Can Cats Eat Cheese?

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Now, who doesn’t love that creamy & yummy taste of cheese? As popular as cheese is among humans, it enjoys a similar fondness among the feline community or in simple terms, the “Cats.” But is it really safe for you to feed your favorite pet a slice of cheese, or it is fair to keep it safe inside the fridge?

 

 

If cats would have functioned in a way similar to our body, it is highly unlikely that they would have experienced any severe side effects. However, the answer here is straightforward. Given the fact that cats do not have similar body functionality as humans, their reaction to cheese can vary in terms of the ingredients carried in the cheese block.

So, is cheese actually bad for cats? Or can they enjoy a slice every now and then? Let’s understand the answer to this question in detail. But before we do that, let’s take a look at some human food items that should be avoided in the feline diet.

  • Caffeine-Packed Drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Raw Meat, Eggs, Fat Trimmings, and Fish
  • Garlic
  • Onion

 

Should you feed your cat cheese?

 

 

Cats belong to the “Felidae” family, which comes under the same umbrella as the animals such as:

  • Jaguar
  • Puma
  • Cheetah
  • Lion
  • Tiger
  • Lynx

They are obligate carnivores. This means their main diet is meat, and they need it to survive and lead a healthy life.

A normal, healthy cat’s diet will most probably not include any dairy items such as cheese. However, there is something that you must have noticed about your pet cat. These creatures are curious by nature. They are known to keep a constant eye on their owners or human companions. This stands especially true for the food items being consumed by humans.

You also might have noticed that certain items on your plate get more stares by your kitty as opposed to other food items. Dairy products certainly top this list. In order to get their hands on, or in this case, their paws on the dairy item, they will emit a solicitation meow to get your attention.

Your cat’s meow sound can reflect several emotions, such as:

  • Hunger
  • Anger
  • Scared
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Pained
  • Curious

And so on. However, in this case, the sound definitely suggests longing packed with temptation for that luxurious cheese.

If this desperate and needy meow is constant with your feline when you are eating cheese, then you might be tempted to feed him/her a slice or more. The good news here is the fact that cats are eligible to eat various forms of cheese in tiny portions. Take note of the word “Tiny” here. This means the portion you feed them shouldn’t be too much. In a sense, a bit of cheese slice every once in a while won’t get them ill.

Another factor you need to consider before feeding your cat cheese is the ingredients used in the making of the cheese. Relief from health risks only stands true as long as that cheese is of plain variety with no constituents that might harm them.

 

Cheese and Cats: The Relationship

 

 

The question “Should Cats Eat Cheese?” has a broad range of answers which cannot be expressed with a simple “Yes” or “No.” There are multiple variants of cheese available in the market that does not share similar ingredients. Some of these ingredients include onion and garlic. In essence, any food item belonging to the family “Allium” is harmful to the cat.

Green onions, chives, onions, leaks, and garlic, are certain food items that can lead to several health issues among the cats. The organosulfide component present in these items can lead to abnormal RBC breakdown in the cat’s body. This occurs due to oxidative damage caused by organosulfides in the hemoglobin. It can also lead to anemia.

Now, we all know that uncontrolled anemic onset can even be a life-threatening condition. This issue affects cats more than dogs. So, it is advised that you keep those onion and garlic-flavored cheese slices away from the pets.

You can also find onion, garlic, and similar spices added to the cheese spreads as well. This is why you need to be careful when it comes to selecting the right kind of food for your feline partner. Even if there is an instance that your cheese block looks like it doesn’t carry such spices, it is critical that you check the ingredients present in the packaging to ensure that it is free from such spices and condiments.

Other spices flavoring added to cheese include:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Celery Seeds
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Thyme
  • Dill
  • Red Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Chilli

With the exception of chili and paprika, all these condiments might be fine with your cat. However, you always need to cross-check with your vet to confirm any possibility for reactions.

 

Why do cats love cheese?

