Can Cats Have Cheese?

If your kitty stares at you while you’re tucking into a cheese and pickle sarnie, you may have wondered if cats can have cheese. After all, they seem to like many of the foods we eat.

In this post you’ll discover whether it’s safe or not to give your feline friend the occasional cheesy treat. Plus, why many cats are lactose intolerant, and how this can affect your kitty’s digestive system.

Lastly, we’ll look at a few cheesy treats you can safely give your cat in moderation. These are specifically designed for cats and contain no harmful ingredients.

Why cats like cheese

It may seem odd that a cat who’s designed to eat a purely meat based diet would be interested in nibbling a piece of cheddar or gorgonzola. However, it could be the high calorie content your kitty enjoys. In a way it’s very similar to the energy boost you’d get from eating a bar of chocolate.

In the wild, cats need energy for chasing prey, and while there are no supermarkets for cats to stop at, they get all the calories they need from meat. It’s possible Your feline friend may be able to smell the protein and fat in cheese which is why she craves it.

The biggest danger of high calorie foods for humans and cats is obesity. A cat who spends much of her time indoors can easily gain weight by eating the wrong foods. Cheese is packed with calories and even small amounts can add weight.

Your cat’s digestive system

An adult cat’s digestive system isn’t designed for dairy foods. In fact they can be harmful to your kitty. Kittens are lactose tolerant at birth right up until they finish weaning. This is so they can suckle their mother’s milk.

Lactase enzymes allow you to enjoy your cheese feast or daily yoghurt without feeling ill. However, although your cat has the same enzymes, they are present in far smaller amounts.

This is why it’s not advised to give your cat cows milk. There are alternatives though which are lactose free. In fact, some such as cat sip also contain taurine, an essential nutrient for cats. In addition, some types of almond milk are ok in moderation.

Some cats have a certain tolerance to lactose while others don’t. If your cat is lactose intolerant she may react badly to even a tiny piece of cheese. Diarrhea, inflammation, and constipation are a few unpleasant side effects your kitty may experience.

Types of cheese your cat can safely eat

can cats eat cheese and what is safe

There are a huge variety of cheeses on offer today and some contain lower amounts of lactose than others. If you want to share a cheesy treat with your kitty you could try parmesan, Swiss, feta, or goats cheese.

All contain some lactose but in lower amounts. I’m not suggesting you present your kitty with a plate of these cheeses. However, if you’re making a lasagne or some other cheese dish for dinner, you could try offering your cat a few morsels as a treat.

Never give your cat cheese with added ingredients such as garlic or onion as these can be poisonous. There are many other foods that are bad for cats, so always check first.

Using cheese as a bribe or occasional treat

Cheese should only be given sparingly to your cat. As mentioned previously, obesity is something to be avoided, and cheese can soon pile on the pounds. You could however use the occasional piece of cheese as a bribe. For example when getting your cat to take medication.

Hiding the pill inside a small piece of cheese can help disguise a pill. It’s not guaranteed to work, but worth a try! You could also try molding a piece of tuna and cheese together to form a pocket. Most cats love tuna, and with the addition of cheese, there’s less chance your cat will reject the pill.

One thing to note is some medications may not mix to well with cheese, so always ask your vet first. Nothing bad will happen, but there are examples of antibiotics that bind to calcium, reducing their ability to absorb.

A quick phone call to your vet’s surgery can soon put your mind at rest if you have any questions regarding your cat’s medication.

How much cheese is safe for your cat to eat?

how much cheese is safe for your cat to eat

The best idea is to try your cat with a tiny piece first. Then, wait a while to see if her digestive system can handle it. Only ever give your kitty low lactose cheese as mentioned here, and don’t let her eat more than a small piece at any one time.

We all know how insistent our feline friends can be when they want something, but be firm. Pawing at your hand or arm are common tactics designed to make you give in! Ignoring can be hard, but it’s the only way.

Every cat is different when it comes to lactose intolerance, just as people are. Even if your cat can eat cheese with no adverse effects, you must only give it as an occasional treat.

In general, mature cheeses contain less lactose, so aged cheese is a safer bet for your kitty. If your feline friend is a true addict, make sure you keep any cheese safely stored out of her reach! Counter surfing is a pastime many cats enjoy! Leaving uncovered food on your kitchen counter is an invitation to your cat. The following are cheesy treats safe for your cat to eat.

