocolate ingested is also important, as they are determining factors for the severity of the toxicity. The three types of chocolate that you must be aware of are:
- Milk Chocolate
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate
- Baking Chocolate
Chocolate can become toxic for any cat. So be wary of feeding your cat anything that might contain chocolate and always keep it out of reach.
Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, including a chemical blood profile, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis. These tests will help determine if there is a chocolate/caffeine overdose.
Blood can also be taken to test for theobromine concentrations, while an ECG is performed to help determine if the heart is showing any abnormalities in rhythm or conduction of heart beats.
If you suspect or have evidence that your cat has ingested chocolate, you should immediately take your cat to be examined by your veterinarian. Keeping your cat cool, calm, and in a quiet place will help to keep the symptoms from escalating too quickly. It is common to induce vomiting quickly after ingestion to prevent the chemicals in the chocolate from being digested, and to control any seizures, should they occur.
Fluids will be given to keep your cat hydrated as its condition improves. To avoid any further problems, it should be fed a bland diet for several days after the incident, so that the digestive system is not compromised by dietary stress.
Because there is no antidote to chocolate toxicity, it is crucial to your cat’s health that you keep chocolate products out of its reach.