Cats are the internet’s favorite pets. There are millions of videos of cats eating something. If you search “cat eating cheese,” you can find roughly 600 million results where less than 1% are videos. But is it ok for cats to eat cheese?
Yes, cats can eat cheese without having any adverse side effects. However, your cat should have cheese as a treat because of its fat and lactose content.
Regardless of what movies and TV series have taught us about cats, they shouldn’t consume large amounts of dairy. It is a common misconception regarding cats. But don’t worry if you have been feeding cheese or any other dairy product to your cat; they won’t die from it. We will explain in more detail the dietary needs of a cat and its relationship with cheese.
Understanding Cat’s Dietary Needs
You will find thousands of cat articles that will tell you they must eat only meat. These feline companions have been eating meat protein for thousands of years. It is part of their instincts; that’s why you find dry food is usually meat-flavored. But, modern-day cats are attracted to other types of food, including dairy.
The problem with dairy is that it contains a lot of carbs. It is challenging for cats to digest carbs because their bodies lack the enzymes necessary to do it efficiently. Moreover, when it comes to dairy, we have high amounts of lactose, and cats are intolerant to it.
You might be wondering, how come cats are lactose intolerant? Don’t they drink milk before they start eating solid foods? Yes, they drink milk after they are born. But, once they are weaned, cats lose the ability to break down milk.
It doesn’t mean your cat shouldn’t drink milk or eat cheese. It is just that its digestion process will be slower. It can make your cat sick because milk fats can start fermenting in their bodies, causing stomach aches.
Cats Relationship With Cheese
Your cat will definitely love cheese. It will be attracted to its high-fat content. Your feline will be excited to enjoy this delicacy with you. Let’s see which types of cheese you can freely share with your pet and which ones are not recommended.
Cheese Types Your Cat Can Eat
Now that you understand the implications of cats and cheese let’s review some of the recommended cheese types for your cat.
- Blue cheese
When choosing a piece of cheese for your cat, you should look for something that:
- Has aged
- Is hard
Lactose primarily occurs in milk’s whey; when the cheese ages, it loses most whey. Also, people remove whey when doing hard cheese.
Cheese Types Your Cat Should Avoid
Based on the information you have received up to this point, you probably know which cheese you ought not to give to your cat. Below, we have compiled a list of a few of them you should never feed your pet.
These soft cheeses are high in lactose because they come with a lot of whey content. For instance, the liquid you find in ricotta cheese is whey from milk.
Other Cheese Related Products
Up to this point, the rule of thumb is to find a hard cheese for your cat. Anything soft or spreadable is a big no. Some of the cheese products include:
- Cream cheese
Cream cheese is usually high in fat and sodium. Additionally, some presentations include chives, onions, and garlic, which are toxic to cats.
The popular snack is a big no for your cat. You could throw a puff at your furry friend. But, it contains a lot of sodium which is not beneficial for your cat.
The main ingredient in this dessert is cream cheese, which is part of our list of cheeses your cat shouldn’t eat. Also, since it is a dessert, it comes packed with a lot of sugar.
What Happens If You Feed Too Much Cheese To Your Cat
We have listed what things you should and shouldn’t feed your cats, but we haven’t explained the drawbacks of cheese consumption in felines.
Most foods fall under one of three macronutrients; they are classified as fat, protein, or carbs. The classification depends on which nutrient is more present than the rest. Cheese falls under fats because its protein content comes second.
If your cat overeats fat, it could develop a weight problem. Nowadays, it is common to find overweight cats because most domestic felines don’t have enough physical activity compared to their caloric intake. So, if your pet consumes more energy than they spend, their bodies will start to build up fat.
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You might be thinking, what’s the problem with an overweight cat? They don’t usually move enough. Additionally, other health conditions come along with obesity. Obesity can reduce your pet’s lifespan; once they start gaining weight, it would be more difficult for them to move around. You may find kidney issues, muscle weakness, and articulation problems among the side effects for cats.
Even if your cat doesn’t overeat, there are other risks associated with cheese consumption. We already mentioned that cats’ digestive system could not efficiently break down lactose or any carbs. It means that cheese will remain inside their stomachs for a longer time compared to other food. Your cat can feel distressed for not being able to defecate as usual. Additionally, some owners have reported vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating as symptoms after their cat ate cheese.
Your cat will not immediately die from it. But you should be careful and observe its behavior; if you notice any of the symptoms we mentioned, you should visit the vet. Vomiting and diarrhea can dehydrate your pet. A specialist would be able to diagnose and treat any condition that your cat may have.
What Benefits Cats Get From Cheese
It is not all bad news about cheese for your cat. While we recommend it, you should only feed it as a treat.
Your cat can get many nutrients from cheese. For instance, cheddar and blue cheese have the lowest amount of carbs. Also, they are high in protein, bringing more than 20 g of protein per 100 g serving.
Swiss and parmesan cheese have more carbs content when compared to cheddar and blue. But they also have a significant amount of protein per 100 g; parmesan cheese brings more than 30 g of protein per serving while Swiss cheese has roughly 27 g.
Additionally, cheese is an excellent source of calcium, a mineral your cat needs for several body functions. Your cat needs calcium to keep a healthy nervous system. Additionally, this mineral helps with maintaining kidney functions and strong bones and teeth. If your female cat has given birth or is still nursing kittens, it will need a lot of calcium to keep up with milk production.
Another essential nutrient found in cheese is vitamin B12. Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 helps your cat’s digestive system. It benefits the liver, stomach, intestines, and pancreas.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can cats have cheese as a treat?
Yes, they can. It is the recommended way to include cheese in your cat’s diet.
How much cheese can a cat eat?
Your cat should have a small piece of cheese, no bigger than 3/4 of an inch.
Can cats die from eating cheese?
No, your cat won’t die from eating cheese. However, it can develop health problems from excessive cheese consumption.
Final Thoughts About Cats And Cheese
Feel free to share a piece of cheese with your cat. Make sure you watch out for the amount and type of cheese.
Even though it shouldn’t be part of your cat’s diet, it won’t harm anyone if you share a treat every once in a while. Your cat will love it, and why not give it a try if it will make your cat happy?
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.