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Can Eating Chocolate Kill a Cat?

Unfortunately, this is not an old wife's tale. Eating chocolate, even in small amounts, can be lethal to your kitten and cat. Chocolate are made from theobroma cacao or cocao tree. The active constituents of theobroma cacao is theobromine. The chemical theobromine in chocolate can affect many animals. Theobromine is a form of alkaloids and is similar in effect to caffeine. It is a naturally occurring stimulant that can also be found in cocoas, colas, tea and other foods. Besides cats, dogs are also unable to metabolize chocolate properly. Hence, they are susceptible to chocolate poisonng.

Theobromine is use for human as a blood vessel vasodilator (to widen the blood vessel as a treatment for high blood pressure), a diuretic and a heart stimulant. Because of these effects, cats upon eating chocolate can suffer from increase in heart rate, arrhythmia, stomach ulcer and dehydration.

Cats may not display any symptoms of chocolate poisoning until after 36 hours. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning in cats are

  • sudden hyperactivity
  • nervousness and excitability
  • panting and labored breathing or difficulty in breathing
  • vomitting
  • diarrhea

In the later stages of severe poisoning, convulsions, seizures, coma and death will occur. It should be noted that different chocolate have different amount of theobromine. For example, baking chocolate contains ten times the amount of theobromine as compared to milk chocolate. Dark chocolate generally contains high level than light chocolate (approximately 10 g/kg as conpared to 1-5 g/kg). The following amounts of chocolate can produce toxicity in a seven pound cat:

  • 4 2/3 ounce of milk chocolate
  • 1 1/3 ounce of semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • Half ounce of baking chocolate

Contact your vet if you believe your pet cat has ingested any chocolate. There is no antidote for chocolate poisoning in cats. If detected early, induced vomitting will be attempted. In severe cases, your vet will provide life support to sustain your cat while the theobromine is metabolized. As can be seen, it is important to keep chocolate away from your pet cat. Fortunately, most cats do not have a sweet tooth and would not eat chocolate as they are unable to taste sweetness.

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