Cat Food

Can cats eat cheese? What cheese can cats eat?

Cheese slices

Is it ok for me to feed cats cheese? Perhaps your furry feline sneakily stole some and you’re worried if it’s safe for your cat to each cheese. We know that we did when it first happened to us!

Cats can eat plain cheese in small quantities. They’re lactose intolerant as they don’t naturally eat cheese in the wild, so keep this to a minimum. More importantly, completely avoid flavoured cheese as it can contain ingredients that can lead to diarrhoea or vomiting.

The answer isn’t as simple as that. Our comprehensive article goes into a lot more deal, so read on to learn the specifics.

Should cats eat cheese?

Felines are obligate carnivores, which means that they eat meat in the wild. Their natural diet is high in protein, moderate in fat and also includes a small amount of carbohydrates. Consequently, meat should be one of the main ingredients in their daily diet.

Suggested article: Can cats eat raw chicken?

Cats have the reputation of being curious creatures, so you may have noticed your furry friend giving you pleading stare when cutting or eating cheese or other dairy items. You may feel the urge to give your cat some cheese. But should you?

Being meat eaters, cats don’t naturally come across dairy products such as cows milk, cheese or butter in the wild. Dairy contains lactose, and unfortunately, cats are lactose intolerant. As a result, you should avoid giving your cat normal cow milk or cheese, as this may cause diarrhoea or vomiting.

The positive is that in most cases felines tend to consume some varieties of cheese in moderate amounts without giving them an upset tummy. For example, nothing will happen if your cat eats cheese that’s plain and doesn’t contain any additive ingredients (eg. fruits or vegetables).

Felines and cheese

“Is cheese bad for cats?” is one of the most common questions that might creep up in your mind and the answer is not that simple by any means. You’ll come across several varieties of cheese out there which do not contain the identical ingredients. In fact, several of these ingredients can make your cat ill and potentially kill them.

Several of the harmful ingredients include onion and garlic. Essentially, any food item belonging to the Allium food family is considered to be detrimental for your furry pet.

As a matter of fact, foodstuff such as green onions, onions, garlic, chives, as well as leeks can damage your cat’s health. Some of the food items consist of organosulfur that can lead to the breakdown of the red blood cells present within the cat’s system. This is due to the oxidative damage caused by hemoglobin that can result in anemia in the long run.

Anaemia can even result in the death of the cat, as it usually affects cats much more than dogs. Therefore, be sure to keep cheeses that’s onion and/or garlic flavoured away from your pet. Onion, garlic, plus other plants are also included in cheese spread. Therefore, it would be sensible to be careful and keep flavoured spreads in the fridge or cupboard, and not left unattended on the table.

Even if it appears that there are no harmful ingredients in your cheese, please check and check again before giving any cheese to your cat.

Cheese being cut on cutting board

Why do cats like cheese?

You may have noticed that your cat has a particular attraction to things that you’ve noticed; namely cheese. However, if cheese can be harmful or even fatal to cats, then why do they want to eat it in the first place?

Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are some of the macronutrients which scientists say your furry friend needs in its daily diet. In spite of the fact that cheese does not consist of plenty of carbohydrates, it is definitely full of protein and fat. This will be sufficient to explain the reason why felines tend to become attracted to cream cheese, ice cream, and other food items which are full of lactose.

However, will it be sensible for them to consume eat cheese when they like? Is cheese risk-free for the felines? Is cheese dangerous to cats?

Cats need fat and protein in their daily diet, and for this reason, it might appear to be a sensible idea to provide your pet with some cheese from time to time.

Would it be a sensible idea for you to feed your cat cheese? Well, although it might not be a bad idea you can avoid products which have been prepared from cow’s milk so as to prevent any possible digestion problems. A good alternative for cats is goat milk cheese or maybe some ice cream. Nevertheless, always go for pasteurized cheese.

There are different types of dairy-free and lactose options out there too. Hemp, coconut, soy, rice, and almond milk products will be a fantastic choice, they all consist of varying quantities of protein as well as fat. Cats tend to be quite choosy regarding the texture of their food items, so remember this while selecting food items which are not dairy products whatsoever.

Is cheese harmful to cats?

Cheese happens to be a dairy product, and it is essential for an enzyme named lactase to be present in it so that the cheese can be digested properly after consumption. If a cat is intolerant to lactose, it won’t have sufficient levels of lactase.

Nevertheless, intolerance of lactose typically implies that your system contains some lactase; however, it is not adequate for breaking down large quantities of food items which consist of lactose.

Lactose happens to be a special variety of sugar which consists of galactose and glucose. It is present in all food items that contain milk. It is a fact that the majority of the felines out there are not tolerant of lactose, although their numbers are much lower than that of the human beings.

Once they begin to consume more quantities of solid foods, their system is going to adapt and a lesser amount of lactase will be generated.

