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Pup In A Cup: Can Cats Have Pup Cups, What is a Pup in Cup?



Best Spots for Pup Cups: 9 Places to Satisfy Your Dog's Ice Cream Cravings

If you’re a pet owner, you may have heard of Starbuck’s delightful little secret – the Pup Cup. This sweet treat is a miniature-sized, pet-friendly offering from the renowned coffee chain principally designed for our four-legged canine companions. However, as the popularity of Pup Cups surges, a question is increasingly being asked by cat owners: can cats enjoy Pup Cups too?

“Pup Cups: a delightful treat for dogs. But are they safe for our feline friends?”

In this article, we will explore just that. We will delve deep into the ingredients of a Pup Cup, understand the nutritional needs of cats and finally, determine whether cats can, in fact, enjoy Pup Cups.

What is a Pup in Cup?

A “Pup in a Cup”, commonly known as “Pup Cup”, is a special treat offered by many pet-friendly cafes and restaurants. The name might imply that it’s a drink, but don’t be deceived. It’s not really a cup of coffee or tea for your dog, rather it’s a small cup containing a pet-friendly treat, typically some form of dairy product like whipped cream or ice cream.

Establishments that have “Pup Cups” on their menu are acknowledging the increasing tendency of pet owners to seek out pet-inclusive experiences. A Pup Cup thus symbolizes a welcome sign to dog owners who wish to share their day with their beloved pet. However, what about feline friends? Considering cats’ distinct dietary requirements, the question of whether these “Pup Cups” are suitable for cats naturally arises.

What are pup cups and what are they made of?

Pup Cup, as the name suggests, is a delightful treat specifically designed for dogs. Offered in several pet-friendly coffee shops and ice cream parlors, it typically consists of a small amount of dairy-free ice cream or whipped cream, served in a small, easily accessible cup.

Ingredients of a common Pup Cup

The key ingredient in a Pup Cup tends to be dairy-free ice cream or whipped cream. This is because regular dairy products can sometimes upset a dog’s digestive system. Most establishments replace dairy with dog-safe alternatives. Other possible additions might include pet-safe flavorings, such as peanut butter or pumpkin.

Variants of Pup Cups

Though the base ingredients typically remain the same, some establishments have unique takes on the standard Pup Cup. This can include adding in small dog biscuit or a slice of bacon for an extra special touch.

Please note that the unique variants of Pup Cups depend on individual establishment’s recipe. It’s always advisable to check with the pet-friendly shop about their specific Pup Cup ingredients.

Are pup cups safe for cats?

In general, Pup Cups are designed specifically for dogs, but they are not inherently harmful for cats. Cats’ dietary needs and restrictions significantly differ from those of dogs, thus these treats may not be the best fit for felines.

Cats and Dairy Products

One common misconception is that cats can digest dairy products without any issues. While many cats do enjoy a taste of dairy, it’s important to note that they are often lactose intolerant. Consumption of dairy products can lead to stomach upsets, including diarrhea and vomiting.

Cats and Sugars

Cats do not have the same taste buds as humans or dogs. They lack the receptor for sweet tastes, meaning they are indifferent to sugary foods. Hence, a dessert-like treat such as a Pup Cup may not be appealing to them.

Are pup cups safe for dogs to consume?

, pup cups are generally safe for dogs to consume. They are created with canine dietary restrictions in mind. However, caution should be exercised when offering these treats to dogs with known sensitivities or allergies. Now, let’s probe deeper into what comprises a common pup cup.

Ingredients of a common Pup Cup

Pup cups typically contain three main ingredients: unflavored gelatin, water, and peanut butter. Gelatin is rich in amino acids and can help improve a dog’s skin and coat health. Peanut butter, on the other hand, is a good source of protein and healthy fats. However, it’s pivotal that the peanut butter used does not contain xylitol, a common sweetener that can be toxic to dogs. Some other versions of pup cups might include mashed bananas as well.

