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Can Cats Eat Cheese? 6 Things Cat Owners Need to Know

Can Cats Eat Cheese? 6 Things Cat Owners Need to Know

As you are preparing a wonderfully fragrant dinner of cheese and crackers, a piece of gouda falls on the floor, oh no! You might be getting into a fritz right about the time Princess Mittens gobbles it up. What now? Are cats allowed to eat cheese?

Don’t stress, as we are here to set the record straight. Below you will find a helpful guide on cats eating cheese (parmesan included), as well as what to do when it happens. You are also in for a treat (literally) as I will recommend better treats and snacks for your favorite little fur child.

So take a breath, relax and read on for some peace of mind. Who knows, you might even discover the Critter Destroyer’s new go-to munchies (at least for the next two days).

tabby cat with wine and can cats eat cheese

Can Cats Eat Cheese? 6 Things Cat Owners Should Know

1. Do Cats Like Cheese?

So this one is all dependent on your specific bundle of fur, but it would be safe to say that most cats are probably at least interested in cheese. As it can have a strong smell (with smell being one of the major senses for a cat), your kitty might just want to sample it to see what the fuss is about.

So when they take that first gobble, lick, or nibble, they are testing it to see what it is and if it is palatable. You might be lucky (or unlucky) enough to be sitting with a cheese fanatic, it all is up to their specific likes and dislikes.

2. What Do Cats Like about Cheese?

As you may have noticed by now, your cat is probably quite interested in cheese, but the real question is: why? What is it about cheese that attracts them, since it is such a basic “food” and doesn’t look like much?

 The secret is in the pudding (or in this case, the protein). Cheese is on the list of foods that have a high protein content. This alone can already be enticing to them, but adding in the fact that cheese is quite salty and fatty too, and you have a (horrible) masterpiece.

It is unfortunately not healthy at all for kitties and there are quite a few alternative snacks that are also protein-rich but less fatty or salty.  However, a small bite or nibble of cheese shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. Many paw-rents may often resort to delicious snacks like cheese or cold meats to hide medication they want to administer.

silver tabby with cheese

After doing this even just once, you might notice them coming back time and again for more. Perhaps they just want a gobble of cheese, as it is something new, a break from the norm.

You might often have heard or experienced that you need to swap out their food every few weeks or months, to avoid boredom or allergies popping up.

So if you are in the market for new food, perhaps have a look at getting some high-calorie cat food. It is a great food for most cats, healthy and perfect for kitties that need help controlling their heftiness. Plus it has that high-protein appeal that kitty might be after.

3. Can Cats Have Cheese?

So when it comes to cheese, it is a good source of dairy in our diets as humans, but what about the clawed kids? You have to look at their regular diets and think about it as a human: as you get older, your body “forgets” how to digest certain foods, or struggles to do so, thus eating it again will probably cause stomach upsets, etc.

The same thing goes for a cat. If they only eat one thing for a long period of time, they get used to it. Giving them something they are not used to, will most likely trigger a sudden onset of “let’s go barf on mommy’s new bedding”. We all know how tough it can be to move a cat over to a new food. You have to prepare them for it, as it can take an extended period of time.

white cat looking at plate of cheese

Under normal circumstances, they haven’t grown up eating cheese, thus their stomachs and digestive tracts will not be used to it. It can be a shock to their system and will most likely get expelled violently (probably all over the curtains). If you give them a small pinch or piece, it will most likely be ok.

This holds true for the harder/firmer cheeses (like cheddar, gouda, parmesan), but the softer cheeses are where trouble can lie. Especially moldy cheese like Blue cheese can be a danger, as the mold can cause some digestive issues, especially in a kitty with existing health problems.

Processed cheese is also a no-go, as there are many additives and other ingredients that can be harmful to your cat’s health. You want to try and keep things simple, with as few ingredients or complications as possible.

Tip: If you have a kitty struggling with heft, perhaps try to also lay off the cheese (or any snacks for that matter). As mentioned, cheese has a high fat content, making it a nightmare when trying to curb obesity.

