Staying on top of what your cat can and cannot eat can feel like a never ending task, especially if you have a food-motivated cat with a propensity for eating human food.
But in moderation, some human food can be safe to give to cats as treats, and you may wonder if cheese falls under this category.
To briefly summarize: cats can eat small amounts of cheese, but as most cats are lactose intolerant, doing so may make them slightly sick.
If you have questions about whether or not it’s safe for your cat to eat cheese or any other type of dairy, this article will address your safety concerns and provide more context on what types of cheese are okay for your cats to eat and in what frequency eating them is safe.
What Happens if Cats Eat Cheese?
Cats are typically fine if they eat a small amount of cheese, but eating even a small amount of cheese can cause gastrointestinal upset in some cats.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that all of the nutrients they require to stay healthy come from meat. Therefore, cats require a meat-centric diet, as their bodies are designed to break down the meat and convert it into valuable nutrients.
In addition to meat, cats can process some vegetables, which is why you regularly see these as secondary ingredients in pre-made cat foods, but in the wild, they do not forage for veggies and do not need them in order to survive.
But most cats are lactose intolerant, and their symptoms typically mimic those of humans with lactose intolerance after they ingest dairy: vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, or gas.
If your cat eats cheese, they will likely be fine after a day or two but may experience severe digestive upset while working it out.
If you notice your cat vomiting or having diarrhea at an alarming rate, you may want to consult your veterinarian.
Be aware that some cats can process dairy better than others, and your cat may be okay with the occasional small amount of cheese as a treat.
While it isn’t recommended to feed your pet dairy, a small amount every now and then (treats should never make up more than 5% of your cat’s diet) will likely not hurt them.
The key to successfully introducing new types of food into your cat’s diet, even as a treat, is to introduce them one at a time and monitor their reaction to it.
If you introduce too many new foods simultaneously, you won’t be able to narrow down which food, specifically, they have trouble with.
It’s essential to know what foods your cat can tolerate in order to avoid health problems (like pooping on the floor) down the line.
Can Cheese Kill Cats?
Cheese is not fatal to cats; your cat will likely be fine if they consume even a relatively large amount of cheese.
However, some cheeses, such as blue cheese, contain penicillium, which is a type of mold that is toxic to cats.
Although the cheese itself is not fatal, you should be cautious with moldy cheeses, as the strong smell may attract your cat and can have serious adverse side effects.
There is a chance that because of the strong smell associated with some moldy cheeses, such as blue cheese, your cat will have less interest in eating it compared to other cheeses.
Regardless, if you offer your cat blue cheese, or the cheese is simply an ingredient in something else they’re interested in eating, your cat may ingest blue cheese without you knowing it.
If your cat ingests blue cheese, you should contact your veterinarian immediately, as penicillium is poisonous to cats and may have serious adverse side effects.
Can Cats Eat Cheese Sticks?
Cheese sticks are often used as a handy training tool or a special treat for our dogs, so you may be left wondering if the same rules apply to your cats.
Cheese sticks are typically made with mozzarella cheese and do not contain any harmful toxins such as penicillium; this makes cheese sticks non-toxic to cats.
However, you should still generally avoid feeding your cats cheese sticks, as the lactose in the cheese can cause digestive upset.
If you’ve given your cat a small amount of cheese in the past and they’ve handled it well, you can occasionally share your cheese stick with your cat as a treat.
However, keep in mind that cheese not only contains dairy but is also high in fat, which could have adverse side effects on your cat’s health if they’re given too many fatty foods.
Can Cats Eat Cheesecake?
Although cheese may be an occasional acceptable treat for your cat, you should always avoid feeding them cheesecake.
Although cheesecake is not fatal to cats, it contains ingredients in addition to dairy that may be harmful to your cat’s health.
Even in small quantities, you should avoid giving your cat sugar. Eating sugar can cause your cat to gain weight, have adverse effects on their dental health, and may even lead to diabetes.
In addition, if the cheesecake is made with chocolate or a sugar substitute such as xylitol, you run the risk of poisoning your cat, as these ingredients can be potentially fatal.
If your cat eats cheesecake, the best thing you can do is check the ingredients list. If the cheesecake contains artificial sweeteners that may be toxic to your cat, consult your veterinarian immediately.
If your cat eats only a small amount of a typical cheesecake, simply monitor their health. In all likelihood, your cat will be completely fine, although they may display some symptoms of minor gastrointestinal upset such as gas, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If these symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian.
Can Cats Eat Feta Cheese?
A lot of people are under the impression that feta cheese is one of the healthier options for cats to eat (in moderation) because of the lower levels of lactose compared to other common types of cheese.
However, while most cats are naturally lactose intolerant, and you may feel comfortable feeding feta to your cats, it’s actually an unhealthy cheese option for cats to consume due to its high sodium content.
