Can Cats Safely Eat Cheese?

Posted by Erin McDade
Cat reaches for a block of cheese.

My cat loves cheese! But is it safe for them to eat?

Can cats eat cheese? The most common stereotype about healthy cats is that they love a good bowl of milk. Cheese seems like a natural addition to this, and may appear to be a good solution to getting your cat to take their medicine. However, cat parents should be aware that the stereotype of cats drinking milk is actually a misconception. Adult cats should not drink cow's milk or eat other dairy products, such as cream cheese or cottage cheese.

Why Adult Cats Shouldn't Eat Dairy

Cats are obligate carnivores and can only get the nutrients they need from meat. Kittens drink mother's milk until they are approximately four weeks old and begin to eat solid cat food. At this time, they begin to lose the lactase enzyme in their digestive systems, which naturally break down lactose in dairy products. This leads to cats not only having difficulty digesting dairy but also being lactose intolerant--They may experience digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Cats with dairy allergies will suffer from not only digestive problems after consuming dairy but also weakened immune systems.

Can Cats Have Cheese as an Occasional Treat?

Some cats do not have any digestive issues when eating the occasional bit of cheese. In these cases, a small piece of cheese can be an easy way to hide medicine if a regular cat treat isn't working. If this is the case, pay attention to the types of cheeses you are using; choose hard cheeses like cheddar or swiss contain less lactose than soft cheeses like mozzarella. Never give your cat cheese made from raw milk (such as brie) as it may contain salmonella, or cheeses like blue cheese or Stilton, as they contain Penicillium, a mold that is toxic to pets.

However, you should still avoid giving your furry friends too much cheese, even if it doesn't affect your cat's digestive system. The high fat and sodium content in cheese is too much for your cat's diet on a regular basis and can lead to additional health issues such as obesity. Non-dairy cheeses run many of the same risks in terms of high fat and salt content, and can contain toxic-to-pet ingredients. Check the nutrition label before giving any non-dairy cheese to your cat.

Human Foods That Are Cat-Safe

Many human foods are safe for cats; the next time you want to give your car a treat or need to hide their medicine, try one of the following:

  • Cooked chicken, turkey, or beef
  • Cooked oats
  • Cooked or canned fish
  • Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs
  • Cucumber
  • Cantaloupe
  • Steamed broccoli

What kinds of human foods does you cat enjoy? on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

READ MORE: 13 Purifying Houseplants That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

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Can Cats Safely Eat Cheese?