In the animal kingdom, it is the rats that love eating cheese while cats are well known for their inquisitive nature. They tend to observe their human companion, especially when it comes to food. Given a chance, you will notice your kitty savouring the leftover food on your plate, including cheese.
Cats are attracted to human food more than other animals. If it is a dairy product it becomes all the more difficult to keep your kitty away and they solicit their yearning by emitting a desperate meow. If the food you are consuming contains cheese, you would do well to ensure that it does not end up in your cat’s tummy.
Can Cats Eat Cheese?
The answer is – yes, they can, but in moderation and only specific varieties of cheese. It is not a strict ‘NO’ but it is not a total ‘YES’ either as far as your feline friend is concerned.
Because cats are inherently carnivorous, cheese is not a natural food for them and their diet comprises of meat and proteins. Cats do not need cheese in their diet, and being deficient in protein and rich in milk, fat and cream, it is poor dietary option.
Studies show that macronutrients like protein, fat and carbohydrates are the three main requisites of a feline diet. Cats choose their food based on dietary requirements and cheese is a storehouse of fat, although it does not score high in terms of carb content. Therefore, even if ingesting cheese makes them ill cats usually yearn to have cheese.
Why Your Cat Does Not Require Cheese
Contrary to the popular belief, most cats are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar that is made up of glucose and galactose and is found in almost all dairy products.
In order to digest cheese, cats require an enzyme called lactase. Cats that are lactose intolerant contain lactase but the quantity is not sufficient enough to break down large quantities of lactose. In kittens, lactase content is higher than it is in adult cats. Therefore while nursing, kittens usually digest and consume milk better than their adult counterparts. Once the cat starts eating solid food, the quantity of lactase generated in its body reduces and this hampers its ability to digest cheese.
Ingesting cheese completely depends upon the ability of your cat. It might relish small amount of cheese but this should be given occasionally. Milk and cream content of cheese can upset the gastrointestinal system of your kitty. A lactose intolerant cat that feeds on cheese might throw up or suffer from diarrhoea.
What about Flavoured Cheese?
Moreover, cheese is available in various forms, some of which are flavoured with onion and garlic, spices and other preservatives. Not all of these are good for your cat. You should be particularly careful before feeding onion and garlic flavoured cheese to your kitty because the organosulfides present usually cause health problems. These break down the red blood cells in the body, which causes oxidative damage of the haemoglobin. Over a period of time, it might lead to anaemia.
Under no circumstances, it is good for the cat to be suffering from anaemia as it could assume a life threatening form after a point. It affects cats more than canines. Therefore, if you are feeding cheese to your cat, better stop doing so if the cheese is garlic and onion flavoured.
Which Kinds Of Cheese Can Your Cat Ingest?
Cats tend to gain weight very easily. If your cat is fond of cheese, in all probability it will quickly pack on plenty of extra pounds. Cheese has high fat content, not to mention that it contains salt which causes hypertension and kidney problems in cats. Varieties like cottage cheese, cream cheese and mozzarella cheese contains good amount of lactose, while Swiss, cheddar and Parmesan cheese are low in fat and sodium.
Cheese obtained from cow’s milk is not recommended for your kitty. This is because products made out of cow’s milk usually lead to intestinal problems for your kitty. Likewise, cheese made from unpasteurized goat milk is also a ‘no-no’ as it could cause the Taxoplasma Gondi parasite to be passed to your cat.
Treating your cat with cheese occasionally should not be of much worry. Cheese is not toxic for your cat, but it is not a necessity either. Do not include cheese in your cat’s regular diet. You might find cheese helpful in making your stubborn cat swallow medications.
That being said, do not give flavoured cheese to your cat. Besides containing high level of sodium, cheese flavoured with onion and garlic might prove toxic for your cat. Try and avoid feeding your cat cheese and opt for healthier treats instead.