Heading to a cafe and ordering a mocha topped with a mountain of whipped cream is one of the many small joys in life. Sharing those special moments with your pet feels like a natural thing to do, yet should you be feeding your cat whipped cream?
The short answer is no, cats should not eat whipped cream. Whipped cream isn’t only made with dairy but also with sugar and vanilla extract. Each of these ingredients presents problems for your cat’s digestive system, although none of them are deemed toxic for cats.
The Myth Around Cats and Dairy
Growing up, many of us watched cartoons like Tom and Jerry. We are all well-acquainted with the idea that cats love dairy products, and giving them a bowl of cream or milk is a much-appreciated treat.
It is hard to believe, but we have all been deceived when it comes to cats and dairy products. Although they might seem to like it, you may find out quickly that it doesn’t seem to like your cat quite as much.
When younger, kittens have a specialized enzyme in their system called lactase. These lactase enzymes make it possible for them to break down the proteins found in dairy products, mainly lactose. Lactose is found in almost all dairy products, including milk, ice cream, yogurt, and yes, even whipped cream.
The need for these enzymes is due to the way that kittens feed when they are young. Up until about 8 weeks old, kittens feed primarily on their mother’s milk. Although they might begin to transition much earlier than this, the production of lactase enzymes in their systems steadily stops.
As cats grow older, there is no reason for them to continue taking in any milk products or anything else with lactose proteins. They are carnivores by nature and don’t need those enzymes anymore.
Since adult cats are typically missing any of these necessary enzymes, they find it almost impossible to break down lactose successfully. In other words, nearly all cats have a lactose intolerance by nature.
It means that when cats eat products like whipped cream, they won’t digest it, and their digestive systems will seemingly rebel.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Cats
Some cat owners are very aware of what lactose intolerance looks like in their cats. However, if you have a new cat or a young one that is just growing up into lactose intolerance, watch out for these symptoms. They might point to your cat eating a dairy product they shouldn’t have.
If your cat begins to experience these symptoms, take them to a safe place where they can be sick without making a mess. That might be outside in a guarded area or perhaps a tub. Once their system has worked out the dairy products, they should be fine. If vomiting or diarrhea continues for several hours, take them to your vet.
Other Ingredients in Whipped Cream
Dairy isn’t the only product in whipped cream that poses a danger to a healthy cat. You also need to be careful when it comes to your cat eating sugar and vanilla extract.
Sugar isn’t toxic for a cat, but it is superfluous to their system. Eating too much of it or too often can cause issues with their pancreas and increase their risk for diabetes and obesity. Their bodies quickly store the sugars as fats and do not expel them as they should.
Although vanilla is not a toxin for cats, the vanilla extract contains about 34% ethyl alcohol. Too much of this can act as a toxin for cats.
An interesting application of vanilla extract is that it is calming for cats when they smell it. While eating vanilla extract is not suggested, it can supposedly help aggressive cats get along better than average.
What Happens When Cats Eat Whipped Cream
Cats are sneaky creatures. If your cat sneaks up on the counter for a sly lick or two of whipped cream, don’t panic. Your cat will likely experience more gas than usual for several hours, but beyond that, they will probably be okay.
If you know that your cat has an intense intolerance to lactose, then you might want to gear up for some vomiting or diarrhea when it hits their stomachs.
Even if your cat doesn’t seem to have lactose intolerance, it is still a poor idea to feed them whipped cream. The sugar and vanilla in it won’t sit well in their stomachs and can cause long-term illnesses in the future.
Most human food is a bad idea to feed to your cat. Unfortunately, this does include whipped cream. It is best to avoid these kinds of treats to protect your cat both in the long term and the short term.
Featured image credit: HomeMaker, Pixabay