Dog ate chocolate?

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My kitten died.

Species: Cat
Breed: DSH Tabby
Age: Less than 3 mon
Hi Dr Marie,

We came home on Sunday after a night away (less than 24 hours) to find our poor kitten had died overnight. Gizmo was 10 weeks old and had just been to the vet a week before to get his FVRCP, pronounced perfectly healthy apart from a small limp he got when jumping from my husband's shoulder. :)

We lost another 3 month old kitten earlier this year to what looked like cardiomyopathy (his legs went completely limp, he went very slack and started crying, and within an hour - on the way to the emergency hospital - he had passed away). But we don't know what happened to Gizmo because we weren't there - and yes, we feel absolutely wretched for leaving him!

We had thought he would be OK overnight, we left plenty of dry food and water, etc. The first thing we noticed when we got home was some dry food scattered on the floor, then we noticed Gizmo lying close to his food bowl, and realised he had died. He was lying as if asleep and there were no signs of any accident or struggling.

We wondered if maybe he had choked on his dry food (we recently switched to IAMS and noticed the pieces were larger than the Royal Canin we were using). He had a habit of swallowing without chewing. Could this be possible, or, what are the chances of the same thing (cardiomyopathy) happening twice to two unrelated kittens? Both were rescued from the Humane Society and we had both for less than a month before they died, but gave them plenty of food, water, love and play in those short weeks.

I really don't want this happening again, if there is anything we might be doing wrong, but I have lived with cats for most of my life (until I went to college) and never had any issues. Any thoughts you have would be welcomed.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am so sorry to hear that this happened. Cases like this are so difficult because it is extremely hard for us to ever know what happened.

By far the most common reason for a young, apparently healthy cat to die suddenly is a heart condition. And yes, cardiomyopathy (likely hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) is the most likely culprit. This type of problem is something that a cat would be born with. I would agree with you that the odds are extremely low for two unrelated cats to both die of cardiomyopathy. But, I'm guessing that this is likely what happened.

It is extremely unlikely that Gizmo choked on his food.

Is there any way that you could have your veterinarian do a post mortem exam on him? If so, they may be able to tell if the walls of the heart are abnormally thickened as we would see with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Please know that you did nothing wrong.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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