Brace yourself; summer is here! It’s getting hot outside, and it’s that time of the year where ice cream becomes the purrfect treat. It’s sweet, creamy, and cold, just what you need to relax and enjoy this warm breeze blowing on your skin. As you close your eyes and enjoy this simple pleasure, your little beast climbs on your knees and decides to give it a try. Yep, that’s right; your cat is eating ice cream! He is not the first one to do that, and he won’t be the last, but is that good for him? Can cats eat ice cream?
Ice cream: Treat or threat? Let’s see what ice cream does to your cat so you can decide whether to give him some…or not.
What Is Ice Cream Made Of?
Definition of a standard quality ice cream by Goff, H. Douglas in “Ice Cream Ingredients”; Dairy Science and Technology Education Series. University of Guelph.
- Milk fat: 10-16%
- Milk solids (non-fat): 9-12%
- Sweeteners: sugar, cane sugar, sucrose, corn syrup, beet sugar, etc., (12-16%)
- Stabilizers and emulsifiers: 0.2-0.5%
- Water: 55-64%
We can already eliminate water as being a threat to kitties, as we all know, it is not what’s going to hurt our cats. On the other hand, one needs to be careful when looking at the rest of the ingredients.
Let’s start with sweeteners. Most of them are “ok” or at least not known to be harmful for cats or other pets if they are not absorbed in high quantities.*
However, and this is a big deal, one sweetener, sometimes found in ice cream, is very suspicious. It has been proved to be very dangerous for dogs. Its name is xylitol. No studies have been conducted on its consequences for cats, but we’d rather be safe than sorry. If you see this barbaric name on the package, do not give it to your cat.
*Although most sweeteners are not dangerous for your cat, know that too much sugar can in fact harm your cat. Always be conscious that poor-quality cat food or high-sugar diets can lead to serious health problems (obesity, diabetes).
Stabilizers and Emulsifiers
Stabilizers are used to allow food ingredients that do not mix well, to remain in a homogeneous state after blending. Some examples of important stabilizers are agar, cellulose, guar gum, pectin, starch, or xantham gum.
Emulsifiers act as an interface between the conflicting components of food like water and oil. Their role is seen as essential for ice cream manufacturers, but it may not be that good for your cat (and for you).
Even though they are present in such low quantities, we recommend not to play with fire when feeding the beast. Depending on the type of ice cream you eat, the stabilizers and emulsifiers used may be less natural. Here at Fluffy Kitty, we believe that natural is always better!
Milk: Dairy Products
I kept the most controversial ingredient for the end: Milk. Most people believe that milk and cats go together like a horse and carriage. Well, it’s not that simple. To know this better, let’s first understand why cats like milk.
Why Cats Like Milk?
By nature, cats love to drink milk as it reminds them of their mother’s milk. If you don’t believe this, try placing two bowls in front of the cat; one of milk and the other of water. She will always choose the milk bowl.
Is Milk Good for Your Cat?
Sure, cats love that delicious taste, but it is not always a good idea to give them milk. Indeed, lots of our fluffy friends cannot digest milk without getting sick!
Yes, you heard that right, lots of cats become lactose intolerant as they grow up.
The number of enzymes that digest lactose usually decreases in their body after weaning, making them not equipped to digest milk any more. This can cause bloating, flatulence, vomiting, diarrhea, or, more generally, upset stomach. Not only is this painful for your cat, but it’s also dangerous in the long run.
How to know if your cat is lactose intolerant?
Usually, when given a spoon full of milk, the effect of lactose intolerance will come after 6 to 12 hours. If nothing has happened in that time-lapse, you’ve got a winner! Otherwise, you could potentially have a dirty stain somewhere in the house.
Not all cats are lactose intolerant!
It’s important to know that not every cat has a problem with milk. Check this out!
So why do we insist so wrong on this lactose intolerance issue? Simply because most cats develop some sort of intolerance problems and that there is nothing in milk that a proper diet will not provide.
So you can try to give your cat milk, but make sure to check that it does not upset his little belly. In the long run, more serious problems could occur. If you could save your buddy some trouble, wouldn’t you like to do so as soon as possible?
Does the Ice Cream Flavor Matter?
It depends on the flavor of your ice-cream. Some flavors don’t affect the health of felines, while some might lead to severe health consequences. So it is best to know which flavor is right for your kitty before offering the ice cream treat.
Can Cats Eat Strawberry Flavor Icecream?
It is not-advised to offer strawberry flavor ice-cream to your cat. The reason being it is high in sugar, have zero nutrition value for felines, and may lead to gastrointestinal upset.
Can Cats Eat Vanilla Flavor Icecream?
Vanilla is a good choice when it comes to deciding the ice-cream flavor of your kitty. To stay on the safe side, you can prepare the ice-cream at home and keep the following points in mind:
- Use goat milk as it doesn’t require pasteurization and contains enzymes, thereby aiding in digestion of lactose.
- Reduce the amount of sugar else; it might result in diarrhea or related stomach problem.
Can Cats Eat Chocolate Flavor Icecream?
One of our friends recently asked us, “Can cats eat chocolate ice cream?” The answer is no! Pure and simple. Not only is ice cream controversial, as mentioned earlier, but if you add chocolate to the mix, it becomes deadly! Chocolate contains cocoa, which contains theobromine, a very powerful and toxic substance for your cat. Depending on the amount ingested and the metabolism of your cat, symptoms can vary from simple diarrhea to death.
That being said, most commercial chocolate ice cream does not contain a substantial amount of cocoa, but it’s still enough to disturb your cat’s fragile body balance.
Final Thoughts: Can Cats Eat Ice Cream?
Cats do not gain anything nutritionally from eating ice cream that is not already present in a well-balanced food made for cats. The potential problems outweigh the potential benefits!
Our recommendation: Stay away from ice cream and find another healthier type of treat!
There are so many good things you can do for your cat that does not involve playing the sorcerer’s apprentice with your best friend. Find him a new toy, get him some cool furniture, improve his diet, and feed him with the healthiest food out there.