It is common knowledge that you should not feed dogs and cats chocolate as it is poisonous to them. This is because chocolate contains a substance called theobromine. The name theobromine comes from the Greek words theo (“god”) and broma (“food”), thus meaning “food of the gods”.
Cats and dogs metabolise this chemical very slowly, so they can easily overdose on it. Theobromine poisoning causes vomiting and diarrhoea initially, then progresses to cause hyperactivity, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), seizures, internal bleeding, cardiac arrest, respiratory failure and eventually death. Although cats and dogs have the same metabolism rate of theobromine, there are far less cases of cats overdosing on it as they do not have sweet taste receptors and do not particularly like the taste of chocolate.
Luckily for us, the human body can metabolise theobromine much more efficiently and we are much less likely to get theobromine poisoning (although it is still possible if you eat too much of it). Although it is weaker, theobromine behaves similarly to caffeine in the human body. It stimulates the heart to beat faster, relaxes the blood vessels, reduces blood pressure and stimulates your nervous system to decrease your tiredness and give you a “buzz”.
The effects are potent enough that there is some evidence that eating dark chocolate (which has a higher theobromine content) regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease. However, this is counterbalanced by the negative health effects of sugar and fat found in chocolate. That being said, a small amount of chocolate every now and then not only has a positive effect on your heart, but is a great medicine for your exhausted mind and soul.
When a dog is fed by its owner, it thinks to itself: “This human feeds me every day and cares for my every need. It must be god.”
When a cat is fed by its owner, it thinks to itself: “This human feeds me every day and cares for my every need. I must be god.”
The history of cats is longer than people think. It is known that they have had an intimate relationship with humans for the past 9500 years. The hypothesis is that they were probably domesticated in Egypt and surrounding Middle Eastern countries such as Persia. The reason for this is most likely to eradicate vermin, as they kept stealing the stores of grains that had been produced using developed farming technology.
Cats, with their natural hunting instincts, excelled at this task and people came to love the animals more and more. They became important to the degree that in ancient Egypt, cats were considered sacred animals and worshipped, even being mummified in some cases.
But entering the Middle Ages, the image of cats deteriorated. Europeans considered cats as signs of bad luck and the pet of witches, and proceeded to massacre all cats. As the population shrank, rats thrived with the loss of their predator and began to multiply at a rapid rate. These rats, often carrying fleas, were key players in spreading the deadly Black Plague. In other words, thanks to the massacre of cats, a third of Europe died from the Pest.
Cats are beloved animals in the modern age (dog lovers may disagree), but superstitions linking cats to bad luck still exist. In the West, black cats are believed to be bad luck and have nine lives (most likely originating from a cat’s ability to break its fall).
But their image has much recovered and as it can be seen from characters such as Hello Kitty, they are becoming a symbol of cuteness. However, considering their close relatives such as lions and tigers represent bravery and the king of beasts, a cat’s dignity has surely fallen.