Can Cats Eat Ice Cream? - Cat Kingpin
can cats eat ice cream

Can Cats Eat Ice Cream?

Cats feel the heat just we like we do! And when the weather gets warm, lots of cat owners wonder about the best way to help their kitty beat the heat.

Many of you have probably been there: you’re sitting at the table, enjoying an ice cream cone, and your cat wanders over and gives you that look. They want some too!

While ice cream is a tasty (but not a particularly healthy) summer time treat, can cats eat ice cream?

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • Cats and Ice Cream – What You Need to Know
  • Can Cats Eat Ice Cream?
  • Can Cats Eat Vanilla Ice Cream?
  • Can Cats Eat Dog Ice Cream?
  • Can Kittens Eat Ice Cream?
  • Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Ice Cream
  • Alternatives to Ice Cream for Cats

Cats and Ice Cream, What You Need to Know

Ice cream is a well-liked dessert that can be found in hundreds of countries all around the world. From Italy to Iran, ice cream is popular all year around, but especially during the hot summer months!

Ice cream is made with a base of cream and milk and comes in hundreds and hundreds of different flavors (fruit, chocolate, vanilla, etc.), Because most ice cream is made from dairy, it’s not an ideal snack for your cat. Because cats are carnivores, their bodies are perfectly suited to eating a diet that is made up primarily of meat and they lack some of the digestive enzymes that process dairy.

While too much dairy can make your cat sick, a little taste now and again probably won’t hurt them. It’s usually okay to give your cat a lick or two of ice cream – that is, if you’re willing to share!  And if they really like sweets, here’s our advice on feeding cats Nutella.

Does your cat beg like this when you’re trying to enjoy a bit of ice cream?

Can Cats Eat Ice Cream?

Yes and no. While ice cream is unlikely to hurt your furry friend, you should exercise caution when sharing any type of “people food” with your cat. Here are some tips on giving your cat a lick of ice cream safely:

  1. Only let your cat have a lick or two of ice cream. Too much is likely to give them an upset stomach! Never give it to your cat in their bowl, only give them a tiny taste.
  2. Avoid ice creams made from chocolate or ice cream with raisins, as both of these ingredients can be toxic to cats. A natural vanilla ice cream is probably the safest choice.
  3. Regular, full fat ice cream is your best bet. Avoid ice creams with artificial sweeteners because they can make your cat sick.
  4. Keep an eye on your cat after you let them have a taste of ice cream. Make sure they don’t show any signs of digestive problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea. If they do, you’ll know that ice cream doesn’t agree with them!

All of these cats may have overdone it with the ice cream….cats can get brain freeze too!

Can Cats Eat Vanilla Ice Cream?

Yes! In fact, if you have to give your cat ice cream, vanilla is probably the safest option. It has fewer flavorings, less artificial ingredients, and is one of the most neutral flavors of ice cream available. Opt for a natural brand –the fewer ingredients, the better!

Can Cats Eat Dog Ice Cream?

Dogs are huge ice cream lovers! Then again…dogs tend to love to eat everything, even if it’s not good for them. Thankfully for dog owners everywhere, many companies began manufacturing dog-friendly ice cream, which is usually made of pet-safe ingredients such as carob (which tastes like chocolate but won’t hurt dogs!), cream, yogurt, and peanut butter.

While cats are unlikely to feel sick after eating dog ice cream, there really isn’t a reason for them to try it. Because guess what? Cat ice cream exists too! While it may be harder to find, you can try your local pet store.

If you really want to give your cat dog ice cream, try a brand with limited ingredients, preferably with ingredients that you can pronounce! Vanilla dog ice cream is always a good choice. You can also try more unusual flavors that may really appeal to your cat’s love of meat, such as maple bacon dog ice cream!

Can Kittens Eat Ice Cream?

It’s not a good idea to give your kitten ice cream. While a lick or two is unlikely to hurt them, you want to make sure that every calorie your kitten consumes is a good one. Because kittens are still growing, its best for them to eat a diet of high-quality kitten food.

Look for brands without corn and with meat listed as the first few ingredients. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dry Kitten Food has health carbohydrates, and the first three ingredients are deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. With all that tasty meat, your kitten won’t even miss the ice cream!

Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Ice Cream

While ice cream has calcium (which is what we tell ourselves when we eat half a pint in one sitting), but cats get all the calcium they need from their food. The truth is, there isn’t much benefit to feeding your cat a little bit of ice cream. In fact, the sugar and diary may make your cat feel ill if given to them in large quantities.

Although there are no real health benefits, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea to give your cat an ice cream treat! Sharing a bit of your ice cream with your cat will likely make them happy, and it will strengthen the bond between you. Be careful not to overdo it, though!

Alternatives to Ice Cream for Cats

If you aren’t comfortable giving your cat human ice cream, and you can’t find kitty ice cream (it’s not as common as dog ice cream) there are plenty of alternatives.

One choice is to make the ice cream yourself! There are plenty of online tutorials that provide recipes and directions for pet ice cream.

If you are interested in giving your cat ice cream to try and help them stay cool in the summer, there are plenty of healthier ways to do that!

You can:

  1. Put some ice in your cats drinking water
  2. Leave the AC on for them (and for yourself!)
  3. Try an elevated pet bed (air passing underneath the bed will help keep it cool)
  4. Offer your cat bits of frozen meat, like chicken or even frozen sardines!

These cats have found a creative way to beat the heat!

So, Can Cats Eat Ice Cream?

While ice cream is unlikely to do your cat any harm, it’s not actually good for your cat’s health. A lick now and again probably won’t hurt, but always be sure to consult your vet before giving any ice cream to your cat. Here are a few final reminders:

  1. Avoid low fat or sugar ice cream, as they usually have additives that aren’t good for your cat.
  2. Natural vanilla ice cream is your best bet, as it’s likely to have the simplest ingredients.
  3. Only give your cat t he tiniest bit of ice cream! A few licks are enough!
  4. Try some pet-friendly alternatives, such as dog ice cream.
  5. Monitor your cat for any signs that the ice cream doesn’t agree with them, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Does your cat scream for ice cream? Have you tried any homemade recipes to satisfy your cat’s sweet tooth? We want to hear all about it in the comments!

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Amanda K.

After moving to New York City from Rome, Italy, I began working in the nonprofit world. Despite my day job, my passion has always been animals, especially dogs and cats, and writing. What better way to combine the two? I've been a pet owner for 15 years, and my menagerie includes dogs, cats, hamsters and the occasional hermit crab. My beloved cat, Mozart, who I found as a newborn kitten, sparked my love for felines and is now nearly 15 years old. I am an enthusiastic volunteer at the local ASPCA, where I enjoy spending time with the cats and cleaning up after the dogs. I've been writing about pet ownership and care for the past five years.

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