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Can Cats Eat Cheese?

5 min read

Cats seem to have an extra sense when it comes to cheese. Whether it’s in the owner’s hand, on the dinner table or the kitchen countertop, they’ll waste no time trying to get their paws on the delicious cube of dairy. But should cats eat cheese?

Have you noticed your cat paying you more attention than usual whenever the cheese is out of the fridge? The unmistakable stare is your feline’s way of pleading for a seat at the table and a slice of that yummy block of dairy you’ve got in your hand. But can cats have cheese as part of their usual diet? Or is cheese actually bad for cats? Keep reading to find out what to do if your furry friend keeps asking you for their fair share of cheesy treats.

 

Can cats eat cheese?

Given our pop culture’s penchant for images of cats lapping up milk, there’s no wonder one of the most enduring feline myths is a cat’s love of dairy. But it turns out milk is not a good idea for cats as most of them are actually lactose intolerant.

So, can cats have cheese? Not if your cat is lactose intolerant or suffers from milk allergy. And even if this is not the case for your pet, cheese should generally be avoided and only fed to them in moderation.

 

Why is cheese bad for cats?

Most cats can’t digest dairy products which means eating milk, cream or cheese could quickly lead to digestive issues such as diarrhoea, constipation or vomiting.

Cat looking at cheese

The explanation has to do with how the feline digestive system evolved. Cats are known as obligate carnivores, meaning they need a diet based mostly on meat to thrive and remain healthy.

This is why when dairy shows up on the menu, chances are their gastrointestinal system will start acting up. A cat’s body can’t produce enough enzymes to digest milk properly, making cheese a problematic dinner choice for felines.

 

Can kittens eat cheese?

Since kitten’s meals consist of milk you may be wondering whether cheese is bad for kittens too. While it’s true that a cat’s ability to produce the lactase enzyme is much better during kittenhood, allowing them to enjoy the milky dinners, by the time they’re able to eat solids such as cheese, that ability is already gone. If you’re not sure what to feed a kitten, find out with our handy guide.

 

Why do cats like cheese?

If cats are not particularly good at digesting cheese, why would they develop such fondness for this particular food?

Cat licking his mouth after eating

Of course, we can’t expect an answer directly from our furry friend, but experts believe that it’s the fat and protein content in cheese that makes them interested in adding it to the menu. Therefore, it’s the protein and fat your cat is actually craving, not the cheese itself.

Can cats have non-dairy cheese?

If the dairy content in cheese is the problem, what about the non-dairy versions? It turns out this might not be such a good idea either. Another reason why cheese isn’t the best treat for cats has to do with ingredients. Whether it’s dairy or non-dairy, cheese comes packed with salt, fat and even spices or additional ingredients such as onion or garlic which can be toxic for felines. Make sure you read the food label before offering that much-craved cube of cheese to your cat. And if your feline seems bent on getting their paws on any slice of cheese in sight, discuss with your vet to find safer alternatives.

 

Can cats eat cheese as a treat?

There are owners who let their cats have an occasional cheesy treat and when it comes to giving your cat a pill, a lump of cheese comes in handy to help medication go down easier for the pet. If you haven’t noticed any reactions and your vet has given you the go-ahead, you can use cheese as a treat every once in a while. Make sure you keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort. Don’t forget that there are plenty of meaty treats cats will enjoy just as much if not even more, so cheese can easily be replaced with feline-friendly alternatives that won’t cause intestinal issues.

The answer to whether cats can have cheese is not a straightforward yes or no. Cheese is not in the risky category of harmful foods for cats, but it’s not the healthiest option either, no matter how happy will make the feline in your life. As always, check with your vet before using cheese as a treat for your cat.

If you want to find out more about cats and milk, we’ve dispelled the most common milk myths in our feeding guide. And if you need inspiration for cat treats alternatives, check out our tips.