My Cat Ate Chocolate Ice Cream: Should I Worry? (Solved & Explained!)

Cats love ice cream, but we all know that chocolate is definitely supposed to be off the menu. So, what happens if your cat ate chocolate ice cream when you weren’t looking?

While we don’t recommend giving your cat chocolate ice cream, unless actual chunks of chocolate are present then the amount which is in the ice cream itself is most likely going to just give them a bad bellyache. Diarrhea or vomiting are possible if they have ingested a lot, but in small amounts it is only considered mildly toxic.

While ‘mildly toxic’ doesn’t sound so bad, chocolate ingestion isn’t something that you want to take lightly with when it comes to your cat. Don’t worry – we’ll elaborate – so read on for important information about chocolate ice cream and your cat!

Why is chocolate ice cream so toxic for cats?

Ice cream on its own, of any flavor, isn’t really good for cats. The dairy content, for instance, is bad from the start, since most cats are lactose intolerant. Add in the high levels of fat and sugar and you’ve got a recipe for a tummyache, even before the chocolate.

The chocolate itself, however, is the really bad part. Chocolate has caffeine, which is a no-no for kitties, but it also has a chemical called Theobromine. Theobromine is produced during the process of roasting the cacao beans and while humans can digest it, the stuff id poison for cats.

Even in very small amounts, the toxins end up in the stomach, but later get reabsorbed into the intestines, so that vet assistance may be required to safely filter the toxins. With chocolate ice cream, thankfully, the amounts of actual chocolate are minimal in most cases, unless it includes chocolate chunks.

Without the chunks, however, the amounts of theobromine present from the choclate flavoring will usually just be enough to cause a bad bellyache that can last for a few hours, although diarrhea and vomiting are also possible. If you see these symptoms, then a trip to the vet can help get your kitty better much faster.

Will a tiny bit of chocolate hurt my cat?

Chocolate ice cream aside, as far as standard chocolate, it only takes a little to become dangerously toxic for your cat. Baking chocolate, for instance, is one of the worst culprits, with only .2 ounces being required to make an 8-pound cat dangerously ill.

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Semi-sweet and dark chocolates are the next in line, and sometimes you’ll find ice creams with these chocolates added in small pieces or chunks, and just .5 ounces of these kinds of chocolates are enough to be considered highly toxic for your cat.

Milk chocolate is toxic in amounts of around 1.1 ounces for an 8-pound cat, which is certainly a higher amount, but it is still quite dangerous. White chocolate is the least toxic, as it doesn’t contain any actual caocao unless the chunks have real chocolate mixed in.

Without added chocolate, it only has trace amounts of Theobromine, but it’s still not considered suitable for kitty consumption – any Theobromine is too much when it comes to your little one’s health.

How long does it take for chocolate to harm a cat?

Typically, chocolate toxicity is going to show up within the first 4 hours, but you should watch your cat for at least 24 hours to be sure. As Theobromine tends to get reabsorbed into the body once it reaches the intestines, it takes many cycles before it is effectively ‘blunted’ as a toxin.

Symptoms of chocolate toxicity may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased thirst
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle twitches or tremors

In high enough amounts, ingested chocolate can lead to a coma and become ultimately fatal, so if your cat ingests chocolate chunks from ice cream then you should get them to the vet immediately or contact the ASPCA poison control line at 888-426-4435 if you cannot visit the vet right away.

The ASPCA poison control line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and even on holidays, so keep this number handy somewhere that you can find it in an emergency.

How do vets treat chocolate poisoning in cats?

In most cases of chocolate toxicity, your vet will begin by providing the support of fluids administered intravenously for your cat and they might give your cat charcoal to bond with the toxins in their stomach so that they might be safely passed. Vomiting may also be induced; it really depends on the amount and type of chocolate which your cat has eaten.

As the amounts required to qualify chocolate as a genuine poison for cats is very small, it is recommended that you get the vet involved immediately if you even suspect that your cat has eaten some chocolate chunks from ice cream.

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Regular chocolate ice cream with no added chocolate, while not considered safe, is more likely to cause diarrhea and possibly vomiting than some of the more dangerous symptoms, but a vet can still help to reduce the time that your pet suffers for eating the chocolatey ‘treat’.

Is carob ice cream safe for cats?

Carob is a chocolate alternative that contains no Theobromine and you can make a homemade ice cream out of it, if you have one of those stubborn cats that will chase your chocolate ice cream, even when they know it makes them sick.

Just be sure to make it yourself or to check the ingredients if purchased commercially. While carob is safe as a chocolate substitute, you want to make sure that no artificial sweeteners such as toxic Xylitol are present before allowing your cat to share a spoonful.

Some final words on chocolate ice cream and kitties

While a little chocolate ice cream is likely just to make your cat bloated and a bit nauseous, it’s best to avoid leaving chocolate of any kind unsupervised when your kitty is around.

While it’s fine for us to eat, cats simply cannot process Theobromine, to the point that a vet may be required to save your cat’s life if they eat enough.

In a pinch, you can use carob to make a chocolate substitute that is  safe for kitties, if your cat has developed a kind of obsession with chocolate (it happens), but just be sure to moderate ingestion of this variety as well – it’s still ice cream, after all, and cats simply aren’t designed to eat it!