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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.
More on Cats and Whipped Cream
Lactose intolerant means that people and cats who have this digestive disorder can’t digest the main carbohydrate in dairy, which is lactose.
They are unable to produce enough of an enzyme called lactase, which allows them to digest lactose.
Kittens (and babies) start out producing plenty of lactase as they need to digest their mother’s milk. However, as they age, 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.
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.
Cream, like other dairy, has lactose in it.
When cats have lactose, but they are lactose intolerant, they will likely have digestive issues that follow, including upset stomach and diarrhea. When they can’t digest lactose, it will start to ferment in their stomachs, which is what causes the digestive issues.
Cats and Sugar
In addition to cream, there are other ingredients in whipped cream that might not be good for your cat.
If you make the whipped cream at home, the typical ingredients are very simple. It will have cream, sugar, and perhaps vanilla in most cases. However, unless you are getting the cream (and milk) directly from the cow, there will be other ingredients in the cream you buy from the store.
Let’s talk about sugar first. Like cream, cats can eat sugar, but should they? The answer here is also no.
We’ve all had our cookies or sour candies, so we know how good sugar and sweet is! However, cats can’t even taste sweet. Their tongues simply don’t have the taste receptors to taste sweetness.
Basically, in order to taste sweet things, humans and animals have to have two specific proteins that communicate with the brain. While humans have their two proteins, cats don’t. In addition, cats never needed these proteins.
When our brains taste sweet, it sends a signal to our brains that whatever we’re eating is a rich source of carbohydrates. For humans, we need carbohydrates. However, cats are protein eaters, and so their brains never needed signals about carbs.
So, cats can’t taste sweetness. Why shouldn’t they have sugar then?
Sugar, and natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, are calorically dense, meaning they have a lot of calories in a little amount. For a spoonful of sugar, there are about 20 calories. While this doesn’t seem like much, there is a lot of sugar in premade whipped cream you can buy in stores.
For certain brands, there is about 15 calories in two tablespoons of already made whipped cream. If you give your cat two tablespoons a day, that’s around 105 calories per week. If that still doesn’t seem like much, that’s still 105 extra calories your cat would be getting.
And that’s if you measured two tablespoons correctly. Kitty cups have way more than two tablespoons as well.
Obesity in Cats
Extra calories means that cats can gain weight or become obese.
Naturally, this weight gain wouldn’t be just from whipped creams, but since cats can’t taste sweet, they would keep eating and eating the whipped cream if they could. They would never get the sick feeling us humans get when we eat too much of something rich.
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.
In addition to sugar, many store-bought whipped creams also used corn syrup. Corn syrup acts very similarly to sugar in how cats, especially those with diabetes, react to the carbohydrates.
While some brands aim for healthier and lower calorie versions of regular whipped cream, they can also contain harmful ingredients for your cat.
Some companies will choose to use artificial sweeteners, like xylitol. While xylitol dramatically reduces the amount 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.
Cream is also a source of fat. While sugar has 15 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, which is traditionally used to make whipped cream.
Along with the sugar, your cat could gain a lot of weight if they have too much whipped cream.
Next, let’s talk about carrageenan.
Carrageenan is an ingredient in foods that’s 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 an 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 bought at the store. 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 the 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.
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 office. However, it is also used as a propellant in whipped creams.
For humans, too much nitrous oxide can cause dizziness and impaire coordination and judgement. 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.
- 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.
- In addition, these sweeteners can cause excessive weight gain.
- There are also other ingredients in whipped cream that cat’s shouldn’t have as they are carcinogenic or potentially harmful.
Other Dairy Foods Cats Can’t Have
There are so many healthy foods that cats can have, but it’s also 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.
We’ll talk about milk first as it is very close to whipped cream. In addition to cream having lactose, milk also has a surplus of lactose that your cat likely can’t digest.
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 addition, milk may also contain emulsifiers, like carrageenan, which we have already mentioned is harmful.
While milk alternatives like soy milk, almond milk, and oat milk don’t contain any actual soy, they can often produce similar reactions in cats when it comes to digestive issues or blood sugar levels.
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 milks. This means that when they encounter them, they might not have good reactions.
In addition, just like cow milk and cream, these milks will contain sugars and artificial sweeteners that can cause problems, like diabetes issues and potentially weight gain and obesity.
As these milks are not actually milk, they often use carrageenan or other emulsifiers to maintain the milk’s structure and make it palatable for humans.
Like other dairy products, cheese does contain a certain amount of lactose. Cheese, however, tends to have less lactose.
Since cats love cheese as a natural source of fat and protein, 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 instead of diarrhea, just like it might in humans.
For humans, yogurt can aid digestion, but 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.
Unless you are giving your cat a lactose free version of yogurt, then you should stay away from this dairy product as well.
I know what you’re thinking. Butter is dairy, so of course they can’t have it!
But, I’ve got some news for you!
It is true the butter is dairy. It is true that butter is made from milk or cream. However, it is also true that during the butter making process, much of the lactose is removed. 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 from one perspective.
Butter is pretty much entirely 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 as other dairy would give them, they still shouldn’t have butter unless they are underweight and could use the burst of calories.
Other Common Foods Cats Shouldn’t Have
While we understand that cats shouldn’t have dairy, there are plenty of other human foods that cats shouldn’t have.
Let’s take a look at some lactose-free foods that pet parents may give their cats.
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 build up 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?
Caffeine can actually 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.
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 of 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.
Only a few tablespoons of alcohol could be devastating for your cat.
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.
Garlic and Onions
There are many common ingredients in human food that 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, onion and garlic 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 their anemia is severe, they may require a blood transfusion in order 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.
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 have 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 the usual diarrhea and vomiting.
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.
Even humans can be poisoned by solanine. However, it takes an incredible amount of raw potatoes to be toxic to humans.
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.
Cooked or not, potatoes that are green 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 they shouldn’t be a problem.
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?
However, a steady diet of tuna 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. But that doesn’t make it toxic or deadly.
Tuna can also be a source of mercury, which if fed often, cats can get 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.
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, doesn’t contain emulsifiers, or dairy to make sure that your kitty doesn’t get an upset stomach or have diarrhea.
You’re probably wondering about the cats who really love milk, 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.
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 tasty and delicious. It is one of our responsibilities to keep unhealthy and potentially toxic foods from our pets.