Table of Contents
In movies, especially cartoon movies, that feature cats as main characters, cats are usually given a bowl of milk or a bit of cream as a treat.
As youngsters, we’re taught that giving cats milk and other dairy products is normal. The cats always seem to love it! However, like many things from our childhoods, giving your cat dairy is, in most cases, not as good as we thought it was.
Humans love whipped cream on top of our lattes, our hot chocolates, our pies, and of course, on our ice cream! There are plenty of foods out there that are safe for your cat, but many people wonder if cats can eat dairy products, especially whipped cream since it’s such a quick treat.
Let us answer the question: Can cats eat whipped cream?
Our best answer to this question is that, yes cats can have whipped cream. However, most cats should not have any dairy as they are lactose intolerant. While cats can have a few tablespoons of whipped cream a week, they shouldn’t have more than that.
If you get a pup cup or a kitty cup occasionally, this is probably also okay. However, pay attention to how your kitty reacts. Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean it will make them feel good.
Is Whipped Cream Safe for Cats?
If you’re after a quick answer to the question “Can cats eat whipped cream?” here is the answer: yes. Cats can technically eat anything they wish and many love the deliciously rich and buttery taste of cream.
However, a better question that owners should be asking is this: Is whipped cream safe for cats? In the grand scheme of things, whipped cream is generally safe for cats to eat. It doesn’t contain anything that will cause a severely upset stomach and can usually be handled pretty well by our furry friends. Plus, they love the creamy taste!
However, whipped cream isn’t exactly safe. Although feeding cream occasionally as a treat won’t cause any major damage, cats are carnivores, and the majority of their diet should consist of meat. As such, whipped cream should only be given to cats as a one-off in moderation and as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Why Shouldn’t Cats Eat Whipped Cream?
Although whipped cream is okay to feed your cat in moderation, it is far from a healthy or wise option. In fact, it is bad for cats for all the following reasons:
- Whipped cream contains lactose, which cats can’t process.
- It also contains sugar, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners that could alter your cat’s blood sugar, making it difficult for cats with diabetes.
- The sugar and fat content of whipped cream can cause excessive weight gain and obesity.
- There are also other ingredients in whipped cream that cats shouldn’t have as they are carcinogenic or potentially harmful.
Here is a look at all the reasons why you shouldn’t give your cat whipped cream in a little more detail…
1. Whipped Cream Contains Lactose
Whipped cream is made from cream, which is a thicker substance in milk that’s eventually separated from milk. If you buy whole milk, you might see some thicker, slightly darker material at the top. This is cream! Though most cream is separated to be sold alone.
Therefore cream, like milk and other dairy products, has lactose in it.
Lactose is the main carbohydrate in whipped cream and all other dairy products. However, unlike simple sugars such as glucose, our bodies need to use a specific enzyme called lactase to break down lactose. Unfortunately, most cats are unable to produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which means they cannot digest dairy. When a person or animal is unable to digest dairy, this is known as being lactose intolerant.
Almost all adult cats are lactose intolerant as their natural diet does not include any dairy products. As such, their bodies stop producing the enzyme lactase as they don’t need it. Therefore, when lactose intolerant cats have lactose, they will likely have digestive issues that follow. This is because the lactose cannot be broken down by their body and will accumulate in the stomach. Here, the lactose will then start to ferment, leading to bloating, an upset stomach, and diarrhea.
Interestingly, kittens are not lactose intolerant. Why? Well, when kittens are little, they only drink milk from their mother. This milk – as all milk products do – contains the carbohydrate lactose. Kittens, therefore, need the enzyme lactase and so their bodies produce it. This enables them to digest their mother’s milk.
However, as the kittens get older, they lose the need for lactase because they wean off of the milk. In the wild, cats don’t typically have access to dairy, so there would be no need for their bodies to produce lactase. This means young cats are not inherently lactose intolerant, but as they get older, they will become intolerant to lactose. This is just like with people and many other animals.
As most adult cats do suffer from lactose intolerance, it is clear to see why feeding them whipped cream might not be a smart idea. If fed whipped cream in excess, it could cause a whole host of tummy troubles!
2. Whipped Cream Has a High Sugar Content
In addition to the cream itself, there are other ingredients in whipped cream that might not be good for your cat.
