Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

The dangers of chocolate for dogs is well known, but what about cats and chocolate? Can cats eat chocolate? Here’s a detailed look at the risks.

In large enough amounts, chocolate is a toxin for cats.

We all know (or at least I hope you do) that chocolate is a big no-no for dogs. But can cats eat chocolate?

Dogs can — and will — eat almost anything, so it is more of a possibility that they will consume a large amount of chocolate. Cats are known to be picky eaters, so even if they do go for the chocolate, it’s uncommon and usually a small portion.

I read about a cat owner who said her cats love Hershey’s Kisses and that she finds wrappers around the house from eaten treats. How healthy is this for the cats? Is chocolate toxic to cats?

Can Cats Eat Chocolate?

If you’re wondering “can cats have chocolate?” the straight answer is no.

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine. In larger amounts, theobromine is especially dangerous because cats can’t break it down and eliminate it like humans.

This stimulant affects the central nervous and cardiac systems.

Hershey's unsweetened chocolate baking bar
Just one 1/2 oz. square of this can harm your pet!

How Much Chocolate Is Too Much for a Cat?

A small amount of chocolate is not fatal to cats. Your kitty will not have to have his stomach pumped for eating a few small Hershey’s Kisses. However, eating too much (especially darker chocolate) can become a medical emergency.

The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Baking chocolate is considered the worst and has the highest level of theobromine.

In the order of theobromine toxicity, here’s a list from worst to least:

  • Baking chocolate (worst)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Milk chocolate
  • White chocolate (least)

So, how much chocolate is too much for a cat? How much chocolate will hurt a cat depends. If you’re wondering “will a tiny bit of chocolate hurt my cat?”, the answer isn’t straightforward. Factors include the weight of the cat plus the kind and amount of chocolate consumed. As little as 20mg of theobromine per pound of pet weight can cause side effects and health problems.

That means you should call the veterinarian if your 10-pound pet consumes:

  • 1.5 tablespoons of dry cocoa powder
  • One square of unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 20g (0.7 oz.) of 70-85% dark chocolate
  • 25g (0.9 oz.) of 60-69% dark chocolate
  • 33g (1.2 oz.) of 45-59% dark chocolate
  • A thin slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting
  • 78g (2.7 oz.) of milk chocolate candies
  • 5 tablespoons of chocolate syrup
  • 23 Hershey’s Kisses (about a third of an 11-ounce bag)
  • 2 packages of regular M&Ms
  • 2 whole 3 Musketeers bars
  • Reese’s Pieces contain only trace amounts of theobromine

These are intended only as rough guidelines (always use your best judgment and call your vet when in doubt), but you can see how the toxicity ranges depending on the darkness of the chocolate.

However, I really hope pet owners would consider any amount over zero to be too much. Even if your cat eats a little chocolate here and there, it’s still not healthy. Despite these rough guidelines, your cat should be kept away from chocolate as the toxic amount can vary between individual cats.

Let’s take a look at the possible effects chocolate can create in cats.

Symptoms of Chocolate Toxicity

Not only is chocolate bad for cats, it can be toxic. This is a long list of possible effects that show what happens if cats eat chocolate. Some effects may be minor and others fatal. Symptoms of chocolate toxicity can include:

  • Lethargy
  • Nervousness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Tremors/muscle twitching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive panting
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Coma
  • Death

With this daunting list of symptoms, the best amount of chocolate for cats should be none.


If you’re wondering what to do if your cat eats chocolate, it’s important to act fast. If your cat accidentally ate chocolate or you feel your cat has consumed a toxic amount of chocolate, go to the vet or your nearest animal emergency room right away for treatment.

If your cat ate chocolate very recently (usually within one to two hours) the vet may choose to induce vomiting or administer charcoal. Medications might be provided to control the side effects, and more serious cases may require your pet to be intubated, placed on a ventilator or monitored for cardiac activity.

It’s always best to err on the side of caution, so acting quick and contacting a vet when you suspect your cat has eaten chocolate is important.

Stick With Regular Pet Treats

Products are on the market that mimic sweet treats or chocolate tastes if you truly want to provide a treat or believe your cat likes chocolate. This isn’t something I would consider or encourage. Stick with regular cat treats.

Every member of your household needs to be informed and understand the risks of chocolate when it comes to pets. Chocolate isn’t good for a cat’s dental health either; with this fact and the risk of severe side effects or even death, the acceptable level of chocolate for cats should remain at a firm zero.

Photos: SuziJane (top), alexgoodey/Flickr

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can Cats Eat Chocolate Ice Cream?

No, cats can not eat chocolate ice cream because the chocolate in the dessert poses the same toxic risks to them. Additionally, the lactose in ice cream is not recommended for cats either. For the safety of your feline friend, avoid giving them chocolate ice cream.

Can Cats Eat White Chocolate?

While white chocolate is not as high up on the chocolate toxicity scale for cats as other varieties, it is still bad for them and can be toxic. Therefore, you should avoid offering any type of chocolate, including white chocolate, to them.

Can Cats Eat Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Baked desserts with chocolate in them are not good for cats for a number of reasons. Not only do these treats contain chocolate, which is toxic for cats, but the ingredients used in cakes and cookies can be bad for cats too, possibly causing issues like obesity or dental problems as a result of the high sugar content. In general, if you find yourself asking “can cats eat chocolate pudding”, “can cats eat chocolate milk”, or even “can cats eat chocolate muffins”, the answer is no. It is best for you to avoid feeding any chocolate based treats to your cat because even small amounts can be harmful or possibly fatal.