Is Feta Cheese Toxic to Cats?
Feta cheese is not toxic to cats and will likely not pose a problem if your cat eats a small amount of it every now and then, but you should be careful to monitor your cat’s feta consumption.
Because feta cheese is cured in a salty brine while being made, it has a higher sodium content than many other types of cheese, which is what gives it its distinctive salty taste.
While this is delicious for people to eat, salt can be quite toxic for cats, and they lack the digestive enzymes to process salty foods.
Avoid feeding your cat feta cheese if possible, and look for signs of digestive upset if they eat a moderate to a large amount of this cheese.
Can Cats Eat American Cheese?
Despite American cheese being great for whipping up delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, it is best to avoid this cheese when it comes to feeding your cat.
American cheese is made with more chemicals and synthetic ingredients than most other kinds of cheeses, which are best to be avoided when it comes to your cat’s diet.
Similar to feta, American cheese has high levels of sodium that make it a difficult cheese for your cat to process.
With both of these reasons aside, American cheese has a high fat content, and excessive amounts of fat are unhealthy for cats to consume.
There is nothing toxic to cats in American cheese, but it should be fed in extreme moderation, if at all.
Can Cats Eat Blue Cheese?
Unlike most other types of cheeses, which pose no real threat to your cat if consumed in moderation, blue cheese is a strict no for cats to eat.
The mold in blue cheese is called penicillium, which can be seriously toxic to cats; you should avoid giving your cat blue cheese in any quantity.
Make sure to steer clear from giving your cats any food that has blue cheese in it, baked or raw, including blue cheese dressing.
Your cat may have less interest in blue cheese compared to some other types of cheeses because of the strong odor that is polarizing.
If you notice that your cat has eaten blue cheese, it’s best to contact your veterinarian. Even if you don’t believe they ate a large amount of cheese, your vet may choose to place them on an anti-fungal or take other medical interventions.
Can Cats Eat Cheddar Cheese?
Cheddar cheese is one of the more acceptable forms of cheese for your cat to eat. While it’s certainly not healthy for them due to its high fat and lactose content, it’s not particularly harmful to them in small doses either.
You can feed your cat very small amounts of cheddar cheese as a treat every now and then as long as you keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t have an adverse reaction to eating the cheese.
If your cat ate a large amount of cheddar cheese and you notice any signs of gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting or diarrhea, consult your veterinarian if the symptoms don’t cease after a day or two.
Can Cats Eat Cottage Cheese?
Cats can eat cottage cheese, and it won’t be fatal to them, but it is more likely to elicit an adverse physical reaction from your cat than some other kinds of cheeses because it has a higher lactose content.
While this may be acceptable if your cat can tolerate dairy in moderation, most cats are lactose intolerant, and cottage cheese may trigger digestive upset.
Monitor your cat for a few days after they’ve eaten cottage cheese to ensure that they don’t have persistent diarrhea or vomiting, and opt for other types of cheese if you’re looking for a cheese to use as an occasional treat.
Why Do Cats Love Cottage Cheese?
You may notice that your cat is particularly fond of cottage cheese and wants this cheese more than many other types of human foods.
In general, cheese is appealing to cats because of its high fat and protein content. Cottage cheese is a protein-rich cheese, and protein is essential to cats, who are obligate carnivores.
While it has lower levels of fat than some other types of cheeses, it is still higher in fat than most treats.
Does Cottage Cheese Help Cats With Diarrhea?
Some people eat cottage cheese as a way of managing diarrhea, as it falls into the “white diet:” bland foods, such as rice and bananas, that help calm an upset stomach.
However, cottage cheese is actually more likely to trigger diarrhea than resolve it in cats. Most cats cannot handle dairy and don’t have the appropriate enzymes and genetics to process it the way that humans do.
In addition to this, cottage cheese is low in fiber, which doesn’t help when cats already have loose stool.
Do not use cottage cheese as a way of managing your cat’s diarrhea. And if you notice that your cat has eaten cottage cheese, you’ll want to monitor their stool to ensure that they don’t continue to have diarrhea.
Can Cats Eat Mozzarella Cheese?
Mozzarella cheese is safe for cats and is an acceptable treat when fed to them in moderation.
Most types of string cheeses are made with mozzarella cheese, and this is often used as a training tool and treat for dogs, which is one of the reasons that people wonder if it’s safe for cats to eat.
Like most cheeses on this list, mozzarella will likely be fine if fed in small amounts on occasion, but it does have a high fat content which is unhealthy for your cat.
When feeding your cat cheese, something essential to keep in mind is that foods high in fat can contribute to diabetes in your cat, as they aren’t built to process fat from dairy.
In addition to this, mozzarella cheese has high lactose levels, which can elicit a lactose intolerant response from your cat.
