can cats eat cheese

Can Cats Eat Cheese and Dairy Products

Is there any better way to show your cat some love than by giving it some grade A, tasty and delicious cat food? But, this choice is not easy, considering all of the commercially available brands that are stocked on the market shelves today.

This is exactly the reason why we want to help you choose the right cat food for your feline friend. Along with that, we will aid you in selecting cat treats by simply identifying which ones are safe and which unfortunately are not. Can cats actually eat cheese, dairy or even bread?

By the end of this article, you will gain a clearer perspective on how to keep your pet healthy with the correct cat food choices.

What you need to look for in cat food.

There are exactly 6 nutrient groups that are quintessential in keeping your cat happy and healthy. They are proteins, carbs, fats and oils, vitamins, water, and minerals.

The best cat food should contain the right balance of these 6 nutrient groups. However, there are some exceptions, such as if your cat is pregnant or has certain dietary medical needs.

To simplify it, look specifically for cat food that lists meat as its primary major ingredient, that would be your protein source, and the lesser the number of other ingredients listed, then the healthier the cat food in question is. That also indicates that there is a lower level of food processing present.

  1. Protein

Protein is the primary ingredient that you should look for in your cat’s food. It could come from chicken, fish, beef, and other meat. However, you may ask yourself, what type of fish is best suited for cats?

For example – tuna is a great source of protein for your cat and yes, your cat can eat tuna, in the right amounts of course.

Cats love the taste of fish and can smell it from a mile away. If you don’t give your cat an excess amount of tuna, it can be a healthy treat for it as it is not only high in protein but low in carbs as well. Along with that, tuna can also provide your cat with healthy omega-fatty acids.

With all of these health benefits, it is clear now why a lot of cat food contains the right amount of tuna. The overall problem with tuna is that it should not be given to cats in large quantities as it can lead to mercury poisoning. Paired with the fact that tuna tastes amazing to cats, if given frequently as a treat it can cause the cat to become a picky eater.

What kind of tuna is good for cats?

Pet canned tuna or fresh tuna would be your best bet when choosing. However, if you choose to get the canned variant, then it is better to pick the one that is packed with water rather than oil. But if fresh tuna is more your speed, don’t serve it in a sashimi style. Make sure it is evenly cooked before serving it to your feline friend.

Cheese, on the other hand, is also an amazing source of protein, but is it safe to give to your pet cat? Read on to find out.

Can cats eat cheese ?

Diary products may not present a big problem to us humans, but that’s not the case for cats. We’ve all seen the commercials that have a cat happily lapping at a bowl of milk, and who could blame them, all that fat and protein stored in those dairy products makes it taste amazing.

However, be cautious with cheese because it, along with any other dairy products can cause an upset stomach in cats, and here is exactly the reason why.

When they are still small kittens, they contain the lactase enzyme in their system that makes it easy to digest their mother’s milk. This also makes it necessary for their survival as they can only have that milk and nothing else during the first few weeks of their lives.

If that is the case, can kittens and young cats eat cheese?

It is not recommended to give them cheese as kittens have very specific nutritional requirements. Their bodies are still growing and need the right amount of nutrients to make them both strong and healthy. So, feeding them something that they don’t need, such as cheese, may end up permanently damaging their very sensitive intestines.

By feeding your kittens cheese, you may only think of the side effects that come from their intolerance to lactose, when it could potentially be a sign of a more complex health issue. Take for example, if your kittens, several hours after consuming cheese, start to vomit. You may blame the cheese alone for that when in fact the vomiting may have been caused due to a parasitic infection or a case of a serious health problem such as feline panleukopenia.

As the years go by and the cats get older, the production of the lactase enzyme will slow down and the only food group that they will need is protein, this is why the majority of cats are lactose intolerant.

It is pretty obvious by this point that neither kittens nor adult cats can digest cheese, because unlike us they don’t produce the needed lactase enzyme responsible for breaking down the lactose from dairy products. This, of course, results in an upset stomach, and it is not uncommon to see cats that vomit or have severe diarrhea after eating some cheese or any other kind of dairy product.

One may argue that, despite all of this, cheese is still a great source of protein, and since your cat has been behaving exceptionally well, you want to reward it with a tasty piece of cheese, as a treat. Will it hurt to give them just a little bit? When given in a small amount it should have no consequence afterward so go ahead.

Besides giving it as the occasional treat, when is the appropriate time that cats can eat cheese?

Cheese can be helpful when the cat is sick, as you can entice your cat to take its required medicine by placing it in a small piece of cheese. It is important that you don’t indulge it with too much cheese, since it can only worsen its current medical issue. Cats are lactose intolerant like we said, and too much cheese can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea.

The safest amount you could give your cat is about the size of a six-sided die.

What type of cheese is the best choice for your cat?

Cheese can be found in many different categories, ranging from soft to hard cheese, from mild to strong tasting, etc. And since cats can eat cheese occasionally as a treat, let’s find out which ones are the best to give to your feline friend.

