What’s more awesome than cat videos? They’re pretty much the best gift the internet has ever given us. They make us cry. They make us laugh. They make us laugh some more. Cats getting tickled? All of the yes. Cats afraid of cucumbers? Bring. It. On.
Unfortunately though, a recent trend in internet cat videos has us a little concerned. These videos show kitties experiencing brain freeze, more commonly known as an “ice cream headache."
These videos show cats licking a few bites of ice cream and at first, everything is just peachy. Then all of a sudden, kitty rears back in horror. Sometimes there’s an accompanying little yelp. At first glance, the whole spectacle might seem amusing. But it’s not when you think about what’s going on.
Cats experience brain freeze exactly the same way that humans do. Dwayne Godwin, a neuroscientist at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, recently explained to the Washington Post what happens when a person (or cat) has an ice cream headache. He says, “Cold has an affect on the palate and arteries than run at the back of the throat.”
In particular, the quick change in the diameter of the cerebral artery is what causes sudden pain. A person or animal’s brain doesn’t actually have pain receptors, but the protective covering of the brain does. Science believes this is how brain freeze occurs.
This means that when you’re watching a cat react to ice cream, the kitty is in pain. And that’s not funny at all. Also, many cats are lactose intolerant. So ice cream may not be the best treat to offer them, even without the headache. There are plenty of yummy foods you can serve your feline friend instead, like small bits of liver, fish or eggs.
So keep the Ben & Jerry’s to yourself. Kitty will thank you.