Can Cats Eat Cheese? – Answered In Detail

Have You Ever Wondered If Cats Can Eat Cheese?

Maybe your cat stole a bite of your grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, or maybe you just used a little cream cheese to bribe your cat into taking a medicine. It’s usually a good idea to do some research to make sure a new human food is safe before giving it to your cat.

Many of the foods that people eat are safe for cats to eat, and some are even beneficial to give cats in moderation. However, some “human foods” are bad for cats to eat because they make cats sick (such vomiting or diarrhea) or because they are poisonous to cats. Unfortunately, cheese is not a good choice for your pet. Cats can safely eat tiny amounts of many human foods as healthful treats.

Advantages Of Cheese For Cats

Unfortunately, there aren’t many benefits of feeding cheese to cats. Although cheese of all kinds (whether cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, or Parmesan) can be a healthy source of protein for humans, cheese is not well suited to a cat’s nutritional needs.

Because cats are obligate carnivores (which means that the majority of their diet should be comprised of meat), they benefit most from foods that are high in protein, but low in fat and carbohydrates.

This is especially true of domestic house cats, which tend to have lower overall calorie needs, so they shouldn’t eat foods high in fat. Cheese does contain a high protein content, but it also contains a lot of fat.

Risks Of Cheese For Cats

Although decades ago it was thought that one of the best snacks for a cat was a bowl of milk, we now know that cats do not digest dairy well. In fact, lactose intolerance is something that’s very common in cats.

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Cats that are lactose intolerant don’t digest the sugar lactose found in milk and other dairy products like yogurt and cheese. If a cat eats milk it can result in a very upset tummy, with diarrhea and sometimes vomiting.

Some cats can actually tolerate milk OK, but it’s still not good to feed a lot of milk from a nutrition standpoint.

Although cheese typically has less lactose than cow’s milk ( hard cheeses have less lactose than soft cheeses), cheese still has the potential to upset a cat’s stomach. When you couple cheese’s lactose content with the fact that it’s high in fat and calories, it all adds up to a poor snack choice for cats.

How Can I Give My Cat Cheese Safely?

Cat owners should not choose to feed cheese to cats on a regular basis because it’s not healthy for cats, but cheese itself is not toxic or poisonous to cats. In fact, some commercial cat treats are cheese flavored, although they have been made specifically for cats.

Although you should try to keep cheese away from your cat, if your cat sneaks a small piece of cheese from your sandwich or licks a bit of cottage cheese from your bowl, do not worry—it’s not likely to cause too many issues.

Do your best to keep cheese out of your cat’s diet. In addition to the tummy upset that cheese might cause, the excessive calories and high fat content of cheese can contribute to obesity, which is a serious problem in cats.

If your cat eats a large amount of cheese, keep a close eye on her to watch for digestive issues in the form of diarrhea or possibly vomiting. If your cat seems to be very ill after eating a large amount of cheese, contact your veterinarian to ask if she should be examined.

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There is one instance when feeding your cat a smidgen of cheese should be OK. It’s notoriously hard to pill a cat.

If your cat temporarily needs to take medication, and your cat really likes cheese, it’s fine to wrap the pill in a tiny bit of cheese (good types of cheese to do this include cream cheese or some other soft cheese) so she will take the medication easily. Just be sure not to overdo it and if your cat seems to suffer any ill effects from the cheese, try something else like a tiny bit of low-sodium deli meat.

Bottom Line

Although cats can safely enjoy small amounts of many human foods as healthy treats, cheese is unfortunately not a good choice for your furry friend. Some better treat options for cats include commercial cat treats, tiny bits of canned tuna, scrambled or hardboiled egg, or plain cooked chicken.

Always double check with your veterinarian before giving your cat any new foods and make sure not to overdo it with treats, which should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s total food intake for the day, with the remainder coming from her complete and balanced cat food.