4. Is Dairy Good For Cats?

There is the age-old myth that cats love nothing better than a bowl of milk. While this might be true in very few cases, for the most part, adult cats don’t consume dairy.

ginger cat looking at dairy products

Dairy is the umbrella term for a lot of foods we use and consume daily. It includes milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter, custard, ice cream, and all their variants. You might have discovered the mice hunter interested in one or more of these foods. They may even attempt to steal something while you aren’t looking (it shouldn’t exist if it wasn’t meant for me, mommy)!

The problem that arises is that cats may have a dairy allergy (lactose intolerance) just like us humans (in fact, most cats have a form of lactose intolerance). You will probably only pick this up after they’ve already had dairy the first time and they get horribly sick from it.

Some of the symptoms of a dairy allergy can include the following (after consuming dairy):

  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin or red and irritated patches
  • Hair loss
  • In severe cases, intestinal irritation and potential harm

Most of these are quite obvious, so you should know straight away if something is amiss. Dairy, especially cheese, is also a definite no-no if your kitty has a heart condition or is on a special diet. Low-sodium diets are quite common in cats, and cheese is a big one to avoid in this case.

ginger cat with cheese and grape board in front of it

If you notice they have a specific taste for dairy, perhaps try some dairy-flavored snacks. It might just smooth over their curiosity with cheese and other dairy products and leave you guilt-free in the process.

5. Can Kittens Eat Cheese and Dairy?

Now when it comes to kittens, things are a little bit different. Kittens are used to drinking their mother’s milk, thus they have dairy on a daily basis. It stands to reason that their digestive systems are used to dairy, or at the very least milk. So they should be fine with other dairy products, right?

Unfortunately, this is incorrect. While it is true that they are “more used” to having dairy in their system, they are still kittens. Kittens are in a delicate state of their lives, and a lot of common things can be dangerous to them. Their bodies and immune systems are still growing, changing, and adapting.

As they get a little bit older and move out of the kitten phase, you may be able to introduce some milk or dairy to see how they react. It can go either way, but this is probably the best time to bring something into their diets. Kittens are generally a little less fussy with food and you can still be a bit more flexible with what you give them.

grey cat eating woman's fingers

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Tip: It is best to set a standard they can get used to early on. If you do need to change something, make small adjustments here and there and things will go a lot smoother. Getting your cat into a specific schedule or rhythm is important for their health and wellbeing.

6. Cat Cheese: Is There Something Similar?

So besides the regular snacks and treats, perhaps you can look into giving your fuss puss some alternative nibbles to satiate their curiosity. These options include:

  • Fruits and vegetables are always on the table (just have a chat with your vet before giving them just any fruit).
  • Small amounts of cooked fish can be a delicious treat. They will go crazy for the smell, so have your camera ready for that Oscar-winning performance!
  • Some cooked egg is also an option. Especially with pregnant queens, as it is a high source of protein for them and easy to digest.
  • Strangely enough, nuts are also considered an acceptable snack for cats. They might even enjoy the flavor, but just be sure to give it in moderation.
  • If they are insistent on the cheese, perhaps look into some cheeses that are lower in lactose. These include swiss, cheddar, and parmesan. Of course, they won’t completely eliminate any issues your furball might have from consuming lactose, but they should be significantly less.

If they are struggling to eat out of their bowls, have a look at these cute cat dishes, perfect for serving a variety of snacks and foods.

Cat eating piece of meat from the kitchen table

Is Cheese Bad For Cats: The Final Verdict

To boil things down, and pasteurize it for good measure, cheese is OK for cats, but under careful consideration and supervision. You won’t know how it will go, so be ready for the cleanup in case your cat starts painting the floor.

A small pinch of cheese, a little bit of fruit, a whole collection of your hopes and dreams, small things. Your kitty will love you no matter what. That hairball waiting on your pillow has nothing to do with what you are feeding her.

Thus, if you do want to spice things up by giving them something out of the norm, do it in small quantities. And if you are in doubt, check with your local vet for some assurance.

Cat and dog looking for meat in the refrigerator

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This can cats eat cheese post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through and make a purchase I will most likely receive a small commission. This won’t affect the price you pay. Just wanted to make sure you knew.

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