The amount of chocolate that can kill a cat depends on many factors such as their weight and size, whether they’ve eaten anything else since eating the chocolate, and even if they’re pregnant or nursing.
This blog post discusses how to determine just how much chocolate will be fatal to your cat so you don’t have to worry about accidentally poisoning them.
- What kind of chocolate are we talking about?
- Toxicity levels of chocolate:
- How much chocolate is toxic for cats?
- What should I do if my cat eats a small amount of chocolate?
- Can a lick of chocolate kill a cat?
- Cats with diabetes should not consume chocolate?
- What are the symptoms of a cat eating chocolate?
- What does chocolate do to cats?
- How poisonous is chocolate to cats?
What kind of chocolate are we talking about?
Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and semi-sweet baking chips all these variations make a huge difference in toxicity levels. Most experts agree that any chocolate is potentially toxic to a cat. It all depends on how much they eat.
Toxicity levels of chocolate:
Milk chocolate the lesser of evils contains only about 12mg/ounce or 1/5 ounce per ounce of cocoa butter and 10mg/ounce or 1/6 ounce per ounce of caffeine.
Milk chocolate can be fatal in small doses to dogs and cats but generally isn’t considered dangerous as dark and semi-sweet baking chocolate.
Semi-sweet baking chips are mainly composed of cacao solids and cocoa butter, these contain 44mg of caffeine per ounce, 3.5 ounces per oz (28gm) is sufficient to cause symptoms in an average size cat.
Dark chocolate cocoa solids and cocoa butter contain 61mg of caffeine per ounce. Baking chocolate or Baker’s chocolate solids from roasted cacao beans. Contains 80mg/ounce of caffeine, so just over 1 oz would be toxic to an average cat.
White chocolate is not considered “chocolate” because it does not contain any cocoa solids white chocolate can still be lethal if large amounts are consumed.
This is because white chocolate contains a very high amount of fat and few other nutrients an average size cat would only have to eat about 2 ounces of white chocolate for it to be fatal.
The problem with lethal dose numbers: these concentrations are not set in stone.
The caffeine concentration in chocolate varies from country to country, and the natural caffeine content of cocoa beans can vary greatly depending on their origin and how they were processed.
The stated concentration also depends greatly on the type of chocolate being used dark vs milk baking vs unsweetened, or even cacao vs cocoa.
These numbers may give you a general idea though there isn’t going to be a huge difference between milk and dark chocolate unless someone has decided to load up a Hershey bar with a couple of hundred milligrams of caffeine.
The other problem with lethal dose numbers is: The amount of chocolate that is actually consumed can make a huge difference in toxicity levels.
If an average-weight cat eats just under 1 ounce of Baker’s chocolate, they are only getting 61mg of caffeine. If they eat just over an ounce though, now they are at the lethal level for caffeine poisoning.
For semi-sweet chocolate chips, it would take less than 0.1 ounces to potentially kill an average cat.
Let’s be realistic here unless your cat weighs 10 pounds, you are not going to have to worry about them eating one cup of semi-sweet baking chips which is over 2 lbs. nor 13 Hershey bars.
Even if they DID manage to eat this much at once though, it would take over an hour for the caffeine to take effect.
Caffeine poisoning typically occurs within a few hours after ingestion, and clinical signs can last for up to 24 hours. Not all of the chocolate consumed will be absorbed by your cat’s body.
If they don’t show clinical signs though doesn’t mean that they aren’t being affected caffeine can affect a cat’s heart rate which makes them very susceptible to cardiac arrest.
This is why it is so important not to feed treats or goodies that contain caffeine or other stimulants such as energy drinks, coffee, etc to your pets.
If you find out that your cat has eaten chocolate you probably don’t need to panic just yet unless they’re showing any signs of illness most cats will not get toxic effects from a small amount of chocolate.
If your pet is showing signs such as restlessness, increased heart rate, or hyperactivity then you need to call the veterinarian immediately for further instructions regarding what action you need to take.
If your cat is showing signs of hyperthermia, restlessness/hyperactivity, increased heart rate or has consumed any amount of chocolate PLEASE call the veterinarian immediately for further instructions.
These symptoms are not to be ignored. Cats are extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine and chocolate.
How much chocolate is toxic for cats?
Cats are more sensitive to Theobromine poisoning than dogs are just a little over an ounce of milk chocolate can be fatal to a cat.
What should I do if my cat eats a small amount of chocolate?
small and seniors can eat a small amount of chocolate without showing clinical signs of poisoning. If your cat has gotten into something it shouldn’t have, call the First and foremost: don’t panic.
Just like with dogs, cats especially those that are veterinarians who will be able to offer you guidance on what action you should take whether it’s making them vomit or simply watching them for any signs of increased heart rate or hyperactivity.
Can a lick of chocolate kill a cat?
No, a lick of chocolate won’t kill your cat. Just like with cats and humans too many licks of the sweet stuff can lead to some pretty serious health issues
While most cats will not get toxic effects from a small amount of cocoa powder or dark chocolate, they are very sensitive to caffeine which is present in all forms of chocolate.
If a cat eats a large amount of dark or baking chocolate, it can develop hyperactivity and heart rate issues which if it’s bad enough may need to be treated in the hospital.
Cats with diabetes should not consume chocolate?
Cats with conditions such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and other organ issues should also refrain from eating any amount of chocolate. Cats that are pregnant or nursing should be kept away from chocolate at all costs.
If a cat has a heart condition then they need to avoid eating any caffeine including dark/baking chocolate at all costs.
What are the symptoms of a cat eating chocolate?
Symptoms of a cat eating chocolate can vary depending on the size and weight of your pet. Common signs that something is wrong include restlessness, increased heart rate, hyperactivity, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures.
If you notice any of these symptoms after your cat has eaten some chocolate please call your veterinarian immediately for further instructions.
What does chocolate do to cats?
Cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and baking chocolate contain Theobromine which is a stimulant that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and probably seizures too in cats.
White chocolate contains much lower levels of this chemical but it’s still not recommended to give to your pet.
You should also avoid giving caffeine to your cat as it can lead to all of the above symptoms as well as other cardiovascular issues.
How poisonous is chocolate to cats?
While it all depends on how much your cat has eaten, the darker the chocolate the more potentially poisonous it is.
Unsweetened baking chocolate contains 11% Theobromine while milk chocolate only contains 0.5%. Amounts vary though so if any of these symptoms are occurring after your pet has eaten some chocolate please call your veterinarian immediately for further instructions.