Feeding

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Cats eat milk and thus they can eat cheese right? The question “can cats eat cheese” might seem as a really simple one but things are a bit more complex and due to a very common misconception they often lead to problems.

Let us start by saying that most cats are lactose intolerant, a statement that might shock many cat owners. Young kittens (in the first three months) can enjoy a bowl of milk or some cheese but as they grow older their intolerance to dairy products becomes more severe and if you continue feeding them these they will end up with diarrhea and other stomach problems.

The bodies of adult cats cannot produce sufficient lactase, an enzyme needed to break down lactose, and thus the digestion of dairy products isn’t done properly. After drinking their mother’s milk the cats start eating solid foods and don’t need lactase anymore in a natural environment so the lactose intolerance in adulthood is the common state for a cat.

The lactose intolerance can be handled by starting with small amounts of products that might have less lactose (or maybe some yogurt or sour cream) and you can even find some cat food brands that use cheese as a flavor in their selection. Always start with small doses and monitor the reactions of the pet to see if any symptoms of intolerance appear.

You might ask yourself what is the point of trying to feed a cat something that they aren’t tolerating but it seems that, if they get used to it, cheese is actually a good source for proteins. As with humans though it can lead to some weight gain so keep it under control to avoid obesity.

Cats usually enjoy the taste of cheese so don’t leave too much lying around or you will find that it went away and since many types of cheese have a large amount of salt this will cause further problems for your furry friend.
Even if you find out that your pet isn’t by a miracle lactose intolerant, feeding a cat cheese is still not a very good idea.

A cat requires somewhere between 200 and 300 calories a day to stay healthy and a single cheese slice counts for about half of that. Since they still need the nutrients from meat and their other food sources they will only add these calories to the normal diet and thus you will have an overweight cat that can be prone to arthritis, diabetes and liver problems.

The amount of salt recommended for a cat shouldn’t exceed 42 milligrams a day but many types of cheese have around 400 milligrams of salt in just a single slice meaning that they will become too thirsty, can start having kidney problems and even have salt poisoning.

We hope that we have given you ample reasons to think twice before offering your cat a treat made of cheese and remember that these problems can still be present in low lactose cheese (too much salt) or in vegan cheese.

Short answer

No, because adult cats cannot process lactose so any dairy products should be avoided.

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