Cats and Candy: Halloween Safety for Your Cat
With Halloween just around the bend, your family's probably looking forward to treats more than tricks. Those colorful, sugary delights can also be a temptation to your feline family members, but cats and candy can be a dangerous combination. For her safety, it's important to keep your kitty away from the candy stash.
Dangerous Foods for Cats
Some ingredients found in Halloween candy and other treats can cause an upset stomach in your cat, while others can be downright toxic and dangerous to ingest. PetMD warns that it's especially important to keep your kitty away from these treats:
The ingredient that makes up the majority of Halloween candy and what is probably the yummiest to your kids is also the most toxic to your pets. Chocolate contains the compound theobromine, which can cause serious reactions in cats that include heart arrhythmia, muscle tremors, and seizures. Cats should also be kept away from caffeine, another ingredient found in chocolate that can also induce muscle tremors, as well as heart palpitations and restlessness.
Cats are lactose intolerant, so while ingesting candy that contains dairy isn't likely to be lethal, it could cause an upset stomach, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
This sweetener is used as a sugar substitute in many sugar-free candies and chewing gums. In dogs, this ingredient is known to raise insulin levels and cause a severe drop in blood sugar and can lead to liver failure. While there has never been an official case of this occurring with cats, it's better to be safe than sorry and keep your cat away from sugar-free treats.
There's always that one house that hands out boxes of raisins in place of candy. What's meant to be a healthier treat for your kids could be deadly to your pets. Raisins, along with grapes, are known to cause kidney failure in dogs. Again, while there's never been a known case of this happening with cats–possibly because cats are pickier eaters than dogs–it's best to err on the side of caution and keep them away from your cat at all costs.
Toxicity isn't the only danger that comes from mixing cats and candy. Your cat is actually less likely to be tempted by the candy itself than she is by colorful, crinkly candy wrappers, which can serve as a choking hazard, warns Cat Behavior Associates. If she manages to ingest a wrapper without choking on it, it could cause an intestinal blockage. Paper sticks left over from lollipops and hard candy could also become choking hazards. So to keep your kitty safe, it's best to keep all types of candy shut up in a safe place where she can't get to it, as well as discard all of the wrappers properly.
If Your Cat Ingests Candy
PetMD recommends taking the following actions if you think your cat might have eaten some candy:
- If possible, determine what she ate and how much of it.
Call your veterinarian, who can advise you whether you should observe your cat for symptoms, induce vomiting to clear her stomach, or bring her in for treatment.
- If you can't reach your vet, call the nearest emergency pet hospital instead. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661, or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.
If you have small children in the house, it is a good idea to manage their candy intake (for multiple reasons), so that you can ensure that they aren't tempted to share their tasty sweets with the cat, or leave any wrappers lying around for her to play with. If you're worried that your cat will feel left out on Halloween, keep her favorite cat treats or kibbles of her cat food on hand to distract her from the candy. Give your kitty a Halloween cat treat that's good for her, and leave the human treats to the humans.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger, and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.