It’s the latest trend in cat videos. You may have seen pet owners capturing their cat’s reaction to cold treats like ice cream and popsicles. These videos show cats with stunned expressions or a momentary pause that looks reminiscent of our own experience with brain freeze. But is this harmless fun or is it actually cruel? Let’s dive in and find out.
Understanding the Phenomenon
To understand why cats may have these physical reactions to icy treats, let’s take a closer look at what causes brain freeze in humans. Dr. Zachary Glantz, VMD of Companion Pet Hospital explains that brain freeze occurs when a blood vessel in the mouth or throat is rapidly cooled by something cold, causing the dilation of blood vessels, which is perceived as pain.
Dr. Christopher Gaylord, DVM of North Slope Veterinary, suggests that cats may indeed experience brain freeze. Although it’s challenging to know precisely what cats feel, their similar neuroanatomy to humans suggests that their sensory experience may be comparable. So, when a cat consumes something extremely cold, it is likely that they experience a similar type of pain.
Dr. Glantz proposes an alternative theory. He suggests that cats’ reactions to cold treats may be related to sensitive nerve endings in their teeth, possibly due to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is quite common in cats, especially when their teeth are not brushed daily.
Considering the Impact
Before you grab your camera to record your cat’s response to ice cream, it’s essential to understand that what may seem funny at first glance may actually be uncomfortable or painful for your feline friend. Dr. Glantz emphasizes that the discomfort or pain cats experience is “not especially funny” when you think about it from their perspective.
Dr. Gaylord adds that while humans can comprehend the cause of the unpleasant sensation, cats are taken by surprise. They may find it unpleasant and uncomfortable to realize that something as basic as eating suddenly causes pain or discomfort.
In addition to potential discomfort, giving cats ice cream or other frozen human treats can pose serious health risks. While some cats may handle it well, others may not be able to tolerate the high fat content. Cats sensitive to fatty foods could develop pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening disease.
Safe and Cool Alternatives
Instead of making these potentially harmful videos, let’s focus on keeping our cats cool and happy during the summer. Protect your furry friend from the heat and offer them special vet-approved foods and treats. By doing so, you can ensure their comfort and well-being while avoiding any unnecessary risks.
Remember, every decision we make as pet owners should prioritize our cats’ health and happiness. So let’s skip the brain freeze challenges and opt for safe and enjoyable alternatives instead.