Chocolate Poisoning In Cats


  • Chocolate contains theobromine, which is perfectly safe for humans, but toxic for cats, dogs, ferrets and rabbits.
  • The seriousness of chocolate poisoning depends on how much chocolate your cat has eaten, how much they weigh, and the cocoa content of the chocolate –darker chocolate is likely to be more toxic.
  • If your cat has eaten chocolate, keep the packaging and call your vet immediately.

Can cats eat chocolate?

An illustration showing the toxicity level of chocolate poisoning in pets

Although chocolate poisoning is generally associated with dogs, cats should also never be given chocolate. Chocolate is made with cocoa solids, which contain a substance called theobromine. Theobromine is harmless to humans, but toxic to cats and other pets because they struggle to metabolise it (break it down). Chocolate can also contain a small amount of caffeine which can be harmful to cats.

As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids/theobromine it will contain, and the more toxic it is. However, even chocolate with less cocoa solids can be toxic if enough is eaten. Although white chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa solids (so toxicity isn’t a risk), it does contain a lot of fat and sugar, which can cause stomach upsets. Cocoa powder is especially toxic because it contains an extremely high concentration of cocoa solids.


Theobromine is a similar substance to caffeine and if it’s ingested at a toxic dose, it can cause the nervous system, guts, and muscles to go into overdrive. This typically causes symptoms such as:

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually appear within two to four hours but can take up to 12 hours and last for days. In severe cases toxicity can cause:

  • Fast breathing or panting
  • Shaking, trembling and tremors
  • High temperature (fever)
  • Seizures
  • A fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure

This is very rare, but the most severe cases of chocolate poisoning can lead to heart failure, coma and even death.

When to contact your vet

If you suspect your cat may have eaten chocolate, don’t wait for symptoms to appear. You should immediately call your veterinary practice or the 'Animal Poison Line' for advice. You will need to tell them the type of chocolate, how much they ingested, the weight of your pet, and when it happened.


If your cat has eaten a toxic dose of chocolate it’s important that they are seen by a vet as soon as possible. The treatment they need will depend on how much/what type of chocolate they have eaten. Common treatments include:

  • Induced vomiting if you can get your cat to the clinic within a few hours of them eating the chocolate, your vet might give them an injection to make them sick. Don’t try to make your cat sick at home.
  • Activated charcoal – your vet may give your cat some activated charcoal to absorb any remaining toxins, and they might give you some to continue giving at home.
  • A fluid drip depending on how much chocolate your cat has eaten, and the seriousness of their condition, they may need a fluid drip to support their vital organs and prevent them from becoming dehydrated while their body flushes out any toxins.
  • Sedation if your cat is suffering from severe symptoms, such as tremors and seizures, they may need to be sedated to stop them from getting worse.
  • Close monitoring – if your vet decides to keep your cat in the hospital, they will monitor them closely and ask you to do the same once they are home. It’s important that you contact your vet for advice if your cat deteriorates.


Fortunately, most cases of chocolate ingestion don’t cause long-term problems and, with the right treatment, most cats make a full recovery. However, it’s important to act fast because in severe cases, chocolate poisoning can be fatal if treatment is delayed.


  • Never feed chocolate to your cat (make sure any children in the house also know about this).
  • Keep all chocolate, and chocolate-containing products, out of reach by storing them in high or locked cupboards.
  • Be particularly careful at festive times such as Easter, Christmas and other events that involve chocolate.
  • Try to keep your cat away from post and parcels – you never know when someone might send you a chocolatey treat!
  • Avoid using gardening mulches that contain cocoa shell.


What an expensive snack! Treatment for chocolate poisoning can cost hundreds of pounds (depending on the treatment needed).

When you welcome a new cat into your life, consider getting cat insurance straight away before any signs of illness start. This will give you peace of mind that you have some financial support if they ever get sick.

Published: January 2023

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.