Can cats eat cheese?
If cheese is one of your personal favorite treats, maybe your cat has tried to see if you'll share. In short, cheese is okay for cats, but only in moderation. While we wouldn't suggest intentionally sharing cheese with your cat, a bite every now and then isn't fatal. That said, while many cats can tolerate a small portion of cheese, smaller than a dice, your cat may be lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, which would make even the smallest amount of cheese problematic for their digestive system.
Dairy intolerance and allergies in cats
Despite all of the media that has led us to believe that cats love milk, most can't digest dairy. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine emphasizes that many cats are lactose intolerant and can experience gastrointestinal problems, including inflammation, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting, if they consume dairy. Cats with a dairy allergy may have a reaction from even the smallest bite of cheese. If your cat experiences any of the symptoms after consuming dairy, or cheese specifically, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to advise on treatment.
- Hair loss
- Frequent itching, red patches of skin
When to avoid cheese
If your cat has a heart condition or if your vet has advised that your cat reduce their sodium intake, it's best to skip trying cheese all together. Other high-sodium human foods to avoid include chips, bread, deli meat, and fast food.
Choose cheese wisely
Not all cheeses are suitable for cat consumption.
- Blue cheese: Blue cheese's distinct look, smell, and tang is all caused by mold. Blue cheese, including Stilton, is made with cultures of the mold Penicillium, which can be toxic to cats. Save the blue cheese for your salad dressing, do not share it with your cat.
- Brie: Perhaps your go-to for a charcuterie board, brie is a popular soft cheese. However, brie is made with raw milk, which may contain Salmonella and Listeria, and can lead to serious illness.
- Cheddar: Who doesn't love a slice of cheddar on their burger? Cheddar doesn't have much lactose, but that doesn't mean your cat can chew on it freely. It's still best to avoid sharing cheddar as it could lead to digestive upset.
- Cottage cheese: High in lactose, cottage cheese is something that all cats should avoid.
- Cream cheese: Now if your cat loves bread, they might try to nab a bite of your bagel too. That said, cream cheese is full of lactose and high in fats, so it's not ideal for your feline friend.
- Swiss: Swiss also has low amounts of lactose, but it's not ideal for cats.
- Mozzarella: Mozzarella—raw or cooked—is high in lactose and could be a problem for cats' sensitive stomachs.
The bottom line: cats shouldn't eat cheese.
If your cat gets a bite of cheese, it won't be lethal, but it could lead to tummy troubles that are avoidable.
[#BeginTLDR#]Cats can technically eat cheese, but they probably shouldn't.[#SplitTLDR#]Lactose in cheese can lead to gastrointestinal upset, especially if your cat is lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy.[#EndTLDR#]