Cheese tastes amazing. That is why it’s loved by many people all around the world. It makes a perfect addition to any pasta dish and is a must-have ingredient between every sandwich. It makes everything taste better and that’s why we love it so much. If you have a cat, then you might want to give her some cheese as well, but can cats eat cheese?
Can Cats Eat Cheese? The Short Answer!
The short answer would be no, cats cannot eat cheese. The main problem with cheese for cats is that cheese is made out of milk, which is difficult for most cats to digest. On top of that, cheese is also dangerously salty and too fattening for cats.
Most Cats Are Lactose Intolerant
It’s a common misconception that dairy products such as cheese and milk are good for cats. In reality, most cats are lactose intolerant and cannot digest cheese and other dairy products.
Cats’ bodies simply do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed for the body to break down lactose (milk sugar).
And because their bodies are unable to break down lactose, it cannot properly digest dairy products — the ingestion of dairy products is likely to cause an upset stomach and diarrhea.
Don’t take it this the wrong way, though. Lactose intolerance in cats is not a problem. It’s the natural order of things.
Kittens drink their mother’s milk for the first two to three months. During the breast feeding period their bodies produce enough lactase for them to be able to properly digest breast milk. However, once the breast feeding period is over and kittens are weaned onto solid foods, their bodies stop to produce lactase.
Cheese Is Not Good for Cats Because It’s Fattening
While lactose intolerance in cats is a lot more common than it is in humans, some adult cats are still able to digest lactose. If you suspect that your cat is not lactose intolerant, then it might seem like a good idea to give her some cheese, but is it really?
Well, no, it is still not a good idea to feed your cat cheese, because cheese is also too fattening for cats.
Depending on the size, your cat needs about 200 to 300 calories a day to maintain her body-weight.
A single slice of cheese already contains 113 calories. That’s about half of the daily calorie intake need for cats. However, if you’d feed your cat a slice of cheese, then she would most likely still eat a normal amount of other food as well and greatly exceed her daily calorie intake need.
This is not a problem if you only feed your cat cheese a few times a year, but if you regularly feed your cat cheese, then she will quickly start to put on extra weight. This can lead to obesity and health problems caused by obesity.
For example, obesity can lead to arthritis, diabetes and liver diseases in cats. Needless to say, if you care about your cat, it’s smart to keep cheese and other highly fattening foods away from her.
Cheese Is Too Salty for Cats
Another reason why cats cannot eat cheese is that cheese contains a lot of salt.
While cats do need to have some salt in their diet, the amount of salt they need is very small — around 21 milligrams per day.
Because in high amounts salt is dangerous, even deadly, for cats, the National Research Council recommends not to feed your cat more than 42 milligrams of salt in a day.
Now, one single slice of cheese contains about 174 milligrams of sodium, which is about 400 milligrams of salt. That’s nearly 10 times the recommended upper limit of salt for cats in a day.
That definitely is too much salt for your tiny feline friend. That is why your cat is likely to be excessively thirsty after eating some cheese. The excessive thirst, however, is a sign of salt poisoning in cats and should not be taken lightly.
While a single slice of cheese doesn’t contain enough salt to be life-treating to your cat, it will cause excess thirst and urination, putting extra stress on the kidneys.
Because cheese contains so much salt, it’s definitely for the best not to give your cat any cheese at all.
Cheese and Other Dairy Products Are Not a Natural Part of a Feline’s Diet
When you were a kid, you probably saw pictures of cats drinking milk on books and TV. That is why you might think that it’s a normal thing for cat to drink milk and eat cheese, but it is not.
Cheese is made out of cow’s milk. In the wild, a cat would never drink cow’s milk. Kittens drink the milk from their mom until they are weaned onto solid foods, after that they do not need any more milk. So, there’s absolutely no reason for you to feed your cat cheese or other dairy products.
Can Cats Eat Low Lactose Cheese?
Because cats have a problem digesting lactose, you might think that it would be okay to give your cat some low lactose cheese, but is it? Well, no, low lactose cheese would still be too fattening and salty for cats to eat.
What About Vegan Cheese?
As the vegan lifestyle is becoming more and more popular with each day, you might want to give your cat some vegan cheese instead for the regular cheese. You might think that as vegan cheese is not made out of milk but soy, it doesn’t contain any lactose and cats should have no problem digesting it.
However, vegan cheese too is problematic for cats.
For one, a lot of cats are allergic to soy. For two, vegan cheese still contain a lot of salt and fat, making it an unhealthy choice for a feline.
Feeding Human Food to Cats
As humans can tolerate a lot more salt than cats, our food usually contains a lot more salt than is safe for our pet cats. As a good rule of thumb, remember never to give your cat processed foods made for us humans.
Conclusion on Can Cats Eat Cheese?
The answer to the question “Can cats eat cheese?” is definitely no. Eating a tiny piece of cheese might not cause any serious harm to your cat’s health, but it will definitely do more harm than good. As little as one slice of cheese already contains a dangerous amount of salt and too many calories for our feline friends.