One problem is that cats in general find chocolate very tasty and
so, it is important not to feed it to them, otherwise they will eat
what you give them up to the point where it poisons them.
Chocolate contains the compound theobromine which is a diuretic
as well as a cardiac stimulant. This can cause the pet's heart rate
to increase or it may cause the heart to beat irregularly, both of
which can be dangerous to the animal. The level of theobromine present
in chocolate varies depending on the type of chocolate. For example,
dark chocolate contains higher levels than milk chocolate and so could
pose a greater risk to your pet.
There are many problems that can result from feeding a cat
chocolate. Chocolate is relatively high in calories so it can contribute to
the development of obesity in your cat. A cat can lose its
appetite for it's normal food if it eats chocolate. The largest problem is
though the fact that chocolate contains the chemical theobromine
as mentioned above. If this chemical builds up in the cats system,
it can be potentially lethal, and one reason for this is that cats
cannot clear theobromine from their bodies as quickly as people can.
Many cat owners would simply expect their pet to develop an upset
stomach after eating a large amount of chocolate but few realize
its lethal potential.
Further problems which can arise from chocolate poisoning are
Diuresis (increased urine production), diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting,
depression, and muscle tremors. These are signs which must be
recognized by any cat owner so that the cat is not fed too much
Treatment for chocolate poisoning in its advanced stage can be
very unpleasant for both the cat and the owner of the cat, so it is
much better to be safe and to cut down chocolate consumption of your
cat to a minimum. If you do have worries that your cat has consumed
large quantities of human chocolate it would be wise to consult your
vet - pronto. Spotting the symptoms early on can be very beneficial and
can give the cat a much better chance of surviving any poisoning
which may have occurred.
If you wish to feed your cat chocolate, there are alternate
"chocolate" treats for cats which are produced by some pet food
manufacturers. They will either use a vegetable substitute made
to taste and look like chocolate, or they will take out the
theobromine, or use greatly reduced, safe levels in the chocolate treats they
produce. While a very small amount of chocolate may not be
harmful to some cats, it is always safest to avoid giving any to them at all.