In most recipes, a lot of sugar will be added to the cream to make it taste sweeter and more delicious. Like cream, cats can eat sugar, but should they? The answer here is also no. And the reason for this all boils down to a cat’s natural diet.
As humans, we crave sugar. It makes up a huge part of our diet and we rely on sugars and carbohydrates as an immediate source of energy. This is why sugar tastes so good to us – when we eat foods high in sugar, signals are sent to our brain to tell us to eat more and more. For this feedback mechanism to work, we have two basic proteins on our tongues. These protein receptors bind to the sugar molecules which tells our brains that the food we are eating contains the nutrients we need.
However, cats are protein eaters, and so their brains never need to send signals about carbs. As such, their tongues don’t have these two protein receptors that detect sugar. In fact, this lack of receptors means cats can’t even taste sweet! And the reason cats can’t taste sugar is that their bodies don’t need it. Instead, cats benefit much more from other macronutrients such as protein and fat. Their bodies are designed to metabolize these compounds much more efficiently than carbs and give their bodies everything they need.
Therefore, cats that live off high sugar diets may struggle to remain healthy. Feeding whipped cream in replacement of nutrient-dense cat food can mean your cat isn’t getting the compounds they need from food to help them grow and develop. Eating lots of whipped cream can also cause cats’ blood sugar levels to spike, which is extremely dangerous for cats with diabetes.
So, rather than feeding whipped cream, a high-protein snack will be much better. And not only for their bodies – a food crammed with protein will also taste better to your cat as well!
3. Whipped Cream is High in Calories
Whipped cream is a very high-calorie food. As already mentioned, it contains a lot of sugar. Sugar – or even natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey – are calorically dense. This means that they contain a lot of calories in a little amount. For each spoonful of sugar, there are about 20 calories. And while this doesn’t seem like much, there is a lot of sugar in premade whipped cream you can buy in stores.
In addition to the sugar content, whipped cream is also a source of fat. In fact, around 76% of the macronutrients that make up whipped cream are fat. While sugar has 20 calories per tablespoon, fat has 9 calories per gram. A serving of heavy cream has 5 grams of fat per tablespoon, which means there are 45 calories from fat alone in heavy whipping cream. Therefore, while fat is not as bad for cats as sugar is, it still contains a lot of extra calories.
Combined, this amount of sugar and fat means that certain brands of ready-made whipped cream can contain around fifteen calories in two tablespoons. If you give your cat two tablespoons a day, that’s around 105 calories per week. When given as a treat, that’s 105 extra calories your cat would be getting. And that’s if you measured two tablespoons correctly.
Why do these extra calories matter? Well, if your cat is eating more calories per day than they are using up, this means they can easily gain weight or become obese. Obesity and being overweight can cause other problems including diabetes. Cats with diabetes are unable to regulate their blood sugar. This means that if your cat does have diabetes, he or she could have a spike in their blood sugar if they are fed too much whipped cream.
Diabetes is far from the only issue associated with obesity though. Carrying unhealthy amounts of excess weight can predispose cats to develop heart conditions, certain types of cancers, and high blood pressure. Arthritis is also more common in obese felines who will have a lower standard of life. Obese cats further develop an increased risk for urinary bladder stones, liver disease, and anesthetic complications. As you can see, excess fat hugely negatively impacts a cat’s health and quality of life. And steering clear of whipped cream can play its part in helping ensure your cat is within a healthy weight range.
While talking about the calorie content of whipped cream, it is important to discuss low-calorie versions. Several brands aim for healthier and lower-calorie versions of regular whipped cream that some owners think is safer to give to their pets. However, they can also contain harmful ingredients for your cat.
Some companies will choose to use artificial sweeteners, like xylitol. While xylitol dramatically reduces the number of calories found in a product, this artificial sweetener is toxic for dogs. Though it isn’t necessarily toxic for your cat, it can still cause blood sugar fluctuation, which won’t make your kitty feel very well.
4. Whipped Cream Contains Carrageenan
Next, let’s talk about carrageenan, another product found in most shop-bought whipped creams.
Carrageenan is an ingredient in foods that is meant to regulate their textures. It’s an emulsifier that keeps the whipped cream nice and smooth without separating. Up until recently, carrageenan has been an ingredient in pet foods. However, it’s a carcinogen, which means it can cause cancer in high amounts. Therefore, there has been a push to remove it from pet foods.
