People that eat a small piece of chocolate daily have a smaller risk of stroke, but what about cats? Is chocolate healthy for cats? or is actually the opposite and can cause serious health issues to these lovely felines?
Cats and dogs have a different body than us, so a food that is good and healthy for us in small quantities, could be pretty harmful for them.
Unlike dogs (which are omnivores), cats are 100% carnivores, which means that even if you eat chocolate in front of your cat, and you give her a piece of chocolate, after smelling it, your cat will just leave without eating it.
Chocolate is not meat, so a cat will be less interested to eat it (and this is definitely for its benefit).
Is Chocolate Beneficial for Cats?
All the chocolate sold today in stores (dark, milk and white chocolate) is made using a powder from the seeds of a famous plant native to Central and South America and called Theobroma Cacao (cacao tree).
The fruit of this plant is known as cacao (cocoa) and to produce chocolate, we are using the powder obtained from the dried fermented seeds of the tree.
Chocolate contains this way cocoa, milk, sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, cocoa liquor, vanilla and lecithin.
For humans, dark chocolate is considered the healthiest because it contains the least amount of added ingredients, milk chocolate contains a smaller amount of cocoa liquor, and white chocolate is less healthy because it contains the largest amount of flavorings.
Chocolate is made from cacao (cocoa), which is a plant containing high levels of minerals and antioxidants, such as iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), and zinc (Zn).
There are also a few chemicals inside the chocolate such as:
1. Theobromine (xantheose)
Theobromine also known as xantheose, is an alkaloid that is naturally metabolized in the human body, but is toxic for cats and dogs.
Anandamide is naturally produced in the brain in small quantities and is also contained in chocolate.
3. Phenylethylamine (PEA)
Phenylethylamine is a chemical stimulating the pleasure center of the brain.
Eating chocolate too often, can make you feel like you’re falling in love with someone or something.
Theobromine is very similar to caffeine and creates more alertness and sharpness of mind.
Theobromine also acts like a vasodilator, because is a chemical substance that causes blood vessels to relax, and this way, blood will move more freely.
This helps the brain and the heart to work properly.
Theobromine also has a few downsides because it can be a powerful diuretic, and if consumed in large amounts, it can cause an effect similar to caffeine overdose like anxiety, headaches and nausea.
Chocolate becomes this way very toxic for cats (and dogs) and not like a poison, if affects cats because it takes much longer to metabolize Theobromine.
Because it requires a longer period of time to be metabolized in the body of the cat, it can linger and accumulate in its system for a day or even longer, causing an overdose that produces vomiting, diarrhea, maybe seizures and in some cases even organ failure (can affect the heart, kidneys and the central nervous system).
The darker the chocolate the more theobromine contains.
Luckily, cats have no interest in eating chocolate, so they get affected by theobromine (also found in tea and kola nuts) less often.
Never give your cat a cup of milk containing cocoa, because if she drinks that delicious milk, will have a similar effect like eating chocolate (will make her feel awful).
Chocolate can also contain small quantities of caffeine, which is also considered toxic for cats.
A cat that ate chocolate containing caffeine, or drank milk containing even a small amount of coffee, may have an increased heart rate and can become hyperactive after only a couple of minutes after ingesting caffeine.
If caffeine can boost energy levels in people, cats will not benefit from it.
Another effect of caffeine in cats is increased blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia, which can be dangerous for your feline.
Cats are way more sensitive to caffeine than people. Caffeine containing products may also include other ingredients such as sugars, which can lead to an inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is a serious medical condition that can be fatal for cats.
Exactly like in the case of theobromine, drinking or eating even small amounts of caffeine on a regular basis can damage major organs like the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, and the central nervous system of your cat.
Symptoms can occur after ingesting only 9 mg/pound of caffeine.
28 grams of dark chocolate can contain up to 390 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of a cat of 43 pounds).
An average cat weighs about 10 pounds (there are also 5 pound cats), which means that eating more than 6 grams of dark chocolate (84 milligrams of caffeine) will definitely affect your feline.
Chocolate Poisoning in Cats – Symptoms
If you believe that your cat has eaten chocolate, watch out for any of the following symptoms:
If you notice that your previously relaxed cat is now behaving restlessly, it could be a sign that your cat is in estrus or is ill due to the fact that ate something toxic like chocolate.
If your cat starts vomiting something that look and smell like chocolate or cocoa-related products, be sure that she ate a good amount of chocolate.
Diarrhea is another sign that your cat ate something unhealthy for her, and if she can’t vomit the toxic food, her body will show the signs of the toxicity by producing an extremely bad smelling diarrhea.
4. Increased Rate Of Breathing
An increased rate of breathing shows the fact that the cat ate chocolate or a product containing caffeine.
The increased heart rate can lead to arrhythmia and even death in some cases.
5. Seizures Or Muscle Rigidity
The presence of seizures or muscle rigidity can show a severe intoxication with chocolate, caffeine-based products or other substance toxic for them.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, contact your vet as soon as possible!
Can Cats Eat Chocolate? the short answer is No!
Chocolate contains substances that are good for people, but toxic for cats, so never give chocolate to your cat.