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Do Cats Eat Cheese, Milk or Dairy Products? – Zippy Pet

Amir Ali
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Written by Amir Ali| October 11, 2021

can cats eat cheese milk or dairy?

Do cats eat cheese, milk or dairy products? 

If ‘YES’, then whether it’s milk, cheese, paneer or mozzarella? 

If ‘NO’, then why not? 

After all, you’ve grown up watching those adorable cats and kittens in cartoons drinking the bowl full of milk or taking those naughty bites from cheese slices. 

Also, seeing the madness of your cat for the delicious dairy products. Especially salty cheesy treats you must want to know: is it safe to feed your kitty with her favourite snack or not?

Next, you may think is it OK  to make cheese or dairy her regular diet or you can give it only occasionally? 

There can be a whole lot of questions that may arise in your mind when it comes to Cats and Milk products. 

So, I took a deep dive into the topic and did all the research. And, I came up with my findings.  

Now pay attention, because, in this article, I’ll reveal the effect of cheese, milk and dairy on the health of your furball.

Moreover, I’ll try to answer all of your questions in the simplest way I can. 

But if you have a problem in reading the article in full length, here’s the gist for you: 

Cheese (and dairy) is not toxic to cats but it’s very difficult to digest. So, cats can eat them only occasionally in very small quantities, not as a regular diet. Milk, Cheese and dairy contain ‘Lactose’ a sugar that requires an enzyme called lactase to digest it properly. We, humans, produce lactase in our bodies in the small intestine. But Unfortunately, cats are deficient in lactase so it becomes extremely difficult for them to digest cheese. Secondly, they contain a high amount of fats and calories which makes their diet unbalanced and increases the chances of obesity.

Now, to learn everything in detail and see the evidence behind the above statement you need to read the entire article. 

A Glance on Peculiar Nutritional Needs of Cats

image showing 6 essential nutrients needed by cats
An image showing 6 essential nutrients needed by cats

Cats are neither like humans nor like dogs. Although many new cat parents think that they can give anything to their cat which they eat themselves or feed their dogs with. It’s totally wrong. No doubt. 

Too bad for them. As they don’t understand that cats are natural carnivores. Their bodies are not made to function like humans and dogs. Cats have a small and delicate digestive tract. 

Also, they are deficient in many enzymes which are produced naturally in sufficient quantities in the bodies of humans. The same goes for dogs. 

So these obligate carnivores have peculiar needs that are different from both humans and dogs. Let’s see what exactly your cat needs in her diet. 

According to J.E. Bauer, who published his article 1 on Taylor and Francis Online Journal, the following are the nutritional needs of cats: 

1. Cats need a sufficient amount of dietary protein for maintenance. Specifically, animal protein from muscles and organs, not by-products such as milk. 

2.  Cats require ‘Taurine’ due to their inability to perform conjugation of bile salts glycine. However, they can’t meet their taurine themselves. Hence, they need to be fed with food that contains taurine. 

3. Cats must take Niacin or Nicotinic acid which is a form of vitamin B3. Lack of Niacin can cause loss of appetite, inflamed gums, weight loss, and hemorrhagic diarrhoea. Unfortunately, cats can’t make Niacin 2 so, they need to ingest this from food.

4. Cats are unable to convert beta-carotene to retinol 3 a derivative of Vitamin A. Vitamin A (Retinol) deficiency in cats 4 means dysfunctioning of skin, coat, muscles and nerves. 

Additionally, it is significantly important for pregnant cats and kittens. Growing kittens need it for growth, muscle and neurological development.

The American Association of Food Control Official recommends 5 833 IU of Vitamin A per kilogram of food. Thus, your ‘Purry-Cat’ needs vitamin A from external animal sources. But make sure to maintain a balance. Too much Vitamin A is toxic to cats. 

5. Next, your cat needs Omega 3 and Omega 6. These are required by your cat for healthy skin, coat, metabolism, cell growth, development of the nervous system and the proper functioning of the reproductive and immune system. Cats can’t synthesise Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in their body. So, they must include it in their food. 

6. You should not give cats a high-carbohydrate diet. They seem to appear in a state of constant gluconeogenesis(synthesis of glucose from non-carbohydrate substances). So, they are unable to tolerate a high-carbohydrate diet. A carbohydrate-rich diet can result in obesity, diabetes and many other health problems for cats.

Also Read: Can Cats See in the Dark?

What Happens if My Cat Drinks Milk?

Till now, you are aware of the important nutrients that you must feed your cat with. And, have understood the scientific reasons behind the need for each crucial nutrient. Right?

Now, the time to see what’s in milk doesn’t make it a good regular diet for cats. 

Nutritional Contents in Milk

major nutrional components of milk
An image showing major nutritional components of milk

As you can see(from the above image) milk has very little nutritional value for cats. Don’t say that milk contains a good amount of protein then why is it bad? 