Though it’s being removed from pet foods, it’s still in the whipped cream you can buy from the store. Additionally, carrageenan has been shown to cause liver and colon inflammation and damage, which is something that your cat doesn’t need.
Carrageenan is also found in heavy whipping creams and many other dairy products. Though the studies are fairly new on carrageenan, it’s best to keep your kitty away from this carcinogen as much as possible.
5. Whipped Cream Contains Nitrous Oxide
Lastly, if you’re choosing to use a premade whipped cream that comes in a can, their ingredients also include nitrous oxide.
Nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas, and it is typically used as an anesthetic that relaxes you while you’re at the dentist’s office. However, it is also used as a propellant in whipped creams.
For humans, too much nitrous oxide can cause dizziness and impaired coordination and judgment. For cats, the effects are unknown but would likely cause similar reactions, and since cats are smaller, they would take less nitrous oxide for those symptoms to occur.
While it’s extremely unlikely that your cat would have enough nitrous oxide exposure from whipped cream, it’s important to consider that this is not a natural ingredient for your cat to have. If you want to keep your cat safe and healthy, nitrous oxide is just another reason to stay away from whipped cream.
What Other Dairy Foods Can Cats Not Have?
As you can see, whipped cream is probably best avoided, and the same is true for many other dairy products. Therefore, it is important to know the science behind why dairy and other ingredients in dairy products might not be the best for your cat.
Let’s take a look at some of the other foods cats shouldn’t have and the reasons why they shouldn’t have them.
1. Cow’s Milk
We’ll talk about milk first as it is very close to whipped cream. Since milk is generally cheaper than cream, this is a more common treat that people give their cats. However, it can cause many of the same issues.
In fact, most of the compounds that make whipped cream unsafe for cats are also present in milk. For example, milk contains lactose and may also contain emulsifiers like carrageenan, which we have already mentioned is harmful. These substances can cause stomach upset, bloating, and have potential carcinogenic properties.
With that being said, milk does tend to be a more pet-friendly option when compared to cream. Milk has far fewer calories in it than cream, especially skimmed or semi-skimmed cow’s milk. This can make it much easier to factor in these excess calories into your cat’s diet without as much risk of weight gain. Milk also doesn’t contain any added sugar or sweeteners. Therefore, if you’re choosing between cow’s milk and cream as a one-off treat, milk is the better option. Still, moderation here is key!
2. Milk Alternatives
In today’s world, many people don’t drink cow’s milk. Instead, they opt for milk alternatives such as soy, almond, oat, or coconut milk. This could be because people prefer the taste or perhaps suffer from lactose intolerance and want to try a dairy-free alternative.
As milk alternatives don’t contain lactose, they are easier to digest than cow’s milk or whipped cream. However, just as these products are lactose-free it doesn’t make them safe for cats! Remember, these are not natural ingredients for cats to be exposed to. In the wild, they don’t eat soy, almonds, oats, or any other ingredient used to make alternative kinds of milk. This means that when they encounter them, they might not have good reactions and digestive issues are still common.
In addition, just like cream, these kinds of milk will contain high levels of sugars and artificial sweeteners that can cause problems like diabetes, weight gain, and obesity. Besides, as these kinds of milk are not actually milk, they often use carrageenan or other emulsifiers to maintain the milk’s structure and make it palatable for humans. Again, these products are a no-no for cats and are best off being avoided.
Like other dairy products, cheese does contain a certain amount of lactose and so can cause stomach upset. However, cheese tends to have less lactose than milk or cream. Therefore, cats will need to eat a lot more cheese to experience digestive issues half as bad as those from drinking a little whipped cream.
Additionally, cheese contains much higher levels of fats and protein, both of which are parts of a cat’s natural diet. This makes it arguably a better option. With that being said, it’s not always the best thing to give your cat. In addition to the problems associated with being lactose intolerant, large amounts of cheese may cause constipation, just like it might in humans.
For humans, yogurt can aid digestion, especially if drinking probiotic yogurts that contain good gut bacteria. However, for cats, it can mean the opposite. Even though there are good live cultures in yogurt that are good for your cat’s tummy, there is still lactose which causes stomach discomfort and gastrointestinal issues.
Unless you are giving your cat a lactose-free version of yogurt, then you should stay away from this dairy product as well. Even these lactose-free varieties will contain other products such as soy. As already discussed, these are not part of a cat’s natural diet and so are best being avoided. Yogurt – be that lactose or lactose-free – are also high in sugar which can contribute to high blood sugar levels, weight gain, and diabetes.
