Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Updated: 4/5/20242-4 minutes
young boy holding cat in kitchen

Cats seem to have an extra sense when it comes to cheese. Whether it is in the owner’s hand, on the dinner table or the kitchen countertop, they will waste no time trying to get their paws on the delicious cube of dairy. But should cats eat cheese?

Have you noticed your cat paying you more attention than usual whenever the cheese is out of the fridge? The unmistakable stare is your feline’s way of pleading for a seat at the table and a slice of that delicious block of dairy you have in your hand. But can cats have cheese as part of their usual diet? Or is cheese actually bad for cats? Keep reading to find out what to do if your furry friend keeps asking you for their fair share of cheesy treats. 

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Given our pop culture’s penchant for images of cats lapping up milk, there is no wonder one of the most enduring feline myths is a cat’s love of dairy. But it turns out milk is not a good idea for cats as most of them are actually lactose intolerant. 

So, can cats have cheese? Not if your cat is lactose intolerant or suffers from milk allergy. And even if this is not the case for your pet, cheese should be avoided and only fed to them in moderation.   

Why is Cheese Bad for Cats?

Most cats cannot digest dairy products which means eating milk, cream or cheese could quickly lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting.

The explanation has to do with how the feline digestive system evolved. Cats are known as obligate carnivores, meaning they need a diet based mostly on meat to thrive and remain healthy. 

This is why when dairy shows up on the menu, chances are their gastrointestinal system will start acting up. A cat’s body cannot produce enough enzymes to digest milk properly, making cheese a problematic dinner choice for felines. 

Can Kittens Eat Cheese?

Since a kitten’s meals consist of milk you may be wondering whether cheese is bad for kittens too. While it is true that a cat’s ability to produce the lactase enzyme is much better during kittenhood, allowing them to enjoy the milky dinners, by the time they are able to eat solids such as cheese, that ability is already gone. If you’re not sure what to feed a kitten, find out with our handy guide. 

Why Do Cats Like Cheese?

If cats are not particularly good at digesting cheese, why would they develop such fondness for this particular food? 

Of course, we cannot expect an answer directly from our furry friend, but experts believe that it is the fat and protein content in cheese that makes them interested in adding it to the menu. Therefore, it is the protein and fat your cat is actually craving, not the cheese itself. 

Can Cats Have Non-Dairy Cheese?

If the dairy content in cheese is the problem, what about the non-dairy versions? It turns out this might not be such a good idea either. Another reason cheese is not the best treat for cats has to do with ingredients. Whether it is dairy or non-dairy, cheese comes packed with salt, fat and even spices or additional ingredients such as onion or garlic which can be toxic for felines. Make sure you read the food label before offering that much-craved cube of cheese to your cat. And if your feline seems bent on getting their paws on any slice of cheese in sight, discuss with your vet to find safer alternatives. 

Can Cats Eat Cheese as a Treat?

There are owners who let their cats have an occasional cheesy treat and when it comes to giving your cat a pill, a lump of cheese comes in handy to help medication go down easier for the pet. If you have not noticed any reactions and your vet has given you permission, you can use cheese as a treat every once in a while. Make sure you keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort. Do not forget that there are plenty of meaty treats cats will enjoy just as much if not even more, so cheese can easily be replaced with feline-friendly alternatives that will not cause intestinal issues. For regular treating you can select from our cat treats collections which can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. 

Can Cats Eat Cheddar Cheese?

Cats can technically eat cheddar cheese in small amounts, but it’s not recommended as part of their diet due to their potential lactose intolerance. It is better to choose treats that are specifically formulated for cats.

Can Cats Eat Mozzarella Cheese?

Yes, cats can eat mozzarella cheese in small amounts, although it’s not the best treat for your feline friend. If you want to reward your cat with a tasty treat, it is better to offer some cooked chicken or fish.

Can Cats Eat Parmesan Cheese?

Cats can consume parmesan cheese, but only in small amounts as an infrequent treat. It is high in fat and salt, which can lead to digestive issues and other health problems. Instead of parmesan cheese, you could consider giving your cat a small amount of chicken or fish as a treat. 

Can Cats Eat Cottage Cheese?

Yes, cats can eat cottage cheese in moderation as it is low in lactose and rich in protein. It is better, however, to choose low-fat varieties of cottage cheese to avoid digestive issues.

Can Cats Eat Feta Cheese?

Cats can eat feta cheese, but it should only be offered as an occasional treat due to its high levels of fat and salt, which can cause digestive problems and other health issues. It is better to opt for more cat-safe treats when looking to pamper your feline friend – fish or cooked chicken are always good substitutes!

Can Cats Eat Goat Cheese?

As goat cheese is also high in fat, it is not recommended as a regular treat. It can, however, be offered occasionally in moderation. Larger amounts or more frequent feeding may cause digestive issues.

The answer to whether cats can have cheese is not a straightforward yes or no. Cheese is not in the risky category of harmful foods for cats, but it’s not the healthiest option either, no matter how happy will make the feline in your life. As always, check with your vet before using cheese as a treat for your cat. 

For more expert tips on cat feeding, explore our other what can cats eat articles.

Related articles

person in a green hoodie holding a coffee cup, sitting on the kitchen counter with a grey, striped cat
Juicy and delicious, mangos are often a firm favorite with many people, but are they safe to offer to our cats? Read this article to find out if cats can eat mango.
Person petting a calico cat on the head
person in blue pants petting calico cat
Pet Food Finder App on smart phone with ingredients surrounding it

Find Your Pet’s Perfect Food

Get a personalized recommendation from Purina nutritionists with our Pet Food Finder.