It’s a hot summer’s day and what’s the best way to beat the heat if not with ice cream? If you’re a cat owner, sitting down to enjoy a bowl of ice cream is easier said than done because the minute you lift the first spoonful, in walks your cat and the rest is history. You can either try to ignore your cat as it stares deep into your soul every time you lift your spoon or you can admit defeat and slide your cat their share of ice cream, irrespective the result will be the same and you will end up giving your cat ice cream.
But as irresistible as the ice cream is for us mere humans, is it something your cat should be eating? Will it give them a brain freeze, a sore throat, or upset their stomachs?
Can Cats Eat Ice Cream?
When people picture cats they usually picture them enjoying a bowl of milk. After all, milk and cats are synonymous. However, most people will be surprised to find out that it is actually advised not to give cats milk! The reason behind this shocking precaution is that cats are lactose intolerant and thus need to avoid dairy products to avoid stomach upsets. The milk we drink usually comes from cows and has a high-fat content. This fat content is not something that your cat’s stomach can tolerate and can lead to indigestion and diarrhea and if prolonged can lead to your cat becoming dehydrated. Now you’re probably thinking “but my cat enjoys milk, how can it be dangerous for it?” The answer is simple; they don’t know that just because the taste is yummy, it’s bad for their tummy. You as their owner do (now at least).
Ice cream is another dairy product that cats seem to want to have. Unlike milk, which on rare occasions won’t be a crime to give, ice cream is a slight bit more complicated.
What are the benefits of eating ice cream?
The milk present in the ice cream has lactic acid. Although a lick or two won’t cause them substantial harm, anything more than that is enough to cause your cat to suffer from gas, stomach aches, and diarrhea.
Ice cream also contains sugar. While cat does not have sugar taste receptors and is not particularly drawn to the sweet. However, the sugar will cause their stomach to suffer from cramps making your feline friends unhappy.
Is chocolate ice cream bad for cats?
Now if you’re like me and your favorite ice cream flavor is good old chocolate, you’ll need to take extra precaution. Chocolate is fatally toxic for most animals and cats are no exception. Chocolate contains theobromine which is an alkaloid that is fatal for your cat. 100-200mg per kg would be considered a lethal dose for your cat. One mere ounce of cocoa powder contains up to 800mg of theobromine so when a minuscule amount of chocolate ice cream is terrible for your cat. Yours follow up the question now must be “is vanilla ice cream also unsafe for my cat?” If you must give your cat ice cream, then vanilla is the safest flavor to give. Strawberry is also a flavor that you can give but it is best to avoid since they have no nutritional value for your cats.
Is Brain Freeze dangerous for cats?
You’ve probably seen all those trending videos online where cats hilariously suffer from temporary brain freeze from lapping up ice cream way too fast and have probably considered trying to put on your cat. We would highly advise that you don’t. Brain freeze is uncomfortable as it is for people like you and me. So why would it be any different for your feline?
Firstly, cats hate the cold. You might have noticed even if your cat is the furriest feline, in the winters it’ll find the warmest spot to lounge in, you’ll find them sunbathing near the window or soaking up your body heat sitting comfortably in your lap. That is because cats have an elevated internal temperature which means they feel colder really easily. Newborn kittens don’t even generate their own body heat and need their mother’s constant warmth.
Now when your cat ingests something as cold as ice cream at such a high speed, its body is caught off guard and its arteries dilate at a much quicker speed than normal, and that in turn affects the trigeminal nerve. This nerve, also known as the fifth cranial nerve is responsible for carrying information to your cat’s brain. Now when your cat suffers from brain freeze, the discomfort will start from its mouth to its throat and then to all the surrounding nerves. The frozen brain sensation is referred to as sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia in medical terms. While it won’t kill your cat, it will cause a likely headache and may be painful for your cat, and will cause confusion and a lot of discomforts. As a pet owner who loves their fur baby, why would you want to knowingly put your cat through the pain?
What if your ice cream isn’t store-bought and you make eat natural homemade ice cream? It’s definitely a much better option, but that also depends on what the ingredients are. Like we mentioned, cow milk upsets your cat’s stomach so even if your ice cream is homemade, you need to avoid cow milk. A safe alternate to cow milk for your cat is goat milk. The fat content in goat milk is much less and thus is more suitable for your cat’s needs. And goat’s milk doesn’t require pasteurization which essentially means that some natural enzymes are left in the fluid and those enzymes are what aid lactose digestion.
What happens if my cat eats ice cream?
Similarly, it also depends on what flavor the ice cream is. Like we mentioned before, under no circumstances should you give your cats chocolate-flavored anything, even if it’s homemade. If you have vanilla natural ice cream then you can give some to your cat. You will have to do thorough research about ingredients that are toxic for your cat and what is not. You’ll also have to make sure the ice cream isn’t too cold to cause your cat that nasty brain freeze. You might have to melt it out a bit and then give it to your cat rather than straight out from the freezer. Also, we wouldn’t suggest making this a regular treat for your cat. Once in a while as a rare treat won’t cause your kitty any harm but as long as it remains once in a while.
As pet owners, we’re always on the edge trying to ensure our pets are safe and secure in our homes and that they live a long life by our side. That often means having to do what seems like the impossible and giving in to temptation and fulfilling their every demand. This is especially true when it comes to cat owners who know all too well how unrelenting our felines can be when they set their sight to it. Our solution is that the next time you want to indulge in a bowl of ice cream, make sure that you’re well hidden, locked away in a room that your cat can’t reach, and enjoy your guilty pleasure!