Can Cats Eat Ice Cream? This is the Answer

Ice cream should be one of the more popular foods for humans. It is soft, cold, and sweet. But does that make it a safe food for cats? Can cats eat ice cream?

"This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links."

Cats can eat ice cream, but…

Most veterinarians agree that cats should not be often fed with ice cream. It might be OK to intermittently give your cat ice cream, but it never should be a regular part of her diet.

This popular dessert, after all, contains milk. And most cats are lactose intolerant— meaning they cannot digest lactose due to the lack of lactase in their bodies. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose, the natural sugar found in milk, into individual sugar components.

When a cat drinks milk, or eats food that contains milk such as ice cream, the lactose is undigested. It then goes through the intestinal tract and draws water. Bacteria present in the colon could ferment the undigested sugar, creating fatty acids.

This, then, results to vomiting and an upset stomach. It can also lead to diarrhea, which usually happens 8 to 12 hours after the cat digested a dairy product.

Diarrhea in cats has the following symptoms:

  • Loose, frequent stools
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Passage of blood in stool

There are some cats that can tolerate food that contains milk such as ice cream or cheese. But this doesn’t mean that you should still insist on giving your feline pal ice cream or any dairy product because she doesn’t really need it.

Cats don’t get any nutrients from eating eat ice cream, cheese and other foods that have milk as a main ingredient.

Ice cream can cause brain freeze in cats

Anyway, have you seen these viral video of a cat being fed with ice cream? This has gained more than 2 million views, and became viral sometime last year.

It showed a cat’s reaction to eating ice cream. The cat appeared stunned, apparently experiencing a brain freeze. We all know that as we experience it whenever we eat ice cream, drink Slurpee or consume similar cold drinks.

Most people who saw this found it funny and cute. But veterinarians like Dr. Zachary Glantz says there’s nothing to laugh at the video, especially since the cat could have experienced discomfort after eating the ice cream.

As reported by Pet MD, Glantz says that a cat experiencing brain freeze may be feeling some pain which isn’t something you would laugh at.

Glantz believes that sensitive nerve endings in the cat’s teeth caused by periodontal disease could explain why the feline looked stunned. Periodontal disease is very common in cats.

Another veterinarian, Dr. Christopher Gaylord, was quoted by Pet MD as saying that brain freeze is usually an unpleasant experience for cats. Unlike humans who can understand what causes a brain freeze, cats could be shocked that eating food could suddenly cause them pain.

Gaylord even goes to the extent of advising cat owners against giving ice cream to their pets. He says that ice cream is too fatty, and cats sensitive to fatty foods could suffer from pancreatitis.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include:

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of energy
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Changes in breathing pattern

Ice cream as an occasional treat

There are some veterinarians, though, who say that ice cream may be given to cats but only as an occasional treat.

Veterinarian Sara Tamas of Nashville Cat Clinic was quoted as saying in a Washington Post report that she would usually allow her cat to eat ice cream. She insists that a few licks won’t hurt although she admits that it can add up to the cat’s calorie intake.

Another veterinarian, Dr. Eric Barchas, says he has never heard or seen a cat who got sick after being fed with small amounts of ice cream.

If you are to give ice cream as an occasional treat, keep in mind that it should not exceed 10% percent of your cat’s daily diet. This applies to treats of all types from tuna, cheese, meat, and other human foods.

Some human foods that are considered ‘safe’ for cat treats are:

  • Whole grains
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Veggies
  • Chicken
  • Cantaloupe
  • Bananas

The rest of your cat’s diet, or 90%, should come from a nutritionally complete cat food.


We all love ice cream, but this doesn’t mean that we should be sharing this popular treat to our cats from time to time. If you feed your cat ice cream you’re not only increasing her calorie intake. You’re also increasing her risks of health problems.

Giving it as an occasional treat may be fine, but think about it—the risks of giving it far outweigh the benefits.

So would you give your cat ice cream the next time you eat one? I suggest