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I know I shouldn't feed a cat chocolate, and I also know dogs can get sick from it. Do I have to worry for my cat's health if (s)he eats some chocolate?

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    It largely depends on the dosage amount of the chocolate – Cody Guldner Nov 21 '13 at 5:00
  • I had a cat that would on rare occasions eat a sliver of chocolate, rolling it on the tongue until it melted. She lived to 20. – Oldcat Mar 21 '14 at 22:18
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I would keep chocolate well away from any cat or dog.

  • Xanthines (a class of alkaloids which I believe includes caffeine as well as theobromine (present in cocoa)) have very low toxicity to humans but this is not true for cats or dogs.
  • Alkaloids (in general) are designed to both deter herbivores with their bitter flavor, and kill them if they don't get the hint (strychnine and many other alkaloids are quite toxic to most animals).

I would freak out if my cat ate chocolate (or for that matter: onions, garlic, mushrooms, broccoli - those all have other phytotoxins in them). Certainly, there are cats and dogs have lived after eating chocolate, but likely they got some organ damage as a result of it, and plenty have also died from it.

Theobromine poisoning: cats, dogs & humans (humans can take much higher doses even mg/kg of theobromine because we have defenses like cytochrome P450 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytochrome_P450)) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theobromine_poisoning

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  • @DanS "unions, garlic": So salami is off limits too? I really have to guard my breakfast plate better. – jippie Apr 10 '14 at 4:57
  • onions and garlic are really bad for them, they destroy red blood cells and do other damage to them – Dan S Apr 10 '14 at 12:25
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    With chocolate, purity is also a factor. Most chocolate products (milk chocolate candy bars, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup) are actually pretty low in purity and less likely to cause serious harm, though I'm sure any amount still isn't good for them. While baking chocolate, which is very pure, for example, is very bad. – Kai Dec 4 '17 at 1:24
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This issue is addressed at length in these questions: Does chocolate hurt hamsters? and Is chocolate harmful for dogs?.

Chocolate contains potential toxins for cats: theobromine and caffeine. Animals are unable to process these in large amounts. Human beings can eat chocolate with varying success, as we are larger and able to process the theobromine in relatively small quantities. What would be a small quantity for a person (in terms of grams / body weight) may be a large quantity for a cat.

It cannot be definitively answered whether your cat has been, effectively, poisoned by an ingestion of chocolate. The best thing would be to monitor your pet for any symptoms of toxicity and do not delay seeking veterinary treatment. A cat will usually display signs of toxicity with the first few hours of ingesting the chocolate, but this can be delayed for up to 12 hours.

Some signs to look out for:

  • vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • trembling, seizure
  • hyperactivity, both behaviourally and physiologically, increased heart rate
  • any changes or signs of unwellness

Always, if in doubt, the internet is no substitute for professional veterinary attention, which a consultation with your local vet can provide.

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  • People have (relatively speaking) quite high tolerances to caffeine, theobromine, and the other xanthines. Those chemicals (especially the first one) are produced by a number of plants and as such a number of herbivores and omnivores have developed ways to cope with them. More specialized alkaloids (think strychnine) we don't have defenses for and they are about as deadly to us as other creatures. – Dan S Apr 8 '14 at 22:08

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