Anytime you’re snacking on something tasty, your cat may want to sneak in a bite. Vanilla pudding for example might seem harmless to offer your cat at first, but further research shows the opposite might be true. So, can cats eat vanilla pudding?
Cats cannot eat vanilla pudding. Vanilla pudding contains Milk, sugar, butter, eggs, salt, and cornstarch that may be detrimental to a cat’s health in large amounts. Cats may also suffer from ethyl poisoning from the vanilla extract contained in the pudding.
While cats shouldn’t have vanilla pudding, it’s important to dive deep into why that is. Not all vanilla puddings are made equal, and cats have to abide by a well-balanced and strict diet to stay healthy for years to come. I’ll break down why vanilla pudding is harmful to cats as well as share some alternative snacks that are safer for your cat to eat.
Reasons Cats Can’t Eat Vanilla Pudding
The biggest reason cats can’t eat vanilla pudding is because of the harmful ingredients included in it. While vanilla pudding may seem like an ideal snack to offer your cat, it can actually make them quite sick and cause severe health issues.
So, what exactly are the ingredients in your typical vanilla pudding recipe? Below is a table showing you exactly what’s in this pudding:
|Ingredients In Vanilla Pudding||Is It Harmful To Cats (YES/NO)|
|Cornstarch||No (In Moderation)|
|Salt||No (In Moderation)|
|Egg Yolks||No (In Moderation & Cooked)|
The ingredients above are focused mostly on homemade vanilla puddings. Storebought premade puddings may contain larger amounts of these ingredients and other variations. Let’s dive into how each of these ingredients can affect your cat.
Whole milk is widely used in vanilla puddings. Unfortunately, whole milk is not healthy for cats. Despite it being popularized in culture, cats shouldn’t really have milk in the first place.
The majority of cats are lactose intolerant. That means they can’t digest lactose and milk can cause cats to deal with all kinds of issues. This includes sickness, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and severe dehydration.
The base of the vanilla pudding is milk, so there’s usually quite a bit of it in each recipe. Anywhere from 2 – 2.5 cups of milk per batch.
Although cats cannot taste sweetness, that doesn’t mean it won’t have an adverse impact on them.
Sugar, while not toxic to cats, can be dangerous if it’s consumed in large amounts. Sugar is high in carbohydrates; something that cats need at regulated levels.
While most pet foods contain small amounts of sugar, that’s not the case with vanilla pudding. Most vanilla pudding recipes call for 1/3 cup – 1/2 cup of sugar. Even in a small bite of vanilla pudding, that’s a ton of sugar for a cat to eat.
For the most part, cats should stay away from butter. While it’s not toxic to them, too much of it will cause issues. Butter is fat, and cats need only a certain amount of that each day to stay healthy.
Butter holds little nutritional value for cats, although it’s a key ingredient in vanilla puddings. Most recipes call for a tablespoon of butter. While that might not seem like a lot, it’s enough to cause your cat the following issues:
- Upset Stomach
Because cats are lactose intolerant, the biggest issue you will see is an upset stomach. A small amount of butter won’t cause much harm, but if our cat is particularly sensitive, it very well may.
Cornstarch affects cats a little differently than the other ingredients you’ll find in vanilla pudding. Corn itself is not much of an allergen source in cats. While cats have fewer allergic reactions to this than say flour, it’s still impactful.
Many cat foods do contain cornstarch, just not as much as you’d find in vanilla pudding. Also, cornstarch is usually baked into those foods, unlike vanilla pudding where it’s simply mixed in.
Some vanilla pudding recipes have 3 tablespoons of cornstarch which is quite a bit.
It’s powdered cornstarch, and not toxic to cats, however. At most, it will cause your cat to have some digestive issues and perhaps some respiratory irritation.
Cat food is known for having salt. Cats can have salt, just not too much. Salt poisoning is a real thing in cats, and vanilla pudding can contain around 1/8th teaspoon of salt.
For that reason, we labeled this as not too harmful to cats because the amount is so small.
Without vanilla extract, the pudding would be bland and taste only of sugar. So vanilla extract is an important ingredient. It’s potent and carries a lot of flavor.
Most recipes call for just a few drops of extract. Somewhere between 1 – 2 teaspoons. Vanilla extract even in small amounts can be truly damaging to cats.
Vanilla extract contains high amounts of ethyl alcohol, sometimes as high as 34%. This can lead to alcohol poisoning in cats. In addition to alcohol poisoning, cats can suffer from:
- Liver failure
- Slow heart rate
- Body cell damage
If your cat does suffer ethyl poisoning from vanilla extract, you can expect to see the symptoms quickly if they already had an empty stomach. Within the first 15 minutes, you may see increased urination, nervous system slowdown, slow reflexes, or even a heart attack.
While the other ingredients in vanilla pudding can cause your cat to feel bad and deal with sickness, none are quite as devastating as vanilla extract.
Egg yolks are a big part of vanilla pudding, and cats can actually eat eggs. The egg however must be cooked, and it can’t be too much. Eggs carry a lot of fat content which can mess with your cat’s nutritional balance.
Raw eggs are even worse. It could cause your cat gastrointestinal problems.
Things To Consider
Based on everything we discussed here regarding vanilla pudding, it’s clear that it’s a snack that you should never share with a cat. It’s simply too dangerous to give to them and it’s not safe for them.
While some of the ingredients actually do hold some nutritional value for cats, the combination of that with the bad ingredients makes vanilla pudding something you shouldn’t give to cats.
In general, you want to avoid dairy products when it comes to cats. They don’t have the enzymes necessary to digest those foods well, and that can cause problems.
So, what are some alternatives? Well, it’s possible to let your cat enjoy some vanilla pudding or other vanilla-flavored snacks if you remove the vanilla extract altogether.
Cat’s can have vanilla pudding if you heavily reduce the other ingredients and use vanilla pods (or beans) for flavoring instead. This way there’s no risk for alcohol poisoning.