As a result, your feline might prefer having small quantities of cheese at times or even avoid it altogether. It depends entirely on the cat and what you’ve been feeding it so far.

Bengal cat licking lips

Is cheese okay for my cat?

Well, it might not be possible for you to have any idea until you end up feeding your feline some cheese. It is vital that you select your cheese sensibly.

In fact, the softer varieties of cheese will contain more lactose. Consequently, make it a point to go for the harder varieties as well as aged ones.

Provide your cat with a small chunk of cheese and observe carefully whether she or he suffers from a digestive problem.

If your cat is intolerant to lactose, you might notice diarrhoea and gas problems. This will indicate that your pet should not have any dairy products whatsoever.

However, in case that there are no problems, then it’s ok for your feline to have a small amount of cheese from time to time, but please make sure to go for the low lactose varieties.

Can cats eat cheese with a high salt content?

Although cheese in moderate quantities isn’t harmful to your cat, there is one ingredient that can prove to be harmful to your cat. That ingredient is, of course, salt.

As a matter of fact, consuming an excessive amount of salt might lead to hypertension as well as kidney issues amongst cats.

On the other hand, vets suggest that high salt diets can help dissolve calcium stones in cats that suffer from them.

Can cats eat soft cheese?

The softer varieties of cheese include cream cheese, cottage cheese, as well as mozzarella. However, it is already known to us that softer varieties of cheese consist of more lactose. But can felines consume cream cheese or cottage cheese at all?

Due to the high levels of lactose that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, we strongly advise that you don’t feed your cat soft cheese.

Can cats eat hard cheese?

Harder cheese varieties usually have lower lactose content, and therefore, they are typically better options for cats than soft cheese.

Can cats eat smoked cheese?

Smoked cheese is the best, right?! But can cats eat smoked cheese?

As mentioned previously, cats will find it easier to digest some types of cheese more than the others. Consequently, while providing your feline with smoked cheese it all depends on the particular type of cheese.

Simply go for hard cheese that doesn’t contain any additional ingredients.

Can cats eat unpasteurized cheese?

No, cats should avoid consuming unpasteurized cheese.

It has been shown by research that unpasteurized goat milk encourages the harmful Toxoplasma gondii parasite to enter the body of your feline. This parasite can lead to toxoplasmosis in humans. Therefore, make sure that your cat only eats pasteurized cheese.

Cat standing in litter

Will my cat get diarrhoea from eating cheese?

It will depend on the particular type of cheese and also the quantity of lactose.

It is a fact that cats don’t produce sufficient amount of enzymes required for breaking down the dairy items that are high in the content of lactose. Some felines tend to react more strongly than others.

In case your pet exhibits any indication of an upset stomach after consuming cheese, it’s advisable to stop giving that cheese. If the situation becomes worse, always consult your vet.

Can cheese help treat lactose intolerance in cats?

Some cats can consume small quantities of cheese without any side effects. However, it does not imply that others will also be able to eat them without any harmful effects at all. Never try to feed your pet cheese simply because your neighbour does it!

Consuming cheese will not be able to modify whether a feline is intolerant to lactose or not.

Can kittens eat cheese?

You might be tempted to feed cheese to your little kitten so that they get more nutrients when growing. However, this won’t help as developing kittens will produce smaller quantities of lactose.

Cat cheese treats

Since cats can eat small quantities of plain cheese, we’ve included a few methods of giving cheese as treats to your cat:

  • crumble a small piece of cheese over any dry food item
  • blend the cheese crumbles along with wet food items
  • small piece of Swiss or cheddar (cut thin)

Substitutes for cheese for cats

In case you made a decision to stop providing your pet with cheese, then an alternative option for treats would be cooked chunks of chicken, turkey or fish. I personally feed Coco (my cat) Feringa’s salmon snacks.

Summary: can cats eat cheese

Is it possible for cats to eat cheese and remain healthy? Definitely, they should consume it in small amounts. However, everything depends on the pet itself!

You’ll know your cat can eat cheese if there are no side effects after feeding your furry friend small bits of plain hard cheese. It won’t hurt to feed tolerant cats some cheese from time to time, but remember to keep them small and low-salt.

If you have any concerns, consult your local vet.


About the author

Kacper Jednorowicz

Hi, I'm Kacper! I have a four-year-old female Bengal cat, called Coco. She's an active and friendly indoor cat that lives with us in the UK, but also enjoys several hours a day in the garden. Just like any responsible and loving cat owner, I want to ensure that she's a happy and healthy cat! My articles cover guides and reviews based on professional vet advice, our own experiences with Coco and plenty of research!

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Our furry friend is a four-year-old Bengal girl called Coco – she’s crazy, has plenty of energy and is VERY noisy! More about us.