Another common dairy product is butter. However, butter has one key difference from the other items of dairy on this list. Despite being made from milk or cream, much of the lactose is removed during the butter-making process. When processing milk, butter fats are separated from “buttermilk”. Buttermilk is the product that contains much of the lactose, meaning that butter has very little lactose in it.
From a lactose intolerant perspective, butter is okay! But that’s just one side of the story… Butter is pretty much made entirely from fat. It doesn’t contain much nutritional value otherwise, even though it is extremely tasty. As we have mentioned before, too much fat can cause your cat to gain weight because fat is calorically dense.
So, while cats can have butter and won’t get the usual symptoms that other dairy products would give them, they still shouldn’t have butter unless they are underweight and could use the burst of calories.
What Other Foods Should Cats Avoid?
Having gotten this far down the article, hopefully, you now understand why cats shouldn’t have dairy. However, dairy is far from the only food group that cats should avoid – there are plenty of other human foods that cats also shouldn’t have.
Let’s take a look at some lactose-free foods that pet parents may give their cats and the reasons why you shouldn’t.
At this point, it would be really shocking if an animal lover doesn’t know that cats and dogs shouldn’t have chocolate! Chocolate is typically sweet and contains sugars or artificial sweeteners we’ve already talked about.
While some chocolates contain dairy, which goes into all of the previous reasons cats shouldn’t have it, chocolate also contains other ingredients that will upset their tummies, but they can also be toxic.
Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid that for humans can be an antioxidant and have many potential benefits. However, for cats (and dogs), our furry friends can’t metabolize or process this alkaloid.
This means that if cats have chocolate, theobromine will build up in their system, making it toxic since they can’t process it properly. This toxic build-up can have several symptoms and results such as vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. In cases where cats have had a lot of chocolate, the buildup of this toxin can cause liver failure and death.
Alright, you’re at the coffee shop, and you’ve already bought your cat a kitty cup because you’re splurging. You have to get yourself something as well! If you’re a typical person, you’ll either get yourself a lovely latte or a steaming cup of green tea. You love your coffee and your tea. Probably your cat would, too, right?
Unfortunately, giving your kitty caffeine is one of the worst things you can do! Caffeine can cause hyperactivity, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and vomiting. Cats also might experience tremors and seizures. Caffeine also contains the same ingredient, theobromine, that is toxic in chocolate.
Just as a few bits of chocolate probably won’t hurt your cat, a few licks of coffee or tea, won’t usually have adverse effects. However, if your cat ingests coffee beans or coffee grounds, tea, or even supplements containing caffeine, there could be severe consequences. If you’re a coffee-lover, try to keep your cat and your coffee separate or face the consequences!
While many pet parents will never give their cats alcohol, there is always a chance that your curious cat may seek out a taste. Cats can be exposed to alcohol through the usual ways—left out mixed drinks or open cans that spill—but they can also get access to alcohol through foods such as vodka pasta sauce or tiramisu cake.
Alcohol, even in small amounts, can be toxic to cats. Like with humans, alcohol can cause poisoning in the bloodstream. In addition, ingestion can cause body temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar can drop significantly. Beyond weakness and vomiting, alcohol poisoning can be fatal to both humans and cats.
It is also important to remember that cats’ bodies are much smaller than ours. While food containing a little alcohol is unlikely to have any “drunk” effect on people, it can be extremely damaging to your cat. In fact, only a few tablespoons of alcohol could be devastating so keep your kitty and your booze separate, period.
4. Yeast Dough
Yeast dough, when ingested, can ferment in your cat’s stomach, which may cause alcohol poisoning. If it doesn’t cause alcohol poisoning, the dough can rise and expand in your cat’s intestines and stomach. Not only can this cause severe pain, but it can also cause intestinal rupture.
If you’re a baker, or you have some bread dough or roll dough sitting out on the counter, make sure that you protect your cat (and the bread) by placing a thick towel over the top of the pan or bowl. You may also choose to keep your cat in a separate room.
5. Garlic and Onions
Many common ingredients in human food can be toxic and deadly to our cats, including the incredibly popular and tasty garlic and onions. Onions, garlic, and any other food in the allium family can be toxic to cats if cats ingest too much.
