Updated: August 8, 2022 by Kristen Chapple
We love some cold treats during a hot summer day and as cats are curious to try out new things you might ask yourself the question: can cats eat ice cream? You might have watched an online video of a cat getting “brain freeze” from ice cream and thus wondering about the problems with such a treat is quite a valid concern.
A regular ice cream has about 10 to 16 percent milk fat, 9 to 12% milk solids, some stabilizers and emulsifiers, water in a quantity of over 50% and sweeteners like sugar, sucrose or corn syrup at a percentage of somewhere between 12 and 16.
Water won’t harm the pet but low temperatures can lead to some problems like a sore throat. The sweeteners aren’t harmful if they aren’t absorbed in high quantities but they are a cause for obesity and diabetes so keep that in mind.
The thing is that as cats are obligate carnivores they cannot even taste the sweetness of ice cream so it will have quite a different taste to them compared to what we experience. You might think they like it but many cat owners mistake curiosity for pleasure.
Stabilizers and emulsifiers vary a lot so we couldn’t cover them all here, but they usually aren’t very natural so they can lead to some problems. The biggest concern for cats is milk and dairy products in general. Adult cats are usually lactose intolerant so eating milk in any form will probably lead to symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, vomiting or diarrhea and those are just the symptoms that happen soon but lactose can also have lasting negative effects.
Obviously we don’t eat simple ice cream, we always put something extra in it to make it taste better and this is quite important when trying to feed some to your pet. Chocolate-flavored ice cream is very common and this contains theobromine from cocoa which is highly toxic for your pet. If they eat just a bit it will probably get them intoxicated but in larger quantities, it will kill your cat so don’t joke around with chocolate.
Baby cats don’t have the same problems with milk that adult cats do as they require their mother’s milk to survive in the first two months. During this period they should get all the vital nutrients required from the milk and thus they shouldn’t eat anything else. Ice cream is definitely a bad idea as cow’s milk isn’t the same and it will lead to indigestion.
It isn’t recommended. There are many possible problems and no benefits at all.