Can My Cat Eat Cheese?

Cheese contains a lot of ingredients that cats will naturally love. The protein, fat, and salt found in cheese ticks a lot of the boxes of what cats will enjoy. The problem is that the amount of some of these ingredients is way higher than anything your cat would eat in the wild.

Other ingredients in cheese can also cause minor health problems in cats when eaten in moderation which can lead to longer term problems if a cat regularly eats cheese. Although some people give cheese as an occasional treat to their cat, we don’t think this is a good idea. Read on to find out why.

Is cheese safe for cats?

Despite what you may have been led to believe in cartoons most cats are lactose intolerant. As milk is the main component of cheese, your cat will probably suffer from an upset stomach by eating large amounts of cheese. This means cheese is safe in small quanitities for cats but larger portions or regualrlly eating cheese may make your cat uncomfortable.

Cats suffering from lactose intolerance can have diarrhea which can be uncomfortable for your cat and leave them dehydrated. Cats that suffer from diarrhea for a long time may develop irritation in their digestive systems causing bleeding and eventually infections. They may also have a poorer gut health as helpful bacteria in their digestive system is flushed out.

Cheese also contains a high amount of fat. Cheddar cheese is typically at least 40% fat. Animal fats are an important part of a cat’s diet, but this is more than they should be consuming in a healthy diet. High fat diets in cats can cause weight problems. Although we tend to dote on larger cats, its not a healthy way for them to live. Overweight cats have a poorer quality of life and are at higher risk of many health problems.  

If your cat sneaks in a bit of cheese while you aren’t looking, they will probably be okay. They have an upset stomach for a bit they should recover on their own. You should support them by making sure they stay hydrated. You should avoid regularly feeding your cat cheese as this is where the real problems of feeding cats dairy products come from.

Can I use cheese as a treat for my cat?

Most cats will enjoy eating cheese if they manage to get their paws on it and some popular cat treats even come in cheese flavoured varieties. An occasional crumble of cheese isn’t great for your cat’s health but probably won’t cause any significant harm either. Although most cats are lactose intolerant they should be able to process small amounts of dairy without causing tummy problems.

That being said, there are many other healthier treats that your cat will also love so there really isn’t any need to give them cheese. Healthier alternatives could include wet food treats or even chunks of poached chicken. Its best to stick to foods that would align with your cat’s natural diet when it comes to feeding your cat.

If you really want to feed your cat cheese you should ideally pick a safer variety of cheese for them. This would be any cheese that has a low amount of lactose. Typically, this would include harder cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and gouda. Avoid cheeses that have additional flavours mixed in. Garlic, raisins, and citrus are occasionally mixed in to fancier cheeses and can be harmful or deadly to your cat even in small quantities.  

Summary

Cats may suffer from an upset stomach if they manage to eat a small amount cheese but this should pass by itself. You should avoid regularly feeding your cat cheese as it can harm their digestive system and is probably too fatty to be a part of their regular diet. Treating your cat to some cheese occasionally is okay but there are many other alternative treats that you can turn to that will align with your cat’s natural diet better.