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Cheese is considered safe for cats, meaning it’s non-toxic. However, cats don’t digest dairy products well, so it should only be given in moderation and with your vet’s approval. Cats are carnivores, so they don’t need cheese to survive. Additionally, most adult cats are lactose intolerant, so dairy products, such as milk and cheese, can give them mild to moderate GI symptoms.
Wanting to share your snacks with your pets is a normal part of being a pet parent. You’re enjoying something that’s delicious, so why shouldn’t your cat? You may have even wondered at one point, “Can my cat eat cheese?” However, not all human foods are safe for pets. Of course, there are plenty of healthy and delicious human foods you can share with your cat. Cheese will not pose a health risk to them, but because they are likely lactose intolerant, it’s typically best not to feed them too much cheese. Given in moderation, your cat may not experience any GI symptoms at all. Keep reading to learn more about giving your cat cheese.
- What Types Of Cheese Are Safe For Cats?
- Can Cats Eat Other Dairy Products?
- Feeding Your Pet Human Foods: Safety Tips
- Can Cats Eat Cheese?: FAQs
- Final Notes
What Types Of Cheese Are Safe For Cats?
Now that your question, “Can a cat eat cheese?” has been answered, it’s important to learn the types of cheeses that are safe for cats. Hard cheeses are typically safest for your cat because they contain less lactose than soft cheeses.1 Therefore, your cat might enjoy a small piece of cheddar or swiss every now and then. However, soft cheese like brie or cottage cheese contains high levels of lactose, which can cause more moderate GI problems for your cat.
Additionally, if your cat has health problems, such as obesity or diabetes, any cheese might not be good for them because it’s high in calories and may only add to their weight. Even though cheese has protein, there’s little nutritional benefit to your cat eating cheese, so they shouldn’t eat cheese every day. However, giving them a small piece of any cheese you’re enjoying should be safe with approval from your vet.
Any time you decide to give your cat cheese or another human food, try to make sure it will not make up more than 10% of their diet. If you’re unsure how many calories your cat should be consuming, a vet can help you determine how to feed your cat to help them maintain a healthy weight.
How Much Cheese Can I Feed My Cat?
Cheese should only be given to cats in moderation and on rare occasions because it can upset their stomachs. Before adding anything new to your cat’s diet, even just a small bit of cheese, it’s best to talk with your vet to ensure it’s safe for them, depending on their current health.
Cheeses are considered a treat, so they should not make up a large part of your cat’s diet. To feed your cat cheese, you can cut cheese up into small pieces that are easy for them to chew and won’t be a choking hazard. If it’s your cat’s first time eating cheese, start with a small piece and monitor the cat to ensure they’re not showing signs of distress.
It’s also important to pay attention to the signs of lactose intolerance or food allergies. Common signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and itchy skin. If your cat starts having GI symptoms, stop feeding them cheese immediately and talk to your vet for guidance.
Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your cat’s diet, so there’s no reason to give your cat cheese if it can cause them to eat more calories. Ensuring your cat eats a proper diet is more important than feeding them treats like cheese. So instead, only give your cat cheese in moderation and never feed them too much.
Can Cats Eat Other Dairy Products?
Most adult cats are lactose intolerant, so it’s typically best to avoid other dairy products, especially those that are high in lactose. When cats are young, they feed on their mother’s milk. However, as kittens are weaned, they eventually grow out of the need for milk, and their digestive system will no longer process dairy, causing an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.2
When most people think about dairy products, they think about milk. While you may see people giving their cats saucers of milk to the media, it’s actually a myth that cats should drink milk.3 Milk can be harmful to cats, especially because most of them are lactose intolerant, so there’s no benefit to giving a cat milk or any other dairy products, even though they aren’t toxic to pets.
Cats like the taste of milk, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. Not only can milk cause digestive upset, but it’s also full of calories and fat that can make them gain weight.
When it comes to dairy products, it’s typically best to keep your cat away from all of them, even if they seem interested in your glass of milk. They only need to drink water and eat their own cat diets to ensure their health. Giving your cat any dairy products could lead to preventable GI problems and discomfort in cats, so there’s no reason to share your food or drinks with your cat.
Feeding Your Pet Human Foods: Safety Tips
It’s tempting to want to share human foods with your pet. However, in most cases, it’s best not to because your cat should already be eating a balanced diet that supports optimum health. However, you might try to find healthy human foods that can be used as a healthy alternative to regular cat treats. When feeding your cat human foods, follow these safety tips.
1. Talk to your vet about cheese beforehand
Depending on your cat’s health, your vet may recommend not feeding your cat treats at all, especially if they’re diabetic or obese. Instead, your vet may recommend other healthy treat options and diet tips.
2. Know the signs of indigestion or allergies
Food intolerance is different from a food allergy. Food intolerance means your cat’s body doesn’t properly digest a particular food, such as dairy products. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant. Symptoms of a food intolerance typically include GI problems, such as:
A food allergy is when a particular food triggers the immune system and leads to an allergic reaction, resulting in symptoms such as:
- Itchy skin and red patches4
- Hair loss
- Breathing difficulty
Can Cats Eat Cheese?: FAQs
What happens if cats eat cheese?
Small amounts of cheese are safe for cats, but most adult cats are lactose intolerant. Therefore, if your cat eats cheese, they might experience mild to moderate GI problems. However, these symptoms should subside after a few days once the cheese is out of your cat’s system.
Why do cats love cheese?
Cats need a diet full of protein and fat, both of which cheese has. Cats may be attracted to the high content of fat in cheese, which they can smell. However, cats can adopt a taste for just about any human food.
How do I know if my cat can eat cheese?
Always talk to your vet before introducing new foods into your cat’s diet. If you decide to give your cat cheese, start with a small amount and watch for signs of lactose intolerance and allergies, which can include vomiting and diarrhea. Monitoring your cat after eating cheese is the best way to determine if they can handle eating it. However, cheese isn’t the healthiest snack for cats.
Taking proper care of your cat means ensuring they’re eating a healthy diet that can support their health and wellness. Cheese is a safe treat for cats, but it should only be given in moderation. Depending on your cat, you may not be able to share cheese with them at all because of their lactose intolerance. If you want to try to feed your cat cheese, always consult a vet to ensure it won’t exacerbate any health conditions. From there, only give your cat a small amount of cheese to start and monitor them for signs of intolerance, such as GI upset.
Cats seem to love cheese, but that doesn’t mean it should be part of their diets. Pet parents should look for healthier alternatives to cheese for cats because it can be high in calories.
Finding the right food for your cat can be difficult because you understand the importance of a balanced diet for your cat’s health. If you’re unsure what to feed your cat, consult a Dutch vet who can help you understand what types of nutrients your cat needs on a daily basis. Dutch offers telemedicine for pets to help pet parents care for their cat’s health from the comfort of their own homes, providing you with peace of mind knowing we’ll help you take care of your cat.
Petco. “Can Cats Eat Cheese?” Petco, Petco, 19 Nov. 2021, https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/food-nutrition/can-cats-eat-cheese.html.
“Harmful Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat: Tuna, Milk, Raw Fish, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, https://pets.webmd.com/cats/ss/slideshow-foods-your-cat-should-never-eat.
“Vet Q&A: Can Cats Drink Milk?” PDSA, https://www.pdsa.org.uk/what-we-do/blog/vet-qa-can-cats-drink-milk.
“Food Allergies.” Pet Food Institute, 14 Apr. 2022, https://www.petfoodinstitute.org/about-pet-food/ingredients/food-allergy-beyond-bowl/.