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Why Do Cats Like Ice Cubes? 4 Likely Reasons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Gray persian cat is licking ice

For quite a few years now people have come forward with theories that try to explain why cats seem to be so obsessed with not just ice cubes, but ice in general. Some of those explanations have sort of made sense, but others not so much.

Unfortunately for us, because cats can’t communicate or talk the way humans do, we can only speculate. So, in today’s post, we’ll be sharing some of the theories that seem to make sense.

Why Are Cats Obsessed with Ice Cubes?

1. They Think Its Prey

One theory is that cats think ice cubes are prey. You’ll find them trying really hard to break the cube down into smaller chips, only to resort to licking it the minute they realize that biting might not be the right way to go about it.

2. It’s a Massaging Tool

It’s either that or they just like how ice feels on their teeth. Maybe, from their point of view, the ice is more or less like a tool that’s so effective at massaging the gums, relaxing the jaw muscles, and cleaning the teeth.

cat yawning showing its teeth
Image Credit: Sergio Huainigg, Pixabay

3. They Love the Sounds Being Generated

Some people believe that they love playing around with ice cubes because of the sounds it makes while being pushed around the floor and in their mouths. Apparently, that sound is very similar to the noise made by a scared prey that’s running for its dear life.

This theory is convincing because we’ve always known that cats—like several other members of the feline family—have a very strong prey drive.

4. Ice Helps Them Stay Cool in Hot Weather

Or maybe we’re overthinking it, and they just like how cool ice makes them feel on a hot afternoon. Do you remember what we were told about endothermic reactions in science class? It’s a chemical reaction whereby ice naturally draws thermal energy from its immediate surroundings. This causes its temperature to rise, thus compelling its form to change from solid to liquid water.

The thermal energy being absorbed is that which is created within the cat’s body. Remember, like humans, cats are warm-blooded. And this reaction helps their bodies to gradually cool down.

But like we said, these are all speculations.

laying cat sick
Image Credit: Sisacorn, Shutterstock

Can Ice Help My Cat Stay Hydrated?

Yes, it can. You see, cats don’t know that ice is a different form of water. They’ll lick it every chance they get, probably thinking that they are tormenting their prey. The more they lick it, the more water will be released through melting.

If you’d like your cat to drink even more water, add some ice chips and flavor in there. They often like the gravy flavor that’s present in their canned wet food. That enhanced taste will for sure compel them to drink more water than usual, hence staying hydrated.

Will all cats fall for this trick? No. We’re almost 100% certain that this method might not improve the standard water intake of all cats because their preferences differ. But it definitely will for most of them.

Ice Cubes
Image Credit: Bruno /Germany, Pixabay

What Are the Risks Involved in Allowing Cats to Play with Ice Cubes?

It’s worth noting that cat teeth are not so different from ours. Then again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, given both humans and cats are diphyodont creatures. “Diphyodont” is the term used to describe an animal that has the ability to develop two very different sets of teeth in its lifetime.

The first set is the baby or deciduous teeth. They normally come out at a very young age but eventually fall off to give way to the permanent set.

Chewing on ice is not a habit that we would ever encourage even if our cats still have the baby set. The cold can irreparably damage their enamel, hence making their teeth very sensitive to hot and cold food—they’ll also be susceptible to cavities and decay.

Choking is another risk that you have to find a way to mitigate. The cat’s airway will be completely blocked, making it difficult to breathe.

Licking the ice cubes for several hours could also cause stomach discomfort. Cold temperatures are known to slow down different processes, including chemical reactions. So, the cold will slow down digestion in their stomach, and this could cause bloating, diarrhea, or constipation.

What Are the Precautions to Take When Giving Ice Cubes to Cats?

To be clear, we’re not saying you should never give your cat ice cubes to play with. They are allowed to have fun once in a while—but under supervision. You being present and attentive will help prevent medical emergency situations such as choking from occurring.

Also, do not forget to break the large chunks into smaller pieces. The larger they are, the easier it becomes to choke on them.

What’s The Best Way to Keep a Cat Cool in Hot Weather?

Cats have a higher body temperature than we do. According to veterinarians, it ranges between 100.5ºF and 102.5ºF—converted into Celsius that’s equal to 38.1ºC and 39.2ºC.

However, that doesn’t imply that they can’t be affected by heat exhaustion, which almost always leads to heat stroke. If their body temperature keeps rising and is not brought down fast enough, their critical organs will start failing, inevitably leading to death.

You can use ice cubes to bring down those temperatures but serve them in water as small chips. Ice balls are also effective, as well as “catcicles”.

Catcicles are similar to popsicles save for the fact that they don’t have sweeteners or added sugars. And are specifically prepared for cats. We love offering cats these nutritious frozen treats during summer to help them cool down.

domestic cat lies on the floor in morning sun rays
Image Credit: oleg_aryutkin, Shutterstock


Why do cats love playing with ice cubes? We honestly don’t know for sure. All we know is, if you don’t serve the cubes in moderation, your cat may start grappling with dental problems. They could also choke if left unsupervised, so don’t leave them alone with the cubes. Remember to break down the cubes into small chips as there’s less risk of choking.

Featured Image Credit: Chaiwat Hemakom, Shutterstock

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