Can cats eat Chocolate?
"Where's the harm? My cat seems to enjoy chocolate and it's only a small piece."
Just because certain foods, such as chocolate, are enjoyed by humans and are perfectly safe for us, it does not mean they are suitable for cats.
Chocolate contains chemicals which rarely cause problems for humans, but for cats and other domestic pets, these chemicals can, in rare cases, be deadly.
Although cats do not have a sweet tooth (they can’t taste sweetness,) some cats will eat almost anything so can be tempted with chocolate.
It is important not to offer it to them, even the smallest piece; otherwise they may eat what you give them up to the point where it causes them harm.
To be quite safe, keep chocolate in all its forms safely out of the reach of your cat.
Chocolate contains the compound theobromine which is a diuretic as well as a cardiac stimulant.
This can cause the pet's heart rate to increase or it may cause the heart to beat irregularly, both of which can be dangerous for the animal.
The level of theobromine present in chocolate varies depending on the type.
For example un-sweetened baking chocolate contains the highest amount, dark chocolate contains higher levels than milk chocolate.
The higher the concentration of theobromine the greater the risk to your pet. Approximately one ounce of chocolate per pound of body weight could prove lethal for cats and other pets.
Cats, and other animals, cannot clear theobromine from their bodies as quickly as people can.
Many cat owners would simply expect their pet to develop an upset stomach after eating a large amount of chocolate, few realize its toxic potential.
There are many other problems that can result from feeding a cat chocolate. Chocolate is relatively high in calories so it can contribute to the development of obesity in your cat.
A cat can lose its appetite for it's normal food if it eats this sweet human food, and the long term effect would be detrimental to your pet's teeth.
Treatment for chocolate poisoning in its advanced stage can be very unpleasant for both the cat and the owner of the cat, so it is much wiser to be safe and not to allow your cat to consume foods which contain chocolate.
If you do have worries that your cat has consumed anything other than the smallest amount of chocolate inform your vet - pronto.
Spotting the symptoms early on can be very beneficial and can give your cat a much better chance of surviving any poisoning which may have occurred.
Cats should not be fed food meant for human consumption, as a treat or in the form of table scraps.
Apart from chocolate, food that is safe for humans but not pets includes - Onions and Garlic, they contain a substance which could destroy a cat's red blood cells.
Raisins and Grapes, can cause kidney damage in extreme cases. Tomatoes and Raw Potato, can cause stomach problems.
If you must feed your cat chocolate as a treat (but why not reward kitty with a healthier tidbit?), there are alternate "chocolate" treats for cats which are produced by some pet food manufacturers.
They will either use a vegetable substitute made to taste and look like chocolate, or they will take out the theobromine, or use greatly reduced, safe levels, in the chocolate treats they produce.
While a very small amount of chocolate may not be harmful to some cats, it is always safest to avoid giving any to them at all.
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