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Can Cats Eat Cheese?
Cat Food

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Introduction to Cats And Cheese

Have you seen your cute little pet lingering around the cheese and looking for a chance to get a nibble of it? You must have, because cats love cheese and everything dairy! They can easily find where the cheesy treats are because they love fatty and meaty flavours, and their taste buds can detect them in cheese. 

But can cats eat cheese? 

While cheese and other dairy products are not toxic to cats, they are not good for adult cats because they are usually lactose intolerant or have milk allergies, and eating cheese could lead to digestive issues. 

Understanding Cats’ Dietary Needs

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they require nutrients from animal products, including higher amounts of protein, moderate amounts of fat, and small amounts of carbohydrates. They also need other nutrients, like minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids. 

Now you may also wonder, "Can cats have milk?" The answer is no. Unlike popular belief, cats do not need milk or any other dairy product in their diet. Adult cats do not produce the enzyme that breaks down the sugars in dairy products or are allergic to dairy. Hence, it often causes an upset stomach because the cat cannot digest the dairy properly. 

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Cats can only eat cheese in moderate amounts and under guidelines, because it has lots of protein and calcium and is very nutritious. 

Having said that, most adult cats experience lactose intolerance or are allergic to dairy products and can upset their stomach by consuming even a little piece of cheese or a small amount of milk. 

You may be wondering if the kittens are nursed by their mothers, then why they cannot have milk when matured. It is because kittens produce the enzyme lactase used to break down the lactose into its components, making it digestible. 

However, as cats mature, they do not need the enzyme as they eat solids and do not have milk, which generally makes them lactose intolerant. 

What Cheese Can Cats Eat?

If you plan on giving your cat cheese, choose a firm and plain one with no additives and allow only a dice-sized square of cheese once or twice a week. Cheeses you can offer include:

  • Cheddar

  • Parmesan

  • Swiss

  • Provolone

  • Gouda

Risks And Recommendations 

Health Risks of Feeding Cheese to Cats

A cheesy treat to your feline friend once in a while isn’t bad, however, cats generally cannot digest cheese, as it can cause digestive issues. Also, cheese has an amount of calories greater than cats should consume, which causes obesity if eaten even in a small amount. 

According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, you must not offer your cats cheese if they need to lower their salt intake or have a heart condition. 

Moreover, cats often have dairy allergies you may not know about, and devouring even a small amount of cheese can induce an allergic reaction. The symptoms you must look for in lactose intolerance or dairy allergies include:

  • Diarrhea;

  • Vomiting;

  • Gas;

  • Itchy and red skin patches.

Cheese Alternatives And Safe Feeding Practices

If your cat loves cheese or anything rich in protein and fats and you are looking for alternatives, you can try offering a little cooked, plain fish or chicken as a special treat. Also, you can give non-dairy cheese, such as soy cheese. Another alternative can be vegan cheeses with added ingredients like seeds or nuts, which provide similar flavours as cheese without causing digestive issues. 

When introducing new food and any cheese alternatives to the cats’ diet, you must consult your veterinarian and feed only a small piece of food once or twice a week and see if it sets well with your cat and does not cause harm. 

Conclusion

Cheese is not toxic to cats when given in moderation, but asking your veterinarian before introducing any new food to the cat’s diet is better because cats often experience lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can cats have cheese? Can cats eat parmesan cheese? 

Yes, you can give parmesan cheese to your cats in moderation because it is low in lactose and does not have additives. 

Can cats eat cottage cheese? Can cats eat cream cheese?

Cats should not have cottage or cream cheese because soft cheeses, raw or cooked, pose health hazards as they are higher in lactose. 

Can cats eat mac and cheese?

No, you must not give mac and cheese to your cat even as a treat because it has more calories, fat, and salts than your cats should consume. And so they can easily upset their stomach after eating a small bite of it.

Are cats lactose intolerant?

Yes, most cats are lactose intolerant, which means they lack the enzymes needed to digest the milk. 

Can cheese be used to hide medication?

You can use small dice-size cheese to hide medication only if your cat is not lactose intolerant or does not have dairy allergies.  

Are there any cheeses safe for cats?

Cheeses are not toxic for cats if consumed in moderation. However, they are not an ideal addition to the cats’ diet and you should avoid giving cheese to cats that are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies.