Categories: Video

Is it okay to give a cat ice cream?

It is not okay to give a cat ice cream. There are several reasons. Ice cream is attractive to domestic cats because it contains fat. However, they do not realise that it is very cold. When they eat it they are shocked by the food’s temperature which results in the reaction that we see on social media. People describe it as “brain freeze”. An amusing term reflecting the fact that a lot of people find the reaction amusing.

This is why cat owners video their cat eating ice cream. They are seeking the usual social media success through acquiring thousands of views of their videos. The Holy Grail of video makers on social media is to acquire millions of views which raises the profile of the person creating the videos. It’s a commercial activity at the expense of their domestic cat.

Cat brain freeze after eating ice cream

Without being too prudish, this is at least slightly immoral because you shouldn’t try and gain personal success for yourself on the basis that your cat has to suffer even in a minor way.

For the sake of clarity, the reason why domestic cats make the face that they do when the eat ice cream is because they feel discomfort. You could go further and say that they feel pain. Everybody has at one time or another swallowed something very cold and suffered the discomfort that it creates in their digestive tract. Domestic cats feel the same thing.

I don’t want to preach but in my view it is not okay to give a cat ice cream. It is also tricking a cat into believing that they are going to eat something at room temperature. That is unkind. Domestic cats are simply not in tune with the idea that foods can be so cold because they are programmed to eat mice at body temperatures. People are at least aware of what they are about to eat. They know ice cream is cold. They are prepared for it. They want it to be cold.

But the domestic cat thinks that it is going to be warm. All the more reason why they pull the face that they do. We should not be amused by it if we are really concerned about domestic cat welfare.

Cat brain freeze on eating ice cream. Mouth open, head and body still. Temporary pain.

You will find on the Internet that there are two camps on this subject. There are those who are concerned about social media success and therefore dismiss criticism. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are people who are concerned about animal welfare. They see the reality of what is going on and criticise video makers who depend upon mild abuse of animals in order to achieve success.

This happened quite recently. An 11 second video on twitter acquired 400,000 views. A success but there was a backlash. It took a very small amount of ice cream for the cat to be in discomfort. Some viewers even referred to the video as animal cruelty. And others did not find it amusing. They were concerned about the cat.

Cat brain freeze. Screenshot.

I can’t believe how many in the comments have been desensitised to the pain and suffering of animals and each other, some humans are so disgusting

That is the sort of comment that animal advocates will write in response to this sort of video. And…

Poor thing. I did not enjoy that experience.

I don’t even think it’s funny, I feel like a debbie downer also but that looks like it hurt the poor cat.

Cat brain freeze. Screenshot.

I have a sense that people are becoming more sensitive towards animal welfare and more aware of the abuse of animals. This is because of the Internet which is educational. It is also a forum for animal abuse to varying degrees. A lack of sensitivity towards animal welfare is a symptom of poor education and crude behaviour. Ultimately it does come down to education. Through ignorance people abuse animals. There is a lot of ignorance in the world.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • I've actually been guilty of letting my cats have a few licks of ice cream, but only a few. They get from the start that it's cold, but they could easily eat too much, causing unforseen pain via the throat or in their teeth. Remember cats' teeth are usually not in good shape and could easily suffer greatly from something that cold, despite that they like the taste. Recall your own experiences with tooth aches and sensitivity and you would never do that to another living thing on purpose. Also, regular ice cream has lactose too, which grown cats cannot digest and causes them to suffer gas. I sometimes give my cats a little lactose-free 2% fat milk, which they love, but again not much. It's an occasional treat, not to spoil their dinner either. The thing with causing cats to suffer to get internet hits is one of the worst things about it and us.

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