Chocolate Poisoning In Cats: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

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Chocolate Poisoning In Cats: Why It Happens And What To Do About It

3 May 2016
 Categories: , Blog

While people may love the delicious taste of chocolate, the same can't be said for cats. In fact, chocolate can actually poison cats, and lead to serious health complications. That's why it's important for pet owners like you to understand the dangers of chocolate poisoning, the symptoms involved, and how to quickly treat your cat if they ingest chocolate.  

Why Is Chocolate Poisonous?

Chocolate is filled with numerous chemicals which the human liver is able to process. However, the caffeine and theobromine in chocolate are actually toxic to cats. Unfortunately, cats sometimes ingest substances such as chocolate, and it's up to you to recognize the symptoms and take quick action.

Symptoms of Chocolate Ingestion

Here are the symptoms to look out for though if you suspect your cat has eaten chocolate.

  • Muscle rigidity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Hypothermia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficultly coordinating movement
  • Diarrhea
  • Advanced symptoms include cardiac failure, seizure, and coma

In addition to these symptoms, other symptoms may arise that you may not actually notice, but that your vet will also be looking for. They include increased body temperature, increased heart rate, and low blood pressure.

Of course, the severity of poisoning isn't only related to the amount of chocolate your cat ingests but, also, what kind of chocolate is ingested. For example, dark chocolate and baking chocolate are known to contain higher levels of caffeine and theobromine.

In general, symptoms begin to manifest within a few hours after the initial chocolate ingestion and even lead to death and seizures within 24 hours.


If you believe your cat has ingested any chocolate or is suffering from the above symptoms, then it's time to go to the vet as fast as possible. Your vet will perform a number of tests, including a blood profile, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel to see if they can detect caffeine or other dangerous chemicals in your cat's system.

Your vet can also check your cat's heart rate or for signs of cardiac failure with an ECG.

Treatment Options

Your veterinarian (such as one from Robert Irelan DVM) will likely induce your cat to vomit if there are clear signs of poisoning in order to remove any chocolate still in their stomach. Your vet will also likely run an IV to your cat to deliver needed fluids and keep your cat from becoming dehydrated.  Your cat may need a few days to properly recover and will likely do best on a diet of bland food. 

Unfortunately, in some serious cases, cats may die from chocolate poisoning. Although rare, this fact underlines why you need to act quickly in the event of chocolate poisoning to help save your cat's life.