Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Is it Safe to Give Cats Cheese to Eat?

black cat
Bracken feeds her cheese addiction

Is it safe to give cats cheese to eat?

The tale of the cat who is addicted to cheese.

Most cats are lactose intolerant so it is a fair question to ask if it is safe to feed them cheese - the answer is, in moderation. Come meet Bracken - the cat addicted to cheese. 

Bracken is a very mild-mannered cat. She always gives way to her sister at meal times and will even let Bailey have first lick at the food pouches. Except when it comes to cheese. This is a cat who can hear the fridge door open from anywhere in the house. It that is accompanied by the rustle of a plastic bag of cheese, she is there like a shot. She will claw her way up your leg to get at cheese, she will snatch it from under Bailey's nose and has even been caught licking the cheese topping on a vegetable bake.
So is this unusual for a cat? Most cats are lactose intolerant so should never be fed milk. What about cheese though? Is it safe to feed a cat cheese? Bracken certainly doesn't want to hear otherwise. But do give cheese only as a treat and in small amounts and NEVER give a stray cat milk!

Lactose Intolerance in Cats

 Almost everyone's first reaction on getting a cat is to feed it milk.  Yet the truth is that the majority of cats are allergic to the lactose in ordinary milk.  They may well lap it up but the resulting diarrhoea and upset stomachs are really not worth it. 
Lactose is a sugar substance in milk that needs certain chemical stimulus for ingestion, enzymes that kittens have so they tolerate their mother's milk, but something they lose as they get older.  Without the enzyme the lactose in milk just passing through the digestive system carrying excess water with it - result = diarrhoea.  Some cats may suffer vomiting too but this is less common.  In fact cats don't actually need milk once they are weaned. 

Cats and Cheese

black cat eating cheese
Bracken makes sure my hand stays steady for her cheese nibbles
Cheese is made from milk so you could be forgiven for thinking it would also cause problems for a lactose intolerant cat. However, in the fermenting and processing that goes on to make most cheese, the lactose is broken down. Just check on the label to make sure fermented milk or cream has been used in the process. If powdered milk has been used, no fermation has taken place and therefore there will have been no break down in the lactose.
Check your cat, like Bracken, can tolerate a little cheese by giving her only a tiny bit to begin with and always keep it in proportion.
 Cheese is a treat - don't include it as a major part of any cat's diet.
Don't give cats milk to drink but they should have plenty of fresh water available especially if fed on dried food - they can be prone to kidney disease if fed only dried food so mix it up a bit.
black cat with water bowl
Bracken would rather splash her water than drink it


  1. Beware two cats ganging up to get the fridge door open and helping themselves to cheese. And bacon. And ...

    1. LOL- no bacon here! My two are a twin act - Bracken can open cupboard doors and Bailey can open boxes especially those containing food so I've had to move their food from a low cupboard to a high one out of reach.

  2. I have never had a cat but we do get visiting cats from the neighbours from time to time! Good info to know re milk and cheese. I love that Bracken can hear a fridge door open wherever she is , she sounds such a sweet character!