Can Cats Eat Ice Cream?

Every time I curl up on the couch with my big bucket of ice cream, I can’t help it but notice this look of longing that my cat has in her eyes. It’s like she knows what I am eating is heavenly and she would just love even just a bit. But can cats eat ice cream?

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Like any cat owner and lover, you must have the same thought on whether or not to give your cat ice-cream. After all, if it tastes great to you, there is a fair chance that your cat will love it too right?

The Story of Cats and Milk

The truth is, cats have a long history with milk that dates back to the 20th century. Back then, the processed cat food that we know now did not exist. Instead, cat owners would dip brown bread in milk to give to cats for breakfast. In the evening, the cats would get small bits of milk. It is a far cry from the quality cat food that we have now but it got the cats then going.

Around the 1930’s there was a major overhaul in the diet of cats which recommended the exclusion of bread and milk from the cat’s diet. Raw meat became the primary food for most cats. Currently, we rely on processed foods that have a careful balance of nutrients that are essential to the cat’s well-being.

Nonetheless, even with all the dietary changes, you might still notice your cat having some very keen interest on milk. Typically because dairy is the primary product on ice cream, most owners tend to think that if cats are happy lapping up milk, they will more than gladly take on some ice-cream. But is it okay for the cat to gorge on ice cream?

Cats and Ice Cream

It is important to note straight off the bat that your cat will not die or get seriously ill from eating small amounts of ice cream. As for the question of can cats eat ice cream, they can and they will show some interest in it but, there are plenty of other factors that you should be aware of prior to allowing your cat to eat ice cream.

Ice cream contains artificial sweeteners (even for the sugar free variety) some of which (like xylitol) are toxic to dogs but, they don’t have any significant effects on fur balls.

If you wondering can cats eat ice cream because of how great it tastes, you’re wrong. Cats don’t have sweet taste receptors in their tongue and cannot taste all that sugar in ice cream. This does not mean the cat will avoid the taste. It only means they don’t respond to it.

Why do Cats Love Ice Cream?

If you’re observant about your cat, you notice that they seem to have an affinity for ice cream. They seem to like it but, it is not about the sugar. The affair between cats and ice cream is in the ingredients.

You will also notice that cats love whole milk but they always seem to give skimmed or fat free milk the blind eye. They don’t even seem to look interested in frozen yoghurt despite it being another human favourite. So, what is it with cats and ice cream?

Cats are attracted by products that have amounts of carbohydrates and fat content. Ice cream falls squarely in this range and so does whole milk.  Even though there are other foods that also have high fat and carbohydrate concentration, cats are used to the consistency of milk hence the preference.

Is Ice Cream Bad for Cats?

Cat’s love ice cream for sure. But, it is not everything you love that is good for you. The same case applies to cats. Your care for your cat extends to more than just what it likes but also what is good for her.

In large quantities, ice cream can be bad for your cat. But, you can give him small amounts of ice cream as a treat very rarely. If too much of the ice cream is given to the cat or little amounts given frequently, there is a fair chance that your cat is going to end up having quite a number of problems. The biggest of them is usually diarrhoea because cats are not able to process lactose very well.

Why are Cats not able to Process Lactose?

Ever since we were kids, cats and milk looked like a match made in heaven. Even as adults, you must have come across quite a number of different images and videos of a kitten happily lapping at a bowl of milk. It seems unthinkable that whole milk would actually be of any harm to the cat.

But, it is. Like their owners, cats also have a lactose intolerance problem. The only difference is, in cats, the problem is more wide spread.

When kittens are young, their bodies are engineered to process milk that is produced by momma cat. At this age, they have plenty of lactase enzymes in their bodies. As they grow up, the production of the enzyme declines as the body prepares to digest other types of proteins.

This means that most cats in their adult age don’t have enough lactase enzymes to process and digest the lactose that is found in milk and in ice cream. This is why, when fed on too much of dairy products some cats will start to diarrhoea. However, not all cats have this problem. There are some cats that don’t have the lactose intolerance problem and have more lactase enzyme than others.

Will Ice Cream Upset my Cat’s Stomach?

Because cats are not able to comprehensively digest lactose, there will be some discomfort in your cat’s tummy. Unlike other compounds, the ice cream that is undigested will remain in fluid form. When it gets in touch with the digestive juices in the cat’s stomach, some of it curdles up and can lead to gas and discomfort for the cat.

The liquid ice cream is passed out with other waste and without a doubt, your cat will have a diarrhoea situation.

Does Ice Cream Pose any Nutritional Problems to the Cat?

There is a difference between eating just about anything and eating things that are vital to your health. One reason why you should not feed ice cream to your cat is because it takes up room in the cat’s stomach and keeps it from eating more nutritious foods that have more benefits to the cat.

On the question can cats eat ice cream frequently? The answer is, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies because they are not able to eat foods that contain taurine, which is very prominent in foods like raw meat. If the cat has malnutrition, you might have to put her on supplements to help get her back in shape.

What Flavours of Ice Cream are Safe for the Cat?

If you’re keen on giving your cat ice cream as a treat, then it would be okay to wonder which flavour would be best for the cat. Ideally, vanilla is a great place to start. To curb the diarrhoea, you might also want to consider giving the cat ice cream made from goat milk since it has different composition.

Strawberry flavour will probably not be any better. Strawberries are non-toxic and are safe for the cat but they will not add any nutritional value to the cat. However, additives like chocolate should not be anywhere close to your cat. Chocolate has a variety of compounds that cannot be processes by the cat and when they build up, they can end up being toxic.

Ice cream does not have any nutritional value and might not be harmful to your cat but as a general rule of thumb, it is better to stay away from it. Instead, you can try this GUND Pusheen Snackable Ice Cream Plush Stuffed Animal for your cat. There are no risks and it will not give your cat a runny stomach but she will have plenty of fun and exercise while playing with it.


There is no question that you can feed your cat some ice cream. However, while doing this, you need to keep a close eye on the amount of ice cream you feed the cat and also for any signs of diarrhoea.

Rebecca Welters

Yes, I am that weird cat lady with 200 cats and live in the darkest corner of the city where no one dares to go! Joking! But I am a cat lover and have 2 Ragdoll cats called Toby, he's 3 years old and Dory, she's 8 years old. I'm 36 years old and live in the quiet town of Washington.

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