If you own a pet cat that is known to beg to each little scrap of the food items you consume, you should ask yourself whether your cat actually loves cheese or just food in general. Also, if any variant of cheese makes a cat ill, why do they still hunt for a chance to gnaw on them?

As per studies, the cats are more likely to pick food items based upon their dietary requirements. Certain micronutrients such as protein, fat, as well as carbohydrates comprise of the things that cats require for the completion of their diet.

Here is a nutritional content chart for commonly sold cheese variants:

 

Nutritional Content Per-100 g

Cheese Water (g) Protein (g) Fats (g) Carbs (g)
Feta 55.2 14.2 21.3 4.1
Swiss 37.1 26.9 27.8 5.4
Cheddar 36.8 24.9 33.1 1.3
Cottage 80 11.1 4.3 3.4
Mozzarella 50 22.2 22.4 2.2

 

While cheese might not hold ample carbohydrates, it is packed with a lot of protein and fat content. This fairly explains why the feline community goes crazy over items such as cream cheese, ice cream, and similar food items that come loaded with lactose.

But do they need to eat them? Even with so much temptation lingering around, cheese might not be something to feed your cat on a daily basis.

 

Is Cheese-based Item Safe for Cats?

Since cats have no need or cravings for fat or protein, it seems like a perfect idea for you to slip in a slice of cheese into your pet’s diet. So, can you really give cheese to your cats? Well, doing this might be a fine idea, but you should skip products created from the cow’s milk in order to avoid any potential issues in the intestine. The milk product that actually gels well with your cat’s digestive system is ice cream or cheese made out of goat milk.

You also need to note that pasteurized variety of milk products is good for your cat. If you are on a lookout for much safer options, you can surely find varieties of dairy and lactose-free options on the market.

Products made from

  • Rice milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Soy milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Almond milk

can be the right choice for your feline friend.

However, all these products have varying portions of protein and fat. For example, if you get access to soy milk, you will find that it has more protein with less fat as opposed to dairy milk. On the other hand, hemp milk houses more protein and fat when compared to dairy products. Soy, Coconut, and almond milk have a smoother and thicker texture as opposed to rice milk or hemp.

Most cats tend to be picky when it comes to food texture. So, you need to keep this particular fact in mind as you pick your dairy alternate.

 

Is cheese or cheese-product terrible for your cat?

If your cats are eligible for having cheese, you might want to understand if the same is deteriorating their health.

Well, to simplify it, cheese is sold in the market under the tab “Dairy Products.” In order to digest dairy products properly, one should possess an enzyme termed as lactase. However, if someone is lactose intolerant, they lack this particular enzyme.

In general, the word intolerance suggests that the body houses lactase but in small amounts, which isn’t enough for breaking down the large food amounts with lactose content.

Lactose is actually a unique form of sugar, which is comprised of galactose and glucose. It is the main ingredient in most items that consist of milk. Talking about cats, most of them are lactose intolerant in some or the other way. They house a small amount of lactase. However, this amount isn’t as high as that of an average human.

Cats house the varying amounts of lactase enzyme, which is highly abundant among the newly born kittens. This is why; the young and newly-born felines can easily digest and consume the milk during the nursing period. With time, when the felines shift over to solid foods, their bodies experience decreasing tolerance for lactase-based products.

In short, your cat is just like your friend, who is lactose intolerant but can eat small portions of cheese occasionally rather than avoiding dairy products altogether. However, the quantity can vary from one cat to another.

 

Is cheese suitable for cats?

After reading through all this information, you might be asking yourself whether it is safe for your cat to eat cheese or if there could be a health issue. You might have no idea of what works with your pet unless you have already fed him/her a slice of cheese. However, your pet isn’t something to experiment with. In order to make sure your feline doesn’t face any health issues, you should start slow with harder varieties of cheese.

