If you have a dog, you probably know that chocolate is very toxic to our canine friends. But what about cats and chocolate? Can cats eat chocolate? Is chocolate toxic to cats, too? The answer, as it turns out, is pretty complicated.
1. First off, can cats eat chocolate?
“If ingested, chocolate can cause gastrointestinal [distress], such as vomiting and diarrhea, and increased heart rates,” says Stephanie Demarco, DVM, of VCA Kirkwood Animal Hospital in Newark, Delaware. “However, if enough chocolate is ingested, it can lead to much more serious problems, such as seizures, coma and death. So, yes, chocolate is toxic to cats.
2. Cats aren’t likely to eat chocolate, though.
“Luckily, cats don’t have a sweet tooth like dogs do, so it is less commonly seen than in dogs,” Dr. Demarco explains. Cats lack a taste receptor for “sweet”— they literally cannot taste sweet substances. This makes cats and chocolate an unlikely combination. Unlike your dog, your kitty is highly unlikely to scarf down your candy bar or sample a pan of brownies cooling on the counter.
3. Two components in chocolate are dangerous to cats.
The stimulants theobromine and caffeine pose no risk to humans, but can cause serious problems in both dogs and cats.
4. Some types of chocolate are worse for cats.
The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated it is, which means it contains more theobromine. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolates are the worst for cats to ingest, but semi-sweet and milk chocolates can cause issues in large enough quantities. White chocolate poses no risk (white chocolate contains only trace amounts of theobromine and caffeine).
Types of chocolate from most (the worst chocolate for cats) to least toxic for cats:
- Unsweetened dry cocoa powder
- Baking chocolate
- Dark chocolate (above 60 percent cacao)
- Semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate (white chocolate is not a problem, as it contains none of the dangerous methylxanthines found in true chocolate products)
5. If your cat ingests chocolate, seek veterinary treatment immediately.
When it comes to cats and chocolate, the seriousness of the situation depends on how much and what type of chocolate your kitty ate. “The best thing to do is get medical advice from your veterinarian,” Dr. Demarco advises. “You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline [888-426-4435] to see if the amount and type of chocolate ingested needs medical treatment.”
6. Whatever you do, don’t try to induce vomiting at home.
Although inducing vomiting is commonly recommended for dogs who ingest certain toxins, inducing your cat to vomit is risky. “At no point should you try to make your cat vomit,” Dr. Demarco says. “It may not be necessary or recommended, or it may even be considered dangerous, depending on the situation.” Always consult a veterinarian if you think your cat has ingested something toxic.
7. Err on the side of caution and keep chocolate — and any candy — away from your cat.
Even though cats are unlikely to eat sugary treats, it’s best to keep chocolate and other candy safely out of reach, especially around kittens, who are more likely to experiment and eat weird things.
A note on xylitol and cats
Xylitol isn’t in chocolate, but it is in things like sugar-free gum and candy. Cats aren’t likely to eat sweets, but if they do, the good news is that xylitol is not toxic to cats. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs though, so if you have a dog who ingests a product containing xylitol, seek immediate veterinary treatment.
Thumbnail: Photography ©Mirrelley | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
Although chocolate isn’t good for cats, check out these reasons why it’s good for you:
- Is Dark Chocolate Healthy? 5 Reasons to Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
- Chocolate Benefits for Your Brain: Improves Memory and Mood
Read more about what cats can eat on Catster.com:
15 thoughts on “Can Cats Eat Chocolate? What to Know About Cats and Chocolate Toxicity”
I've read conflicting statements regarding the toxicity of xylitol for cats. Some say it's toxic, although not quite as toxic as for dogs; others say it isn't. So, just to be on the safe side, keep your xylitol-sweetened foods away from your dogs AND cats. (Who would feed their cat chocolate, anyway.)
I had an orange tiger cat, as a child, who loved to have a square of my Hershey bar. One day I was playing with modeling clay which was brown from all the colors having been mixed together. I had cut it into little squares, and I guess that he thought it was either chocolate or meat and I caught him just as he was swallowing the last of it. He didn't seem to have any ill effects.
What are the symptoms that I would be able to notice if my cats ate a very small amount of Wendy‘ s chocolate Frosty occasionally?
They only get a very small dab on the end of a spoon. They drive me crazy wanting more, but I am adamant. Would vanilla frosty in small amounts occasionally be OK?
