The image of a cat slurping a bowl of milk is commonly seen in media. Some of us even grew up seeing Garfield going wild over lasagna. But can cats eat cheese? More importantly, should you be feeding your cats cheese?
Can Cats Eat Cheese?
Majority of cats love cheese. The high protein and fat content and the delicious cheesy taste mean that your cat will gobble it up.
Can cats eat cheese? According to experts, yes—but only in moderation. As experts discovered more about the digestion of our feline friends, it has become clear that they are not made to consume dairy, despite just how much they might seem to love it.
While numerous cats can tolerate small portions of cheese, if your cat is lactose intolerant or has a milk allergy, a small amount of cheese might negatively affect their digestive system.
If you give your feline cheese in any way, only give about the size of dice once in a while. For example, you can limit your cat's cheese consumption only at times when you need to conceal medicine for them.
Why Is Cheese Bad For Cats?
Cats are what we call obligate carnivores. This means that they only get the necessary nutrients they need from meat. But although cheese is high in protein, it is not a natural part of a cat's diet and can disrupt its delicate digestive system.
The reason for this is that cats are lactose intolerant. Humans and other omnivores typically produce the lactase enzyme to break down lactose in dairy items, but cats do not have this enzyme. This makes it not easy for them to digest dairy. Most cats will experience vomiting and looseness of the bowels if they consume too much milk.
Dairy Allergies in Cats
Even Usually, cats do not have a lot of food allergies. However, dairy, fish, and red meat are the most common. Cats with dairy allergies may react harshly to even a tiny bite of cheese. Like cats with lactose intolerance, if your cat has a dairy allergy, eating cheese could cause digestive system issues and affect their body's immune system.
Common signs that a cat has a dairy allergy:
- Passing Gas
- Scratchy and red skin patches
- Loss of hair
If your cat shows these signs, contact their vet immediately to arrange a check-up.
Eyes on the Calories
No more than 8%-10% of an animal's day-to-day calorie portion should come from food that vets do not advise. Cheese, as an example, is a prominent human food that has too many calories. Giving a 1-ounce cube of cheddar cheese to a 10-pound cat amounts to a person scarfing two and a half cheeseburgers. Avoid additional treats and substitute extra love instead.
When Is Cheese a No-No?
According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts College, you should avoid giving your cat cheese if they need to decrease their salt consumption and if they have heart disease. Along with cheese, if your kitty is on a low-sodium plan, they must stay away from deli meat, junk food, potato chips, and bread.
If your cat loves cheese and you want to treat them sometimes, it is worth noting that some varieties may be better than others:
Cheddar: One of the most popular cheeses around, cheddar is a semi-hard cheese that does not contain much lactose. However, this doesn't mean that your cat should eat large quantities of cheddar, as it can trigger stomach troubles.
Swiss: Swiss cheese is well-loved among sandwich enthusiasts. Swiss cheese is widely accepted as a healthy cheese for humans since it's high in protein and low in salt and fat. Like cheddar, it has smaller lactose quantities than others, but it can still lead to digestive issues.
Brie: A prominent soft cheese, brie is made with raw milk, which may contain salmonella and listeria, microorganisms that create significant health problems. Like camembert, there are various other natural soft cheeses to stay away from.
Mozzarella: Many cat moms and dads have caught their feline friends creeping into the pizza box, but is all gooey cheese good for your feline? Not so much. Whether raw or processed, soft cheeses like mozzarella are health hazards for cats because they are high in lactose. Cottage cheese and cream cheese present similar threats and must be avoided.
Blue cheese: Know what makes cheese blue? Mold. This type of cheese, including Stilton, is made with a mold of Penicillium cultures, which can be harmful to pets. Consequently, don't feed your cat musty cheeses.
What About Non-dairy Cheeses?
If the dairy content is the cause of trouble, what about the non-dairy options? It turns out this might not be such a great idea either. Another reason cheese isn't the best for cats is its ingredients. Whether dairy or non-dairy, cheeses are packed with salt, fat, and even flavors such as onion or garlic, poisonous to felines. If your cat seems to be bent on getting its paws on any cheese, talk with your vet to find safer alternatives.
Treat Your Cats Right
As natural carnivores, felines get the majority of their nutrients from meat. But that doesn't indicate they can not eat anything else. Instead of treating your cat to cheese, try some of these feline-friendly snacks:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Small amounts of cooked fish
- Boiled egg
Whether you have a finicky feline or an all-they-can-eat cat, ensure that their dietary requirements are satisfied. Understand that some human foods can be harmful to animals. If you need help with a nourishment program for your cat, call your vet to guide you.