My Cat Ate Chocolate – What Now? (Solved & Explained!)

You’ve probably hears that dogs and cats cannot have chocolate, but you might not know just how toxic is really is. If your cat ate chocolate, it’s definitely more serious than you might think and we’ll tell you why.

Chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine, along with a fair amount of caffeine that’s not going to help your cat with the toxins that they’ve just ingested. Baking varieties are common in homes and one of the worst for your cat, as this kind of chocolate is dangerously toxic in amounts less than ¼ of an ounce!

Today we’ll take a closer look at important information about chocolate, such as the toxic ingredients, signs of toxicity, dangerous amounts based on different chocolates, and more. While it’s delicious for us, chocolate is very bad for your cat, so let’s discuss what you need to know about chocolate and your cat.

Why is chocolate so toxic for cats?

Chocolate isn’t very good for cats to begin with. It’s got cocoa butter, for one thing, along with milk and even a bit of caffeine in the bargain. While these are all bad for your kitty (with caffeine being the worst of those three), the real thing that you have to worry about is a chemical called Theobromine.

Theobromine is present in green coffee beans and some teas, but it is largely found in chocolate products, both foods and beverages. While it’s harmless for us to ingest, it doesn’t take very much to make your cat very ill.

If enough of it is consumed, it can even be fatal, so chocolate is definitely off the menu for your cat and you should also not leave it unattended when your kitty is nearby.

Are all kinds of chocolate toxic?

Different types of chocolate and chocolate products are going to have different amounts of Theobromine – it’s mostly going to depend on the cocoa content and overall purity as far as the chocolate content is concerned.

The most dangerous common variety is baking chocolate, as it is quite a bit purer than many of the other chocolates out there. Next, we have your semi-sweet and dark chocolate, and while many of us enjoy a nice dark chocolate, the semi-sweet are more likely to be in the house in the form of chocolate chips for baking.

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Those are already in small bits that a cat will spot in a heartbeat, bat around, and possibly gobble up. It’s easy to miss, so you’ll want to keep a sharp eye on those chocolate chips if you have them.

Milk chocolate isn’t as toxic, but Theobromine is definitely still there. Milk chocolate has very little cocoa content, so the Theobromine amount won’t be as high as the previously mentioned kinds. Finally, the least toxic is White chocolate (with the exception of varieties that actually include cocoa chunks).

While marketed as chocolate, white chocolate doesn’t usually have any cocoa, but is simply a mix of cocoa butter, sugar, and some vanilla, but even this has small amounts of Theobromine so your cat should not be eating it.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

When your cat has eaten some chocolate, signs of toxicity will generally show up within 4 hours (although you should watch your cat for at least 24 to be sure). Depending on the amount ingested, the symptoms may be minor or relatively severe and may include the following:

  • Panting/labored breathing
  • Hyperactivity (don’t forget the caffeine in the chocolate)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid heartbeat

If the amount ingested is high enough, then cardiac arrest, seizures, or even a coma may follow as a reaction to the Theobromine in their bloodstream.

As such, if your cat has ingested chocolate or you even suspect it, the best thing to do is to get the vet involved right away before the symptoms have a chance to manifest. It’s always best to err on the safe side where your kitty is concerned.

How much chocolate is potentially fatal for cats?

While you should contact the vet if ANY ingestion occurs, we can certainly give you the amounts which are considered to be dangerous based on the type of chocolate ingested.

Just note that these amounts are based on an average, healthy adult cat of approximately 8 pounds body weight – for kittens or senior kitties you should assume the toxic amounts to be considerably lower:

  • Baking chocolate – The worst of the bunch, just .2 ounces of this kind of chocolate is considered to be a highly toxic dose for your cat.
  • Semi-sweet or Dark Chocolate – Less pure than baking chocolate, it still only takes small amounts of semi-sweet or dark chocolate to be considered toxic – just .5 ounces, in fact!
  • Milk chocolate – Milk chocolate still has Theobromine, but as the cocoa content is generally less than 40%, it takes about 1.14 ounces of milk chocolate ingestion before reaching dangerous levels of toxicity.
  • White chocolate – White chocolate really isn’t chocolate, when you get down to it. Some kinds won’t even have caffeine, but there are varieties with cocoa chunks out there and even without them, white chocolate is basically a lot of cocoa butter and sugar, along with small amounts of Theobromine still being present. Certainly not fatal, but your cat could get very sick.

What should I do if my cat ate chocolate?

If you don’t have this number on your refrigerator already, then you should write it down on a piece of paper and stick it on there with a magnet. The ASPCA Poison Control line is toll-free at (888)426-4435 and if you put it where you can always find it, then it might save your cat’s life one day.

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This will give you a number to call while you are arranging to get your cat to the vet. When it comes to chocolate, the best option really is to simply put your kitty in their crate and get them to the vet as soon as you can.

Since it takes such small amounts of chocolate to harm your cat, it’s not something that you want to wait on, but if you cannot get your cat to the vet right away then the ASPCA should be able to help.

We hope that you’ll never have to use the number, but making sure that it’s somewhere you can find it easily can help if an emergency ever arises.

In closing

While white chocolate will likely just lead to a sore tummy and possibly diarrhea, that’s only because it’s not really chocolate, so where your kitty is concerned you want to start viewing Cacao for what it is to them – it’s poison.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have any, of course, only that you want to make sure that it’s not left unattended and if your cat gets a hold of some, then be sure to call the ASPCA poison line and get your cat to the vet as quickly as possible for treatment before the symptoms can get any worse.

It’s the best and the safest option for your feline friend!