Purina Fancy Feast Delights with Cheddar Grilled Varieties Cat Food 24-3 oz. Cans [8 each: Chicken, Turkey, & Whitefish]

purina fancy feast delights

Purina are a trusted brand, and this product contains real pieces of aged cheddar cheese. A thick covering of gravy helps tempt your kitty, and a variety of grilled meats and fish keep her interested.

Purina fancy feast contains 24 cans with flip top lids. This makes serving less messy and cleaning up quick and easy. You can serve with or without the addition of dried food. I always place a bowl of kibbles next to wet food giving my cat a choice. He usually eats a bit from each and frequently returns later to finish off any leftovers! Average rating 4.6 out of 5

Purina Friskies Party Mix – Morning Munch Crunch – Egg, Bacon, Cheese Flavors 2.1 Ounces (Pack of 3)

purina friskies party mix morning munch

Purina friskies party mix contains a mix of shapes with egg, bacon, and cheese flavourings. Each serving contains just 1.5 calories, so good news for your cat’s waistline! As the pack is resealable it’s easy to keep fresh and store. Average rating 4.4 out of 5

DREAMIES Cheese Cat Treats 60 g (Pack of 8)

dreamies cheese cat treats

Dreamies are crunchy treats with a soft filling. My cat loves these and I give him some as the occasional treat between mealtimes, or when I want him to come in at night! Added vitamins and minerals promote optimum health. You can get other flavours including salmon and chicken.

Alternative treats

Just as cheeseburgers or other high fat treats should only be eaten occasionally, the same applies to our pets. As a matter of fact giving your kitty just one ounce of cheese is the same as you eating two cheeseburgers!!

In addition, if your kitty is suffering from heart disease it’s best to avoid cheesy treats altogether. In fact your vet will probably have advised an appropriate diet anyway.

As cats are unable to taste sweet foods they won’t crave chocolate in the same way you do, but other high fat foods including cheese may still be attractive to your kitty.

Try offering small pieces of cooked carrot, pumpkin, banana or blueberries instead. Though your cat is a carnivore, she can still enjoy the odd veggie treat!

Unlike us, cats don’t need fruits or vegetables as part of their diet, but can still benefit from the added minerals and fiber they contain. Feeding your cat small amounts may help boost her immune system without piling on the pounds.

Before you start stocking up on extra vegetables for your feline house mate, there are certain fruits and veg that may be toxic for cats. Always do your research first, and NEVER try to feed your cat a vegetarian diet. Your cat MUST eat meat to survive!

So now you know cats can have cheese do you think you’ll be serving your feline friend a cheesy treat? If you’ve enjoyed this article please share. Also, if you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, please comment below:)

Wishing you a purrfect day:)


4 thoughts on “Can Cats Have Cheese?”

  1. Thank you, Kathy, for this fantastic post! As a cat owner, I can relate to this. Lucy loves cheese a lot and always wants some. But, Cheese and all dairy products, as well as milk, are not the optimal food for cats as their digestive system can’t break down lactose and the problems fat and sugar can cause to them too.

    As my vet mentioned to me last time, I visited, it is okay to feed Lucy a small amount of Cheese that is the size for a dice. However, I am trying to avoid feeding Lucy cheese and instead, I buy other delicious treats for cats! It is not worth risking my cat’s health for Cheese! Thank you again for this amazing post!

    • Thank you Mohammad:) You are right that neither cheese or milk is the best food for cats. Maybe you could try giving Lucy one of the lower lactose cheeses as mentioned in my post, or cheesy cat treats like Dreamies. Just like the ad on tv, my cat comes running when I shake them!!

  2. I’m so glad that I clicked this article! I never knew cats were lactose tolerant until I read this. I have cat and there have been a few times where I’ve fed her cheese and she ended up throwing up. I won’t ever feed her cheese again, but I’ll definitely buy those treats you mentioned. Thank you!

    • Thank you Aminah, many cats are lactose intolerant to some degree, and your kitty sounds like she certainly can’t take lactose. There are a few low lactose cheeses which I mention in my post, or you could try one of the cheesy cat treats such as Dreamies. My cat loves them!


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