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The quick answer: Not recommended. A small amount of ice cream likely won’t make your cat sick, but larger amounts can cause tummy issues, and ice cream offers no nutritional benefits to a cat.
Ice cream consists mostly of fat and carbohydrates. As obligate carnivores, cats receive no nutritional benefit from the sugar and dairy in ice cream. You may recall stories, movies, or TV shows featuring cats being served a dish of milk. However, it is a widespread myth that cats should drink milk. In fact, milk is not very good for cats and can cause tummy troubles.
Though you may be drawn to the sweet flavor of ice cream, research indicates that cats do not have any sweet taste receptors and are not drawn to sweet foods, so they really aren’t “missing out” if you keep your ice cream to yourself.
Hazards of Ice Cream for Cats
With memories of their mother’s milk and her comforting protection, cats might be attracted to milk or ice cream that has high milk fat content. But adult cats lack the enzyme to digest lactose, which means if they eat ice cream, they will face an upset tummy and possibly diarrhea. Consuming ice cream or other junk foods can also cause your kitty to turn her nose at her dinner because she’s full or because she prefers the fatty allure of dairy products. Missing out on dinner will deprive your cat of the nutrition she needs, which can be dangerous if this is a regular occurrence.
Sugar is never good for cats, and sugar-free ice cream could contain a sweetener called xylitol which is downright toxic to cats. Your cat should never eat chocolate ice cream or any ice cream that contains chocolate pieces because chocolate is also toxic to cats.
Additionally, eating such a cold treat like ice cream can give your cat brain freeze. It may be entertaining to watch YouTube videos of cats getting brain freeze, but as we all know, that cold headache is quite unpleasant. It’s best to keep your kitty safe and happy by preventing this kind of pain.