The soft cheese that we mentioned before, is often flavored with herbs such as garlic and chives, should not be given to cats. Additionally, soft cheese usually contains more lactose in them compared to hard cheese such as cheddar.

A great alternative can be vegan cheese that is made out of soy milk, however, check for any reaction from your cat, it may be allergic to soy.

Goat’s milk cheese is usually more digestible, so opting for that choice may be better. It is important that you find one that is pasteurized because if it is not then the cheese can cause the parasite called Toxoplasma gondii to be passed on to your pet.

Low in sodium cheeses such as mozzarella, cream cheese, and cottage cheese contain high lactose levels so steer clear of them.

American cheese has high levels of sodium and fat, but it is low in lactose.

To conclude, white and soft cheeses have a higher amount of lactose, so instead of that, choose harder and more aged cheeses. Some great options are the Swiss cheese variety and extra sharp cheddar, both low in lactose making them good for cats.

Can cats consume cheese if they are not lactose intolerant?

If you are one of the lucky people that own a lactose-tolerant cat, consider yourself at a slight advantage because you still need to be mindful of the quantities that of cheese that you let your cat consume.

That is because any and all cheeses have a high sodium content, and giving your cat too much cheese can result in an increased water intake and unusual urination. Persistence in giving them larger quantities of cheese can lead to hypertension and several kidney problems.

Along with sodium, cheese also has a high-fat content, so too much of it can lead to a plethora of medical problems such as diabetes or joint problems.

Some of the effects that eating cheese can have on lactose intolerant cats are:

-Loss of appetite

-Nausea and vomiting

-Gas and bloating

-Constipation or diarrhea

-Increased thirst

-Dry gums

-Lethargic behavior


If you notice your cat exhibiting any of the above-listed symptoms after they have been given some cheese, your cat is definitely lactose intolerant, and the more cheese it eats the more the symptoms will be apparent and severe.

  1. Carbs

Cats and felines in general are obligate carnivores, which means that can survive on meaty proteins without the need for any carbs or any other nutrient.

Our feline friends have problems when digesting huge quantities of carbs and as a result, they can suffer from an upset stomach and skin allergies. Because of this, it is recommended that you opt for grain free cat food, where instead of grains they use potatoes and green beans as a better source of carbohydrates.

How about bread? Will it upset their stomachs if you give them a bite or two of your morning toast?

Can cats consume bread?

Like cheese, cats can eat bread in small amounts, and they should definitely not be fed bread daily. Make it an occasional tasty treat, as it does not provide any nutritional value to your cat.

Bread does do good when your cat is sick though. Placing a pill inside a soft piece of bread will trick your cat into taking its medicine easily.

But steer clear of flavored bread such as ones with garlic or chives.

Rice is also another carb that we humans regularly consume, but the question is, is it safe enough for your pet cat? Let’s find out, shall we?

Can cats consume rice?

A cat’s digestive system is extremely sensitive so be careful when introducing it to new foods. If your pet is in perfect health then sure, go ahead and give them a small amount of rice on the rare occasion.

Vets all over agree that rice also helps in regulating upset stomachs in cats because this type of grain is easier to digest, unlike other carbs such as pasta, rice is the better choice for stomach pains overall. Make sure to cook the rice, regardless if it’s white or brown, very well and not add any flavoring to it.

If your cat is sick, you can give it its regular food mixed with rice to help treat diarrhea as it is known to firm the cat’s stool and stop dehydration. Here is a list of 10 Human Foods Cats Can Eat.

  1. Fat

Cats need fats in order to maintain their body temperature, provide them with energy and help with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. A cat requires 20 to 25 percent of fat on a daily basis.

In order to choose the right cat food, look for those that have added chicken fat or simple sunflower oil, or olive oil,  along with those that have omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

  1. Vitamins

Your cat needs vitamins to stay healthy so here is a list of all of the vitamins that it requires:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamins B1and B2
  • Vitamins B3 and B6
  1. Minerals

Along with vitamins, minerals are essential to keep in mind when looking for the best cat food. They need to be in the right proportion as they help to balance important functions such as oxygen transport, maintaining the correct pH balance, nutrient absorption and its utilization, and enzyme formation.

The required minerals are:

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Chloride
  • Sodium
  1. Water

Water is an essential component of all living things. That being said, it may come as a surprise to some that cats do not drink enough water

In their evolutionary past, they used to live in places where they had limited amounts of clean water, and as a result, they have adapted to this type of situation and get a majority of the water that they need through the food that they consume.

Wet food is the optimal choice in this matter, you can also mix in a bit of dry kibble if you want.

What to take away from this article

Cats can eat cheese but in very minimal quantities. However, when given the choice, it is still for the best that you do not let your pet cat eat this or any type of dairy product.

Cats are obligate carnivores, and they do not need to include cheese in their diet. They can get their protein from other healthier options and won’t have any negative side effects on your cat’s digestive system. Safety is the main concern!


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