Talking about the varieties of cheese, the one with softer texture houses more lactose content. However, the harder varieties and the ones that are aged, come with a relatively lower level of lactose content. You can start with the Swiss Cheese and Extra Sharp Cheddar. If your cat is intolerant to these variants and shows any digestion issues, you can confirm that your pet is lactose intolerant.

Cheese With High Lactose Content

Type of Cheese Lactose Content-Range
Feta 4.1 and Higher
Ricotta 0.2-5.1%
Colby 1.6-5.2%
American 1.6-5.2%
Velveeta 9.3 and Higher
American (Pasteurized) 0-14.2%

 

 

If your pet cat is lactose intolerant, extreme cases will note instances of gas and diarrhea in a short span of time. These signs suggest that your feline should stay away from dairy products. If you do not see any health issues surfacing, you can make them happy with a small amount every now and then. However, you should try and stick with cheese-options that come with low-lactose content. Here is a list of some of the low-lactose content cheese options that might be safe for your pet feline.

 

Low-Lactose Content Cheese Options:

Cheese Type Lactose Content-Range
Muenster 0-1.1%
Camembert 0-1.8%
Brie 0-2%
Cheddar 0-2.1%
Provolone 0-2.1%
Gouda 0-2.2%
Blue 0-2.5%
Parmesan 0-3.2%
Swiss 0-3.4%

Can cats consume cheese with high-salt proportions?

The high protein and fat content in the cheese block might be sufficient to make your cat purr with happiness. However, there is an ingredient that is found in cheese, which might not be great for your cat. This additive is actually salt or sodium chloride.

So, you might consider replacing cheese with better food options such as:

  • Cooked Carrots
  • Eggs (Cooked)
  • Pumpkin
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Salmon or Tuna (Cooked)

An enhanced level of sodium chloride can lead to hypertension & kidney issues in the felines. However, vets always suggest a diet high in salt for the cats that tend to suffer from calcium stones. This is because of the fact that salt assists with the proper dissolving of these stones.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can my cat eat the soft cheese?

Some variants of soft cheese popular in the market include cream cheese, cottage cheese, as well as mozzarella. However, introducing your cat to cheese with such high lactose content can be harsh on their digestive system. It is generally advised that you keep the feeding habits to harder cheese slides as opposed to the softer ones.

Moreover, hard cheese is also low in sodium content.

Should my cat eat the hard cheese?

Harder cheeses tend to be better for your pet as they house lower lactose content. Since most cats tend to be lactose intolerant and it helps avoid the harsh effects of cheese if you stick with a harder variant of this item.

Can cats consume smoked cheese?

Smoked cheese is an absolute favorite among humans. But, when we talk about smoked cheese, the ultimate question comes down to the type of cheese and its ingredients. So, a smoked version of cheese will be safe, depending upon its variant and the ingredients present inside it.

Can my cat eat an unpasteurized cheese slice?

No, it is best for your cat to avoid the consumption of unpasteurized cheese. Several studies over the years have noted that unpasteurized milk from goat tends to come from the cold-enzyme process, which allows the parasite named Toxoplasma gondii to pass into your feline’s body. This parasite has been known to cause toxoplasmosis among humans. The effects on feline are yet unknown.

However, it is advised that one should opt for pasteurized milk cheese in order to avoid complications.

Can cheese lead to an upset stomach for your cat?

While some cats might react strongly to even the slightest chunk of cheese, others might not respond or show any physical signs at all. It all boils down to the amount of lactase being produced in your cat’s body.

If your cat has been showing an adverse reaction to cheese, it is wise that you play safe and talk to your vet.

 

Final Words

So, the answer to your question “Can Cats Eat Cheese” is not a direct one. Depending upon factors such as ingredients, variety, salt content, and texture, your cat can safely consume cheese. However, it is advised that the amount should be small and harder in texture.

Apart from this, you need to understand that some cats are lactose intolerant. So, if they eat dairy products, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. So, ensure that your cat can consume lactose before adding cheese to her diet. For more information, explore the internet.