As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Your cat may be trained not to beg for human food, but you’ve probably noticed that your feline friend seems to sit up around your bowl of ice cream. Ice cream might seem like an odd choice for a carnivore, but once you’ve had a cat or two, you’ll get used to this kind of begging. Yesour cat is probably also attracted to the smell of ice cream. The scent tells them there are plenty of delicious fats and carbs in your bowl. Like any responsible pet owner, your first question is probably whether it’s safe to share your treat with your cat.
So, can cats eat chocolate ice cream? No, the cats shouldn’t have chocolate ice cream. Some flavorings can be toxic to cats, and sugar isn’t very good for them either. Chocolate is harmful to cats due to caffeine and theobromine. Most cats are lactose intolerant, which makes ice cream a poor choice for pets.
The good news is that even if you can’t share your ice cream with your pet, there are alternatives. We’ll talk a bit more about why ice cream isn’t for cats, then some fun alternatives you can give your cat as a treat (and toy).
Adult cats and lactose intolerance
Adult cats are lactose intolerant, like many people, and cannot drink milk without getting an upset stomach. Although your cat usually won’t vomit from milk (or ice cream), she may behave a bit strangely or seem lethargic.
You’ll probably also notice a stinky surprise in the litter box later. Ice cream and other dairy products can give your cat diarrhea. This is just one of many common health issues a cat owner has to deal with.
Although your cat usually feels better after a few hours and has gone to the bathroom, some cats have a more severe reaction. They may have several bouts of diarrhea and may not always make it to the litter box.
If your cat seems to have a severe reaction to ice cream or seems really uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to contact your veterinarian.
Ice cream flavors
There is good news here. Vanilla is perfectly safe for cats and has been used as a flavoring in some cat treats! However, other varieties of ice cream flavors are probably not safe.
Chocolate is toxic to cats, which is why chocolate ice cream is something your cat shouldn’t have. Most types of chocolate aren’t very tempting to felines, but you have to be very careful with a bowl of ice cream. Even licking an empty bowl can give your cat a toxic dose of chocolate.
Chocolate is especially so because it contains caffeine and theobromine. Theobromine is absorbed differently in humans than in pets. For cats, it absorbs slowly making it toxic. The cat’s body cannot process it properly and in large quantities it can harm your cat’s health.
If you find out your cat has eaten chocolate, chances are you’ll notice him vomiting or becoming more restless due to a racing heartbeat. You may find them dehydrated, having nausea, fever, difficulty breathing, and even having a seizure!
This study breaks down the various ingredients found in chocolate as well as toxicity.
Other flavors, from fruit flavors to caramel, should also be avoided. Even though the flavor itself isn’t toxic, there are plenty of other reasons to keep your ice cream away from your cat. Especially so that you can eat it yourself!
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Sugar is also not particularly good for cats. In fact, felines cannot taste the sweetness of their food at all and are not designed to process high sugar foods.
Cats are obligate carnivores. It means they are obligatory derive a significant portion of their diet from meat.
Almost all cat foods contain a combination of meats, grains, and some fruits and vegetables. But they are not sweet. A large amount of sugar burdens the digestive system of the cat, overloads it and has negative consequences for its health.
Sugar is more of a risk for obese cats or cats that already have diabetes, for the same reasons that sugar is not good for humans with these conditions. There are calories in sugar, even though your cat can’t taste it, but it doesn’t provide nutrition.
Sugar is also high in calories, which makes it worse for cats because they don’t need as many calories throughout the day as you do.
Cats can’t digest artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are a whole different story. Your cat can digest sugar, but is unlikely to digest artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, many artificial sweeteners can also be toxic to cats, especially if given more than a lick or two.
If you suspect your cat has eaten ice cream made with artificial sweeteners, you should call a veterinarian immediately. If your vet is closed, call the nearest veterinary hospital instead. You should also grab the box so the vet knows which artificial sweetener your cat took, as each should be treated differently.
You should also be aware that more and more ice cream and other sweets are starting to be made with a combination of natural sugars and artificial sweeteners. If your cat accidentally got into your ice cream, read the ingredient list on your sugar just to be sure.
After the visit to the vet, it is important to give your cat a simple diet to help him readjust. Step away from the treats for a while and of course don’t let them near the chocolate ice cream anymore!
Cats can be brain frozen
There are plenty of videos of cats eating cold food, often ice cream, and making funny faces when they have an obvious frozen brain. The videos are cute, but you shouldn’t try to replicate them.
Think about the last time you had a brain freeze. It wasn’t comfortable, was it? Cats experience a brain freeze in the same way. This causes blood flow to the brain to constrict, resulting in that momentary intense pain that most of us remember from childhood.
The truth is, no amount of cuteness is worth your feline causing unnecessary pain.
This is especially true since there are no good ways for us to assess how much discomfort a brain freeze actually causes your cat. They might be feeling a similar kind of discomfort, or it might be a more intense feeling that they just can’t communicate.
Alternatives to ice cream suitable for cats:
There are several things you can do as an alternative to ice cream, while giving your cat a treat and extra stimulation.
Cat specific ice cream
Once a rare specialty, cat ice cream and treats are becoming commonplace frozen. Some are designed to mimic the look of vanilla ice cream, including a slight vanilla flavor, while meeting your cat’s nutritional needs. Others are flavored like fish, chicken, and other cat-friendly foods.
Getting some ice cream look-alikes can be a great way to help your cat feel included in summer family treats, but it might not be a good idea if you’re not good at putting your cats away. dirty ice cream bowls.
Other flavors add variety and interest to your cat’s diet. However, you must be prepared for the occasional rejection. Cats can be picky about what they eat, so your feline friend may not always be tempted by the latest treats.
Always serve in small portions, and it’s okay if your cat’s fresh treat isn’t actually frozen. After all, you don’t want to give them a brain freeze.
Feed your cat ice cubes
Many cats are absolutely fascinated by plain old ice cubes, no flavoring needed. The temperature difference is stimulating and gives them something to focus on and even play with. In addition, licking an ice cube can promote good hydration.
It is a treat that you can give your cat every day if you wish.
Add a few ice cubes to your cat’s normal water bowl. If that sounds boring, consider freezing a larger ice cube using a plastic cup or small saucepan as a mold. Putting the ice cream on a plate or in a baking dish can reduce the mess, but don’t be surprised if your cat manages to free some ice cream anyway.
Frozen or refrigerated wet food
Another way to give your cat a stimulating treat is to use their regular wet food. If their food is particularly moist, you can freeze it as is. Pâté wet foods may also have a little water added so they can be reduced to a paste and then frozen in a pan.
Don’t add milk to your cat’s food to dilute it, even if she likes it. As mentioned earlier, cats are generally lactose intolerant and do not tolerate milk well in their diet.
If you must add milk, look for cat milk (which is either lactose-free or has the lactase enzyme added), or buy low-fat, low-sugar milk like goat’s milk from a specialty pet store. Even with this type of milk, limit your cat’s consumption to a small amount and only occasionally.
Other options for your cat
Other ice cream alternatives include:
- Unseasoned Frozen Bone Broth
- Ice cubes with hanging kibble or treats for cats
- Catnip Ice Cubes
In the end, no matter what treats you give your cat, remember that they should be treaty. These foods are not a substitute for good cat food and should only be a very small part of your cat’s overall diet.
You can enjoy your ice cream, but give your cats something just for them!