The protein contains in the milk is the animal by-product and not the protein from organs and muscles that cats need.

Secondly, all milk products have lactose in them (a type of sugar) but it’s not good for cats at all! Why? 

PDSA on an organisation that is providing free animal care and treatment services in the U.K., clearly states on its website, “yes, cows’ milk is bad for cats6. This is because most cats are ‘Lactose-Intolerant’ they can digest it. 

Cats don’t have the enzyme called ‘Lactase’ which is responsible for digesting lactose in milk. As a consequence, a cat may get diarrhoea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal problems. 

Another reason to avoid giving milk to your cat is the presence of excessive fats. Yes, I know, your sweetie loves the taste of milk but a high fats diet is not good for her. According to PDSA, a saucer of milk equals an entire 12-inch pizza.

Now, imagine, eating a 12” pizza every day…

…Obviously, it doesn’t seem healthy at all! So, how can you give it to your cat? 

Health Problems That Can Cause by Giving Milk to Cats 

  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting 
  • Upset Stomach
  • Loss of Appetite and Weight
  • Abdominal Pain and Discomfort, and 
  • Behaviour Changes

What About Giving Lactose-Free-Milk to Cats?

Innocent pet parents get trapped by the marketing taglines of the filthy marketers. One of such examples is “Lactose-Free” or “Special Pet-Milk”. 

No! Don’t listen to them. Even though such kinds of milk have a very low content of lactose but they are still high in fats and are not complete meals. Feeding your princess with them on a regular basis may make her deficient in one or more nutrients which can affect her health in the future. 

Furthermore, pet milk still has a high content of fats so the risk of obesity is always associated with it.  

What Happens If My Cat Eat Cheese?

Till now you have understood why you can’t give milk to your cat. Now in this section, we’ll do a cheesy conversation.  

Major Nutritional Components of Cheese 

major nutritional components of cheese
an image showing major nutritional components of cheese

Listen, like milk, cheese is not a natural diet of cats. Yes, it has high protein but that doesn’t come from the organs, muscles and flesh so it can disturb the delicate digestive system of cats. 

The second reason why you should not give cheese to your cat is that it’s a milk product. This means that cheese also has lactose. So, cats find it really difficult to digest it as well. And, there is a high probability of getting them sick.

The third reason why you should avoid giving cheese to cats is its high-calorie content. As you can see from the infographic shown above 100% of cheese has 4-times more calories than milk. So, there are very very high chances of obesity. 

Fourthly, cheese is high in fats and lacks the necessary nutrients needed by cats for the effective functioning of their cells, organs and body systems. A steady diet of cheese for cats would result in malnutrition and obesity which can even kill them.

Health Issues That Can Cause by Feeding Cats With Cheese

  • Diarrhoea 
  • Vomiting
  • Obesity
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Malnutrition
  • Flatulence
  • Upset Stomach
  • Abdominal Pain and Discomfort

What About Giving Non-Dairy Cheese to Cats?

Non-dairy cheese may be low in lactose but they still are high in both fat and salts. None of them is good for your cat. 

Secondly, it contains protein extracted from vegetables (not animal protein). Cats being obligate carnivores can’t digest vegetable protein. 

Fools say that they want to make their cat vegan and impose their dietary preferences on innocent animals which are not made to digest vegetable protein. “A vegan diet is not appropriate for cats at all7 stated clearly by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(ASPCA). 

Remember, feeding a cat a veg-based diet is the same as feeding a cow meat-based diet; both practices are the height of insanity. Simply because their digestive systems are not made to digest them. 

Yes, you may find research 8 on the internet claiming that cats can not only digest plant protein but their ability to digest plant protein also increases with the increase in the content of vegetative protein. However, this research is contradictory since it was done by employees of Hills Pet Nutrition which manufactures and sells pet food. Rest you can understand. 

Should You Never Give Cheese to Your Demanding Cat?

Well, I would suggest you not take health risks and avoid giving milk, cheese and dairy to cats. 

But if your cat is too demanding she comes flying into the kitchen in no time by the slight smell of cheese then can give her a very small piece occasionally.

However, make sure not to do this too often otherwise even a small amount can affect her health negatively.

Different Types of Cheese and Their Effects on Cats’ Health

A lot of pet parents are not satisfied with the general information about cheese. They give really specific answers about a particular variety of cheese whether it’s edible for cats or not. If you are one of these cat parents then this section is for you.

Here I’ll try to answer the queries about the most famous varieties of cheese and their possible effect on the health of your cat. 

Can Cats Eat Cheddar Cheese? 

The answer is ‘No’ on a steady diet. Yes, as an occasional treat(a small piece). Cheddar cheese doesn’t contain much lactose, it’s not completely lactose-free. 

Secondly, it does contain fats. So it can cause stomach problems and obesity. However, you can use it to hide a pill to give to your cat.  

