Can Cats Eat Chocolate? What To Do if Your Cat Eats Chocolate

cat sitting on kitchen floor looking up at human.

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Chocolate can be found throughout a pet parent’s home, including candy, baked goods baking chocolate, and chocolate drinks. Dietary supplements can also contain chocolate to aid in palatability.

With so many possibilities for chocolate in the home, our cats can sometimes make their way into some chocolate goodies.

Learn what to do if your cat accidentally ingests chocolate, including immediate next steps.

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

Chocolate contains two compounds—theobromine and caffeine—both of which are toxic to cats. Chocolate contains a higher amount of theobromine than caffeine. Theobromine poisoning is the primary concern at lower doses of chocolate ingestion, while both theobromine and caffeine poisoning can occur at higher doses.

Theobromine and caffeine poisoning target several major organ systems within a cat, including the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and central nervous systems.

Mild signs of chocolate poisoning in cats from theobromine are usually seen within a few hours, although the full extent of more severe signs may not appear until 12 hours after ingestion.

The caffeine in chocolate is usually absorbed within one hour, and at high enough doses can cause clinical signs to start within one to two hours.

Mild chocolate poisoning results in gastrointestinal symptoms and possible hyperactivity, while moderate chocolate poisoning in cats results in overstimulation of the cardiovascular system.

The type and severity of symptoms your cat may develop depends on the amount and type of chocolate that is ingested.

Severe poisoning in cats can cause overstimulation of the nervous system. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning can last from 24 to 96 hours depending on their severity.

Cats with pre-existing medical conditions may be at a higher risk for theobromine and caffeine poisoning. If your cat also ingests a chocolate wrapper, there’s a risk for foreign body obstruction.

Symptoms of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats

The type and severity of symptoms your cat may develop depends on the amount and type of chocolate that is ingested.

Cocoa powder and baker’s chocolate contain a much higher amount of theobromine, whereas milk chocolate and white chocolate contain a much lower amount, so the symptoms that may appear will likely differ even if the same amount is ingested.

Common symptoms a cat may experience after consuming chocolate include:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Hyperactivity or agitation

  • Increased drinking and urination

  • High heart rate

  • Abnormal heart rhythm

  • Difficulty walking

  • Tremors

  • Seizures

What To Do if Your Cat Ate Chocolate

Call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline, a 24/7 animal poison control center, at 855-764-7661, as soon as you realize your cat has consumed chocolate.

Since there is no safe way to induce vomiting in cats at home, do not attempt this—just seek veterinary care immediately. If possible, bring any relevant packaging with you to the clinic.

As with all poisoning cases, early intervention is key to successful treatment. No matter how much chocolate your cat ate, even if a small amount, it’s better to be safe.

Treatment of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats

Depending on when your cat ingested the chocolate and the health of your pet, your veterinarian may try to induce vomiting to help remove the toxin from your cat’s system before it is absorbed.

The vet may also give activated charcoal to minimize absorption of any remaining toxin from the gastrointestinal tract.

Additional care includes fluid support and medications to treat your cat’s symptoms, such as sedation for agitation, as well as medication to manage any heart rate and rhythm abnormalities. If your cat develops symptoms, home treatment is often ineffective and veterinary care is needed.

To ensure your cat gets the proper treatment and observation they need, be prepared to have your cat stay in the hospital through the day, if it’s a mild case, and possibly for a few days in severe cases.

The good news is that with early treatment and effective management of symptoms, the prognosis for chocolate poisoning in cats is usually favorable, with no negative long-term effects.

Prevention of Chocolate Poisoning in Cats

Because chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs, all sources of chocolate and their packaging should be kept in closed cabinets or the refrigerator if there are any pets in the home. You can also add pet locks to your cabinets if your cat has a knack for opening pantry doors.

Cats are especially adept at jumping high on top of furniture, so placing chocolate candy, baked goods, or other human favorites on countertops is generally not enough to keep kitties safe.

Always be sure to keep chocolate away from pets during major holiday seasons when it is abundant in the home, such as at Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. Wrapping up chocolate as presents and placing them under the Christmas or Yule tree is a bad idea if there are pets at home, as is leaving out Easter baskets.

Cats can easily rip and shred wrapping paper and ribbons to get to the chocolate, and ingestion of wrapping paper, ribbons, or Easter basket grass can present additional risks to your cat for a foreign body obstruction.

Making your home a chocolate-safe environment and taking swift action in case of ingestion are crucial steps to safeguard your cat’s well-being. Staying vigilant and keeping those sweet treats safely out of reach will help minimize the potential for pet poisoning.

Pet Poison Helpline Veterinarian Team


Pet Poison Helpline Veterinarian Team


Pet Poison Helpline®, your trusted source for toxicology and pet health advice in times of potential emergency, is available 24 hours,...

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