Methylxanthines caffeine & theobromine. The concentration of theobromine is much higher than that of caffeine, but both cause toxicity in cats.

Dogs are generally more susceptible than cats, no doubt because they are more likely to consume large quantities of chocolate, whereas cats are generally more finicky eaters & therefore less likely to voluntarily consume chocolate, especially in large quantities.

Different kinds of chocolate contain different levels. Cooking chocolate contains the highest levels of methylxanthines, followed by dark chocolate, milk chocolate & white chocolate.

If you suspect or know your cat has ingested chocolate seek veterinary advice immediately.

What does methylxanthines do?

  • It acts as a diuretic, causing the body to lose fluids.
  • Cardiac stimulant; causing the heart to race.
  • Central nervous system stimulant;

Methylxanthines cause central nervous system stimulation, diureses, cardiac muscle stimulation & smooth muscle relaxation.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary on the age of the cat (kittens are more susceptible than adults), and the quantity ingested. If enough is ingested, death can occur. The first signs of methylxanthine poisoning can include:

  • Vomiting & diarrhoea.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Restlessness.
  • Frequent urination & or urinary incontinence.

These can progress to more severe symptoms including:

  • Cardiac dysfunction.
  • Muscle tremors.
  • Seizures.
  • Coma.
  • Death.

How is methylxanthine poisoning diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on history of exposure, physical symptoms, chemical detection of alkaloids in the stomach contents, serum or urine.

How is it treated?

Depending on the severity of the poisoning, your veterinarian will control clinical signs. There is no antidote for methylxanthine poisoning. These may include:

  • If ingestion of chocolate has been within 2 hours, your veterinarian may induce vomiting in the cat, including administering activated charcoal to prevent any further amounts of methylxanthine being absorbed.
  • Intubation & artificial ventilation.
  • Medications to control tremors & seizures.
  • Cardiac monitoring (ECG)


 
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