Variants of Pup Cups

Several variations of pup cups are available, depending on the dietary needs and preferences of the canine. These variations may involve different bases such as pumpkin puree, sweet potato, or plain yogurt. Toppings can also vary, with options such as dog-friendly granola, crushed dog biscuits, or small pieces of meat.

Cats and Dairy Products

It’s important to understand that cats have a different dietary requirement as compared to dogs. Cats, unlike dogs, are not as tolerant of dairy products. This is because many cats have a limited ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Consuming lactose can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and other digestive issues in cats.

Cats and Sugars

Cats also do not have the same ability to metabolize sugars as canines do. A diet high in sugars can lead to obesity and diabetes in cats. Therefore, it’s vital to control the amount of sugar-related products, such as pup cups, that your feline companion consumes. The flip side of providing a pup cup to a cat would be to ensure that it contains ingredients that cater to a cat’s nutritional needs. Most importantly, when making dietary decisions for your pet, always consult with a vet to receive personalized advice.

What are the potential health risks for cats if they consume pup cups?

Understanding Pup Cup Contents

Typically, a pup cup comprises of a small portion of soft serve vanilla ice cream, usually offered by establishments as a special treat for dogs. Some variants might include dog-safe toppings like kibble or small dog biscuits. The primary ingredients are thus milk, sugar, cream, and occasionally traces of flavoring or toppings.

Health Risks with Dairy Products

Dairy products, while a staple in the human diet, present potential digestive issues for cats. Majority of adult cats are lactose intolerant – meaning, they lack the enzyme lactase to break down lactose, the primary sugar in milk. Consumption of lactose-rich diets can lead to gastrointestinal upset in cats, symptomatic of diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort.

The Issue of Sugars

As obligate carnivores, cats’ bodies are not designed to handle high levels of sugars. The presence of sugar in pup cups can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and dental issues in the long run. It’s important here to refer to a study by the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery which shows that consumption of sugar in high amounts can result in conditions like obesity and diabetes in cats.

Assessing the Risk

In essence, while a pup cup is a suitable occasional treat for dogs, it carries potential health risks for their feline counterparts. Although a small lick or taste may not cause immediate harm, frequent or large amounts can lead to the health issues discussed above. Always consult your vet before introducing any new foods into your pet’s diet.

Are there any alternative treats that are safe for cats similar to pup cups?

Alternative Treats for Cats

A variety of cat-friendly treats can adequately fill in the delicate spot for a safe ‘pup cup’-like treat. Such treats predominantly avoid the problematic ingredients pinpointed in standard pup cups. Here are some specifically designed for feline consumption:

  • Catnip-infused treats: Catnip typically stimulates most cats, offering an exciting experience. Many healthy catnip-infused snacks boast of their grain-free composition, making them an excellent choice for feline companions.
  • Freeze-dried protein treats: Many cats exhibit a strong preference for protein. Treats featuring freeze-dried meat or fish serve as both a tasty and healthy option. They’re usually grain-free and contain neither sugar nor dairy, eliminating the concerns associated with pup cups.
  • Dental treats: Dental treats not only offer an enjoyable snack for cats but also aid in looking after your pet’s dental health. These treats usually have a crunchy texture designed to clean your cat’s teeth as they chew.
  • Homemade treats: Preparing treats at home allows control over the ingredients added, ensuring the meal is safe for your animal companion. Pieces of cooked chicken or fish serve as simple, safe, and effective home-fashioned treats.

Always remember to offer cat treats in moderation. They should not substitute for a balanced diet and should only act as an occasional reward or indulgence. Cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores, meaning they require a diet predominately made up of meat.


In conclusion, while a Pup Cup might not harm a cat, it will likely not provide any significant nutritional value or enjoyment due to their dietary needs and taste bud differences. It is always advisable to offer cat-specific treats to cats for their overall health and enjoyment.

Christy Avery has worked as a veterinary technician for more than five years, caring for both domestic and exotic animals. She has received training as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and treat pet anxiety, fear, and stress.