While onion and garlic can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and vomiting, they also contain n-propyl disulfide, which is an oxidant that can cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells. If blood cells are attacked, then they will die, which will cause low red blood cell numbers, otherwise known as anemia. Anemia can cause weakness, decreased appetite, and sleepiness. If a cat eats too much garlic or onions, and its anemia is severe, it may require a blood transfusion to survive.
Though onions and garlic are from the same family, garlic is about five times as toxic as onions are for cats. In addition, powders and salts are typically more potent than fresh ingredients. Therefore, you need to be careful to not only avoid giving your cat onions and garlic directly but to also avoid any foods that contain onion and garlic flavorings. These can be hiding in many tasty treats, including jerky, hotdogs, and other meat products that many owners think they can safely feed their cats. While the meat is perfectly safe, garlic and onion flavorings quickly turn them into a dangerous snack.
6. Grapes and Raisins
There are many types of fruits that are okay for cats to have, including bananas, blueberries, and melon. However, one fruit that they cannot eat is grapes and their dried form, raisins.
It is unclear as to what in grapes and raisins causes toxicity in cats, but when cats eat too many raisins or grapes, they can experience vomiting and indigestion as well as kidney failure.
Especially with the holiday season coming up, it’s very important to keep these ingredients out of fruit cakes and stuffing, just in case your kitty gets a little hungry and curious.
Cooked potatoes are typically okay for cats. However, if any part of the potato or potato plant is eaten raw, then they may have gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and vomiting.
This is because raw potatoes contain a chemical called solanine. Solanine is a compound that potatoes (and other nightshades like tomatoes) produce to protect themselves from fungi. This chemical can be powerful at killing fungi and pests. For that reason, solanine can be toxic to animals. Raw potatoes contain high levels of solanine, but when potatoes and other nightshades are cooked, much of the solanine is cooked out, making them safer.
Even humans can be poisoned by solanine. However, it takes an incredible amount of raw potatoes to be toxic to humans. Cooked or not, green potatoes can cause heart issues and even paralysis. Green potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, which are toxins that can lead to poisoning. However, green potatoes are bitter and so shouldn’t be a problem as no person or cat in the right mind will enjoy the taste!
I’m willing to bet that you’re surprised by this one! Tuna is often thought to be a wonderful treat for cats. It’s fish! What could be wrong with it? And you’re partially right – as a one-off treat, tuna is a great option. However, the issue arises when you ditch cat food and feed your kitty a steady diet of tuna all the time. Doing so can be harmful in a couple of ways.
First of all, tuna, if used as the entire diet, does not provide enough nutritional value for your cat. Additionally, tuna can be a source of mercury, which if fed often, can lead to cats getting mercury poisoning. Mercury poisoning in cats can cause difficulty walking, loss of coordination, and other illnesses. Cats with mercury poisoning might also cause a deficiency in vitamin B or thiamine.
As with many of the other foods on this list, some tuna will not cause serious issues. However, if cats are exposed to a lot of tuna, they can have adverse reactions.
What Alternatives to Whipped Cream Are There?
If you’re reading this article and are surprised by the number of foods you can’t give your cat, you’re not alone.
While doing my research, I was hugely surprised by the seemingly never-ending list of foods to avoid.
So, what if you do want to treat your cat? What safe cat treats can be given aside from typical cat treats from the pet store?
Thankfully, there are human foods that you can safely give your cat as treats! Instead of feeding your cat some whipped cream or any of the above foods, consider giving them small amounts of good fish or poultry. They may also enjoy eggs and fruits or vegetables. Some good choices for fruits might be strawberries and other berries.
No matter what, it’s best to keep the calories low when giving your cat a snack. Make sure that the treat is sugar-free and doesn’t contain emulsifiers or dairy to make sure that your kitty doesn’t get an upset stomach or have diarrhea.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
You’re probably wondering about the cats who really love milk. You know, the ones who rub up against your leg whenever you pull the milk carton out of the refrigerator. As we have mentioned before, it’s not likely going to hurt your kitty to have a little milk from time to time.
However, if you want to give your cat a less intolerant version, they do make cat milk, which is lactose-free. This will ensure no upset tummies and a happy cat.
In addition, make sure that you are choosing healthy snacks for your cat. It’s best to stick to minimally processed foods. Cats, just like humans, will choose to eat whatever is delicious. It is one of our responsibilities to keep unhealthy and potentially toxic foods from our pets.