Can Cats Eat Ice Cream? Will She Get a Brain Freeze?
The entertainment wiki known as “TV Tropes” features a trope called “Artistic License- Animal Care”. The page lists all the instances in fiction where the characters well meaningfully do something that would realistically harm the animal in their care and said animal is none the worse for wear. The page image is a still from the Disney film Oliver And Company showing Jenny feeding an ice cream cone to the eponymous Oliver, who is an orange tabby kitten. The caption for this image reads “In case you didn’t know, ice cream is bad for a cat’s digestive system.”
It would be particularly bad for a little kitten like Oliver. Oliver sure seems happy with his treat, as you would think any cat eating ice cream would be. In the film, he lives happily ever after as Jenny’s beloved pet but in reality, ice cream would not make a cat very happy in the long run.
Can cats eat ice cream?
If you are asking “Can cats have ice cream?” the answer is pretty much “no”. While a tiny lick or two might not kill her, the lactic acid can cause gas, stomach aches and diarrhea. If your cat seems drawn to ice cream, it is probably the fat and carbohydrate content that are beckoning her.
Is Ice Cream Bad For Cats?
Ice cream is bad for cats for many reasons. Not only are cats lactose intolerant but sugar is not very good for them. Cats do not like cold things as much as you think they would and they are susceptible to brain freeze.
Ice Cream Can Cause Brain Freeze In Cats
Purposely trying to give a cat a brain freeze is needlessly cruel. Do not do this, no matter how many hits you would get on YouTube. The phenomenon known as “brain freeze” is when cold temperatures cause a quick change in the diameter of the anterior cerebral artery. This is one of the arteries that allow blood to flow to the brain.
The brain in of itself has no pain receptors, so the pain signal may be emanating from the meninges, a protective covering of the brain. A cat’s nervous system is not very different from a human’s, just in smaller scale. While a brain freeze may not kill your cat, it is a pain she can do without.
Cats hate the cold
The sci-fi manga Reality Check features a cat named Catreece who gets a humanoid form in cyberspace. While in cyberspace, Catreece develops a love of snow cones and has to be told making a pouty face won’t stop one from melting. Maybe this would be true for Catreece’s cyber persona, but not in reality.
The truth is felines have a more elevated internal temperature than humans so they get cold faster. Newborn kittens cannot even create their own body heat and can easily freeze to death. Even as adults, cats are drawn to the warmest spot in the house.
Cats are lactose intolerant
What this means is that cats lack sufficient amounts of the lactase enzyme needed to digest the lactose found in the milk. Do keep in mind, some cats may have more of these enzyme than others. You may give her the tiniest bit and observe to see if this gives her a bad reaction. Once your cat no longer has any real need to consume milk she will lose the ability to digest it.
On a good day, the undigested lactose will just give her the Hershey squirts. On a bad day, it will curdle up along with all the other acids in her body and cause her severe discomfort.
Can Kittens have ice cream?
Sorry, Oliver! No ice cream for you. While it is true that kittens do produce a good amount of the lactase enzyme when they are very young, they rapidly outgrow it. As your kitten moves on to eating solid foods, she needs more enzymes that will help her digest proteins.
What Kind of Ice Cream Can I Give?
Can cats eat chocolate ice cream
The one saving grace of the ice cream cone scene in Oliver and Company is that at least it was a strawberry cone and not chocolate. While strawberries add little to no nutritional value to a cat’s diet, they are at least nontoxic.
Chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid compound that is fatally toxic for most animals including cats. You can read more here about it.
A lethal dose of theobromine in a cat is one hundred to two hundred milligrams per kilogram. As merely an ounce of cocoa powder can contain as much as eight hundred milligrams of theobromine, you can see why even a small amount of chocolate ice cream can be bad for a cat.
Can cats eat vanilla ice cream
If your cat just has to have ice cream, vanilla might be best. A good way to give your cat ice cream without worrying about a particularly foul litter box is to use ice cream made of goat’s milk. Goat’s milk does not require pasteurization. What this means is that some of the natural enzymes are left within the fluid. In fact, some of those enzymes are the sort that aids in the digestion of the lactose.
If you make your own, just cut back a bit on the sugar. Sugar free sweeteners such as xylitol are harmless to cats, but not dogs.
As alcohol and raisins are two things that should also be off your cat’s menu, rum raisin is right out. Anything flavored with coffee is likewise out. Green tea is a popular ice cream flavor in some Asian countries. While it has less caffeine than black tea, it has more than your cat needs. You shouldn’t eat anything with raw eggs and neither should your cat.
If you make your own ice cream and would like to add eggs for a more custard-like consistency, beat them well and cook them with milk until it simmers. Let it cool a bit and add to the mixture.
- Cat Temperature – Normal Range, Fever & More By Julia Wilson
- Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. (2013, May 22). Neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works. ScienceDaily
- Li, X., Li, W., Wang, H., Bayley, D. L., Cao, J., Reed, D. R., Bachmanov, A. A., Huang, L., Legrand-Defretin, V., Beauchamp, G. K., … Brand, J. G. (2006). Cats lack a sweet taste receptor. The Journal of nutrition, 136(7 Suppl), 1932S-1934S.
- High Blood Sugar in Cats by Dr. Callum Turner, DVM at wagwalking.com