Can Cats Eat Cheese? 8 Health Risks To Consider

Cats are safe to eat cheese. Unfortunately, felines lack the digestive enzymes required to properly digest dairy. Since cats are lactose intolerant, it’s best to limit their cheese consumption to the occasional bite-sized treat.

Let’s examine the feline to find out!

Cats and Cheese: Is It OK?

Is cheese edible by cats? Experts say it is safe to do so, but only in moderation. You should only ever give your cat a tiny piece of cheese, no bigger than a dice. You could save the cheese for when you need to hide a pill for your cat, for instance.

However, if your cat is lactose intolerant or has a milk allergy, even a tiny amount of cheese could cause serious digestive problems.

Can Cats Eat Cheese? It's Complicated | Daily Paws

Dairy Intolerance and Dairy Allergy in Cats

The widespread belief that cats enjoy nothing more than a glass of milk or cream is untrue.

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine stresses the importance of remembering that many cats are lactose intolerant and that feeding them dairy can cause inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting.

The slightest amount of cheese could trigger an adverse reaction in a cat with a dairy allergy. (Cats tend not to have many food allergies, but those to dairy, fish, and red meat tend to be the most common.)

Cats with dairy allergies are susceptible to the same digestive and immune system problems as lactose-intolerant cats after consuming cheese.

After consuming lactose products, common symptoms of a dairy allergy in cats include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Embarrassing itchy or red patches on the skin
  • Hair loss

Immediately schedule an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else out of the ordinary.

When Cheese Is a No-No

If your cat has a heart condition or needs to reduce their salt intake, you shouldn’t feed them cheese, says the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.

Cheese isn’t the only high-sodium food that should be avoided when feeding your cat a low-sodium diet; deli meat, fast food, potato chips, and bread are all on the same list.

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Focus on Calories

Orange kitten looks up at table that has a plat of cheese on it.

Treats and non-vet-approved foods shouldn’t account for more than 8 to 10% of your pet’s daily calorie allotment.

Popular human foods like cheese, for instance, may contain excessive amounts of calories. In fact, a 10-pound cat will devour a 1-ounce cube of cheddar cheese in the same amount of time that a human would consume two and a half cheeseburgers.

What is the best strategy for cat owners? Instead of eating more food than you need, give more love.

Types of Cheese: Good vs. The Bad

Some types of cheese might be preferable if you must give your cat a cheesy snack:

  • Cheddar:Cheddar, one of the most well-liked cheeses, is semi-hard and has a low lactose content. However, that doesn’t mean you should feed your cat a lot of cheddar, as it may upset its stomach.
  • Swiss:Swiss cheese is a human health favorite, as it is high in protein and low in sodium and fat, making it a great choice for sandwiches. It shares low lactose levels with cheddar and can cause tummy troubles for some.
  • Mozzarella:Many owners have discovered their cats feasting on pizza leftovers, but is all that melted cheese actually healthy for them? In my opinion, not at all. Raw or cooked, cats should avoid eating soft cheeses like mozzarella because of how high in lactose they are. Both cottage cheese and cream cheese share the same dangers and should be avoided.
  • Brie:Brie, a well-liked soft cheese, is produced from raw milk, which maySalmonella and Listeriapathogens that can cause death or severe illness. Blue cheese and Camembert are two more soft cheeses that should never be eaten raw.
  • A.K.A. “Blue Cheese”;Do you know what causes the color blue in cheese? Mold. It’s important to keep pets away from cheeses like Stilton because they’re cultured with a mold called Penicillium, which can be harmful to them. Because of this, you shouldn’t feed your cat any moldy cheeses.

When Is Cheese Bad For Cats?


Keep in mind that cats were not necessarily meant to eat cheese. Cheese has fat and protein, two essential nutrients for cats, but a diet consisting primarily of meat will provide all the nutrition your cat needs. There is no way they could everneed cheese.

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Almost always, the risks of giving your cat cheese will outweigh any potential benefits. Most cats have a lactose intolerance, and cheese made from cow’s milk contains lactose. A greater lactose intolerance affects some people than others.

Cats should only occasionally consume very small amounts of cheese. Cheese isn’t toxic or immediately sickening to cats, but giving them too much of it can have disastrous consequences.

Some of the ways in which cats shouldn’t eat cheese:

  • Intolerance to lactose.The degree to which your cat is lactose intolerant may not be known until you introduce dairy products to their diet. In the event that your vet gives you the green light to try feeding your cat some cheese, do so with extreme caution at first. You should stop giving them dairy if they start to feel sick. Cheese can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and other GI problems in cats that are lactose intolerant.
  • Having a high percentage of fat.Like in humans, cats can experience health problems if they consume excessive amounts of cheese due to the high fat content. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other diseases are all possible outcomes of a high-fat diet for cats.
  • Extremely salty.Too much salt in the diet can result in excessive thirst and irregular urination, and many varieties of cheese fall into this category. High blood pressure, kidney disease, and other health problems are just some of the consequences of a lifetime of eating too much salt.
  • Different stuff.Salt, garlic, spices, and other flavoring additives found in some cheeses can be harmful to your cat. Any cheese that has been altered in any way should be avoided.

When Is It Safe To Give Cats Cheese?

cat reaching for food, bald cat pulls paw to a plate of cheese, cat on the corner of the sofa, pet, canadian Sphynx

Cheese may never be a safe option for cats that are extremely lactose intolerant, cats with medical conditions that require restricted salt or fat intake, or cats that are very young. Before feeding your cat any cheese, check with your vet.

Small amounts of cheese, given very infrequently (no more than a few times a year), may be safe for healthy cats that are not particularly lactose intolerant.

If you want your cat to take a pill but you can’t get it down them on their own, you can try hiding it in some cheese. Cheese isn’t the best choice if your cat needs to take medication on a daily basis for an extended period of time.

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The same holds true for giving a treat to a starving cat. Your pet will benefit from another treat rather than you giving in to the adorable kitten eyes it’s giving you for a bite of your cheese stick.

It’s true that not all cheeses are created equal. Cats are generally less sensitive to low-salt, low-lactose cheeses. Many types of cheese are inferior to Swiss, cheddar, and Parmesan.

For those trying to limit their lactose intake, softer cheeses are not recommended. Cheese made from pasteurized goat’s milk may be safer for some cats. Cheese made from almond milk, hemp, or soy may be better for cats, but you’ll need to weigh the fat and protein content of these alternatives against the fat and protein content of regular cheese.

Again, before feeding your cat any of these cheeses, consult with your vet.

What Can I Give My Cat Instead Of Cheese?

young cat eating food from kitchen plate. focus on cat

There are many options if you want to feed your cat table scraps or need a concealable snack in which to administer medication. Always check with your vet before giving these to your cat, and make sure to feed them according to your cat’s individual nutritional needs. You should exercise caution if they follow a particularly restrictive diet.

Don’t forget that your cat will prefer these foods without any seasonings or additions. Your cat may be poisoned by eating too much salt, spices, sauces, or other seasonings.

With that in mind, here are a few foods that, when given in moderation, can serve as safer treats for cats than cheese:

  • Lean deli meats, poultry, pork, turkey, beef, liver, and lamb
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Squash and pumpkin
  • Vegetables like carrots or broccoli that have been cooked
  • Strawberry shortcake, watermelon, and bananas (no seeds)
  • Salmon or tuna that has been cooked

Say Cheese

Some cheese on occasion probably won’t hurt your cat, but you should still check with your vet to make sure. You should only give your cat small amounts of cheese on rare occasions. That should put a smile on their face.

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