They don’t like cat treats of any kind, even the expensive ones.
Thank-you so much.
Please do not feed your cat any of this frosty! Please ask your vet if you notice any unusual symptoms.
I think chocolate are very toxic for cats and dogs. But, How people could let their cats eat chocolate? Cats are happy with cat food. I do not know why people do such thing.
If they can’t taste sweet things then why did I have to cover my brownies with a lid and a weight on top? Mine growing up would sneak on the counter in the night and eat the whole middle of the brownies if I didn’t cover them with a weight. Tin foil or Saran wrap were shredded and setting a cookie sheet without something heavy on top was pushed onto the floor.
Hi Danyelle — thanks for reaching out!
Cats might not be able to taste sweet things, but they are able to smell them. Their sense of smell stimulates their appetites. Read more facts about the cat nose and sense of smell here:
Pingback: What Foods Are Toxic to Cats? – Petocat
I had a beautiful long haired tabby Norwegian forest cross breed cat, unfortunately he died from cancer 4 years ago. I adopted him from my local SPCA as a kitten . He loved ice cream and would go frantic every time he see me going to the fridge, same story with yogurt, eventually I had to go to another room to enjoy my yogurt or ice cream as he always had a lactose intolerence to milk [especially the yogurt]. I hated disappointing him but he was for his benefit. He always sensed I was out of reach [with his favourite treats] as he kept meowing looking for me
For a treat we go for ice cream. Sam will eat
About half of my cone. But only if it is Zanzibar chocolate.
Has to be the darkest available.
Knows when we get near Scoops shop.
Certainly does not seem to bother him except to be very content.
Sam is a big cat as he is part Maine Coon.
One of my cats is crazy about chocolate. She is 15 years old now and healthy.
I don’t eat chocolate very often and always try to do it when she is not looking but I think she smells it and comes running. I end up giving her a little bit and so far no problem.
My dog also likes chocolate and also gets a little bit. There was one time when I had just arrived home from shopping and placed the groceries on the kitchen table. Went into another room to take off my coat and when I went back into the kitchen my dog has eaten a hole chocolate bar. I got worried and called the vet. He said to monitor the dog and if anything unusual happened to take her in. The dog was fine and is still fine (of course now she only gets a little bit every time and I am more careful with the grocery bags).
It’s usually because cats sample whatever they see their humans eat. I once had a Manx who would insist on eating the very tiny (pin head size) crumbs of chocolate from my candy bars, he would also insist on licking the inside of the lids of ice cream pints, especially if it was chocolate. One time I couldn’t get chocolate ice cream–for myself, naturally–and got some that had a chocolate ribbon and chocolate covered almonds. I gave him the lid, he looked at it, looked back at me, and I swear I could hear him saying, hey, where’s the chocolate? I explained why I couldn’t get chocolate–they were out, it was a small convenience store–and then he resignedly started licking the lid, but like he was saying, okay, this time, but next time, it’s chocolate! I also had another cat that liked to lick the insides of ice cream lids, but when she developed pancreatitis, I had to stop. She loved her ice cream, and cried miserably afterward when I had to tell her no more–doctor’s orders. She also would sample what I ate–I’m still astonished over the one time she sampled my iced tea! Funny how we used to give chocolate to our pets, and they were okay, until we found out how bad it was for them. Yet they survived. I can’t figure that out.
My cat loves chocolate, white chocolate or the white vanilla like sweet. White Kit Kats or any white candy like that. White chocolate with coconut by Lindor. Puddings ice cream anything sweet. Is he tasting the sweet? He loves butter and coconut oil. All are different textures. Cheese I get mugged, he likes pizza, avocados, eggs, mostly the yoke, tuna but not salmon. He will not eat turkey lunch meat. Hmm should tell me something. ???? He prefers the dark over white at Thanksgiving. My vet suggested a raw diet, which I started, but he developed Pancreatitis. I still believe it was from the raw food. He now eats a wet grain free cat food.
He does not get these foods on a regular basis. They are treats once in a blue moon, ???? but has demonstrated a preference for these foods over the years. He is a beautiful cat of 22 years, has been with me for 18 years. He still plays and chases the red dot down the hallway. He does not act or walk like an old cat. A very handsome cat.
Why in heavens name do people want to feed their cats these ridiculous things? Come on, folks, get real. Feed your cat “cat food” and avoid a myriad of problems and anxiety. I just do not understand this thinking.