Can Cats Eat Swiss Cheese? 

Swiss cheese is also low in lactose but has fats though in low quantity. It can also cause digestive problems. So, you can give it to your cat occasionally like cheddar cheese.

Can Cats Eat Mozzarella, Cream and Soft Cheeses? 

A BIG NO!!! Soft cheeses such as Mozzarella, Brie and Cream Cheese although look easier to digest but don’t go on their look. They are actually more difficult to digest than hard cheese. This is because they have high lactose content. So, control your kitty and teach her some discipline that pizzas are not for her so she must stop sneaking into the box immediately. LOL. 

Can Cats Eat Paneer (Cottage Cheese)? 

Paneer is a popular Indian food although it’s popular in other countries too. Indians never miss the opportunity to add some paneer in different forms to their dishes. But, when it comes to cats, it’s a ‘No’. First of all, it contains lactose so it can cause vomiting and upset stomach.

Can Cats Eat Blue Cheese? 

Have you lost it? Do you know how blue cheese is made? 

It’s the mould called ‘Penicillium’ which converts milk into blue cheese. And, that’s the reason why it looks ‘blue’. 

Knowing that penicillium can be toxic to cats, the cat owner would want to feed his cat with toxic ingredients? 

Can Kittens Eat Cheese?

Yes, kitten’s meals consist of their cat momma’s milk so you think maybe you can feed them with cheese, isn’t it? 

Let’s face it! 

Look, cheese is bad for kittens too. You may counter-argue that kittens’ ability to digest lactose is better than cats, enabling them to enjoy milk. However, by the time they become able to digest solids their ability to digest lactose would have gone. In simple words, cheese is a No-No for kittens too. 

Do Cats Like Cheese?

Yes, cats like to eat cheese even though they are not made to digest it. Obviously, cats can’t speak so we can’t get the verbal answer. But if you are a cat parent then you can say that by your experience with her. The way she goes mad by the smell of cheese is strong proof that she likes it.

Experts say that cats like cheese because of the high content of fats and protein in it. So, basically, it’s the protein that they can’t resist, not the taste.

FAQs Based on Giving Milk and Cheese to Cats

Q1. Can Cats Eat Cheese Sticks?

No, cheese sticks are not healthy for cats. Apart from cheese itself, cheese sticks contain other ingredients which are not good for cats such as bread, garlic salt(garlic is toxic to cats)9, flour and oil which is high in fats. So, avoid giving cheese sticks to cats.

Q2. Can Cats Eat Cheese Balls or Popcorn?

No, cats can’t eat cheese popcorn.  Like cheese sticks, cheese popcorns also contain undesirable ingredients for cats such as cheddar cheese, butter, oil and corn. Therefore, you should never feed your kitty with them.

Q3. Can Cats Eat Cheese Pizza? 

Absolutely, no! Cheese pizza contains soft mozzarella cheese which has a high content of lactose. Since cats are deficient in enzyme lactase to digest lactose, they should never feed her with pizza. Otherwise, she may get seriously sick. And, can even die.

Q4. My cat stopped eating cat food and demands cheese every day how can I change it? 

You should immediately change her habit of eating cheese as a steady diet. Do this: 

Step 1: Try changing the food flavour, type and brands. Buy small packets of some good brands and experient whether she accepts anyone of them or not. 

Step 2: Try giving her cooked turkey, chicken or beef. Most probably she will accept them.

Step 3: Mix the cat food with the above-mentioned food and gradually increase the quantity of cat food till her bowl has 100% cat food. 

Step 4: If the problem persists, consult a vet. Maybe she is facing some health problem which you are unaware of.

Final Words 

Great, we have just finished another crucial article. I hope this would help you to give the necessary care to your fluffy which she deserves. I hope that by reading this article most of your queries have been resolved. 

I have tried my best to do as much research as I can on this topic. However, I’m human and can make mistakes. If you find anything objectionable or contradictory in the post don’t hesitate to write to me.

If you have some more questions about the cheese, milk and dairy let me know I’ll include those question-answers in the post too. I will really appreciate it if you share your valuable feedback with me. 

That’s all, thanks for reading. 

Enjoy the Meal With Your Fluffy


References

1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01652176.1998.10807428

2. https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/cat-food-for-thought/

3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/retinols

4. https://www.nasc.cc/pet-university/vitamin-deficiency-cats/

 5.https://www.aafco.org/Portals/0/SiteContent/Regulatory/Committees/Pet-Food/Reports/Pet_Food_Report_2013_Midyear-Proposed_Revisions_to_AAFCO_Nutrient_Profiles.pdf

6. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/what-we-do/blog/vet-qa-can-cats-drink-milk

7. https://www.aspca.org/news/why-cant-my-cat-be-vegan

8.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32213956/#:~:text=Both%20dogs%20and%20cats%20were,associated%20with%20increased%20protein%20digestibility.

9. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/garlic