A tiny kitten was rushed to an Aylesbury vets after eating a bar of chocolate meant as a festive gift.
Luca had chomped his way through half of a Galaxy salted caramel chocolate bar that his owner Sally Laird had left in an unopened parcel on her bedside table at their home in Empire Close, Berryfields.
When Sally Laird found the five month old she immediately noticed something was wrong as he was acting sheepishly and not his usual perky self.
Realising he had eaten half of the sharing sized chocolate bar, Mrs Laird rushed the kitten to Hampden Veterinary Hospital in Anchor Lane.
Mrs Laird said: “The chocolate had been sent to me by a friend as a gift.
"I was planning to save it for Christmas and had left it on a bedside table.
"Luca is very inquisitive in his nature so it must have caught his eye.
“Luca was very quiet as we drove him to Hampden Vets and he was sick when he arrived in the hospital’s waiting area.”
As veterinary surgeon Kay Mak was able to act quickly, inducing further vomiting before the chocolate could be digested, Luca escaped without anything more serious.
Kay said: “We gave Luca liquids and regularly checked for seizures as chocolate can rapidly increase the heartbeat, with theobromine acting in a similar way to caffeine in people.
“He was very lucky as he had eaten such a large amount of chocolate, especially for a small kitten, and we were able to release him the following day.
“We would urge other pet owners to ensure they don’t leave any chocolate within easy reach, particularly over the Christmas period when it’s more common to have in the house.
“If your pet eats something it shouldn’t, contact your vet straight away and make sure you provide a full report on what has been eaten, how much and when.”
Following Luca's lucky escape, Hampden Vets have issued advice ahead of the festive period on how to protect your pets from things that could be dangerous to them which may be in your home over Christmas.
The vets said: "Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine which is potentially life-threatening when eaten by cats and dogs.
"While it is quite common for dogs to be brought to veterinary practices after eating chocolate, particularly around the Christmas period when sweet treats are around the home, it is very unusual for cats.
"Over the Christmas period, pets are more likely than usual to ingest food like chocolate – either by getting their paws on them when no one is looking, like Luca, or because the owners don’t know how dangerous they can be."
Mrs Laird added: “All the emergency veterinary team were excellent at caring for Luca and keeping us informed on how he was doing as we were very concerned for him when we were told just how dangerous chocolate can be for cats.
“They were very surprised by just how much he had eaten as it’s not something they often see with cats.
"We will definitely be more aware that parcels that are delivered at this time of year could contain food or chocolate.”
The vets added: "Common emergencies at Christmas include dogs choking or suffering internal damage from turkey bones, and pets being poisoned by chocolate, mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, while over feeding fatty food can damage your pet’s pancreas or cause gastroenteritis.
"Other festive hazards include poinsettias, pine needles, holly berries and mistletoe, which can all cause illness if eaten."
Following Luca's experience Hampden Vets have issued a list of 12 things to keep away from your pets over the festive season:
> Aspirin and ibuprofen
> Christmas cake, mince pies and Christmas pudding
> Cooked bones
> Holly berries
> Sugar free sweets and mints