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Kitties tend to stick their boopable noses everywhere, including in your morning latte or piece of holiday pie. Thus, they might end up with a little whipped cream on their furry little faces. Yes, it's beyond adorable, but will they like it? Hard to say. Can cats eat whipped cream? Maybe—but there's really no reason for them to do so.
The Cornell Feline Health Center points out that cats are obligate carnivores, meaning "they rely on nutrients found only in animal products." Properly formulated commercial cat food provides balanced amounts of animal protein, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, the center recommends that fewer than 10 percent of a cat's daily caloric intake consist of treats. So, if given the choice, your little purrball would likely prefer a juicy, well-cooked nibble of turkey or salmon, which are healthy snacks in moderation, rather than airy, sugary goo.
Another reason whipped cream for cats isn't usually the best treat is because it contains milk, sugar, and additives they can't digest effectively.
Can Cats Have Whipped Cream?
Although it's only natural for humans to project our wants and needs onto our cats, letting them have whipped cream is probably when we should tell them no, says Renee Rucinsky, DVM, DABVP(F), and the owner of Mid Atlantic Cat Hospital and Feline Thyroid Center in Queenstown, Md. "Most cats tend to be relatively lactose intolerant, and whipped cream, milk, cheese, and so on can cause some stomach upset," she adds.
Lactase is an enzyme mammals are born with that helps break down the natural sugar found in milk—lactose—and digest same-species milk when they're nursing. Mother's milk is also vital for providing all the essential nutrients and immune support young ones need. But once kittens are weaned and start eating solid food, they no longer need dairy products of any kind.
So is whipped cream bad for cats? They might be drawn to the creamy richness of the fluffy stuff, but more than a few licks of it could cause various gastrointestinal issues, including bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea.
However, Rucinsky adds that if your cat likes it and, more importantly, can tolerate it, a little bit can be a special-occasion treat. She says cats can eat Reddi-wip (still just a touch, though) as well because it's made with dairy and more like homemade whipped cream.
What About Whipped Cream Alternatives?
In many ways, whipped toppings are even more of a problem for kitties. Rucinsky says there's still milk in Cool Whip and generic store brands, but they're also filled with oil and corn syrup and should be avoided. "And as always, stay away from sugar-free options when considering sharing with your pets, as some sugar alternatives can be toxic," she adds. Especially any product with xylitol, which is dangerous for animals to eat.
Also don't give your pet dairy-free alternatives made with plant-based products such as almonds, coconuts, and soy. While Rucinsky says they're likely not harmful in moderation, there's a lot of processing that goes into making them, so it's best to keep them off the treat list.
Better Sweet Treats For Your Cat
Just what can kitty sink his teeth into? Surprisingly, some cats enjoy human foods we might not think of at first. But before curiosity gets the best of him, consult your veterinarian to make sure certain fruit and vegetable snackies align with his current nutritional needs.
Apple: peeled, cored, and sliced
Blueberry: rinsed and de-stemmed
Strawberries: washed with core and leaves removed
Sweet potato: fully cooked without seasoning or butter
Overall, remember your cat may never want any kind of sweet snack. So commercial or homemade cat treats—full of meaty goodness—always come in handy when you want to show your kitty he deserves an extra dollop of lovin'.