If you’d like to use mozzarella as an occasional treat for your cat, start with a very small amount and see how they react over the next few days.
If they develop vomiting or diarrhea as a result of eating the cheese, discontinue offering it to them.
Is Mozzarella Poisonous to Cats?
Mozzarella is not poisonous to cats, and in all likelihood, the worst thing that will happen to your cat if they accidentally eat some mozzarella is an upset stomach.
However, because of mozzarella’s high fat and lactose content, you should be careful when feeding this cheese to your cat to avoid gastrointestinal upset.
If your cat has a strong reaction to eating mozzarella, they are very likely lactose intolerant, and you should discontinue feeding them cheese, even as an occasional treat.
Common symptoms for cats who have adverse reactions to eating mozzarella include vomiting, diarrhea, and gassiness. Contact your veterinarian if these symptoms don’t clear up after a few days.
Can Cats Eat Goat Cheese?
Cats can safely eat goat cheese as a very occasional snack, but it is worse for them than many other types of cheese.
Like feta cheese, goat cheese has a low lactose content, which leads people to believe that it is a healthier option for cats to eat.
However, like feta cheese, goat cheese is significantly saltier than many other types of cheese. The high sodium levels pose a problem to cats’ sensitive digestive systems, which are not built to process salty foods.
In addition to this, goat cheese has higher levels of saturated fat than other types of cheese, which is also difficult for cats to process.
Remember that cats are obligate carnivores, which means that their primary nutritional need is protein, and the only fat they should be consuming is from the animals they’re eating.
You don’t need to be concerned if your cat has eaten a small amount of goat cheese. They will likely be fine.
However, you should monitor them to make sure they don’t experience persistent gastrointestinal upset.
In general, avoid feeding them goat cheese whenever possible.
Can Cats Eat Muenster Cheese?
Muenster is actually one of the safer types of cheeses for your cats to eat because of its lower lactose content with a comparatively low sodium content compared to other low-lactose cheeses, such as feta or goat cheese.
If you’re looking for a cheese to offer your cat as an occasional treat, muenster is a pretty good option. That said, it’s important to monitor your cat for any signs of gastrointestinal distress whenever they try any new human food, as your cat may have a particularly adverse reaction.
Can Cats Eat Parmesan Cheese?
While parmesan is one of the most common types of cheeses that we eat, it’s one that’s better suited for human consumption than for our cats.
Parmesan is a tricky cheese that features both a high lactose content and a high sodium content.
The high lactose content makes it difficult for your cats to digest and is more likely to cause digestive upset than other types of cheeses.
In addition to this, parmesan cheese is made with a high level of sodium, which can be detrimental to your cat if eaten in a large enough quantity.
In all likelihood, your cat will be fine if they take a few bites of parmesan cheese, but in general, you should avoid giving it to your cat, and don’t be surprised if your cat develops an upset stomach after eating parmesan.
Can Cats Eat Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta cheese is an acceptable cheese for your cat to eat as an occasional treat and is less likely to give them an upset stomach than some other types of soft cheeses.
In addition to this, cats may be attracted to ricotta because of its soft and liquid texture. However, ricotta is a cheese that you’re less likely to have around the house, so it’s fine to stick with cheeses, such as mozzarella, as a more consistent treat.
Ricotta has a lower lactose and salt level than some other cheeses, which is what makes it more palatable for cats to eat, but you still shouldn’t be surprised if your cat has an upset stomach after eating ricotta.
If you offer your cat ricotta as a treat, make sure they don’t get sick by looking for vomiting, gas, bloating, or diarrhea.
If your cat accidentally eats ricotta, in all likelihood, the worse thing that will happen is they’ll have an upset stomach for a few days. However, if this doesn’t desist after roughly 48 hours, it would be best to contact your veterinarian.
Can Cats Eat String Cheese?
Most string cheese is made with mozzarella cheese, which is a perfectly safe treat for cats when given in moderation.
String cheese is a common training tool when working with dogs, and if you’re trying to train your cat, you can opt for string cheese as an occasional reward.
However, it’s best to avoid over-feeding any type of cheese to your cat, as they are high in fat and lactose compared to their normal diet.
To avoid diabetes, it’s best only to feed your cat string cheese on occasion rather than allowing it to become a regular part of their diet.
String cheese is perfectly acceptable for your cat to eat, so long as it is in small amounts and infrequent.
However, if your cat is particularly sensitive to dairy, they may have a strong adverse reaction to eating string cheese, which has a high lactose content.
Something to consider when feeding your cat string cheese is that while mozzarella is the traditional type of cheese that string cheese is made with, it’s not the only type, and your cat may not react well to all types of cheeses.
If you feed your cat a new type of cheese and they have a negative gastrointestinal reaction to it, avoid feeding them this type of cheese in the future, and consult your veterinarian if these symptoms don’t stop after a few days.
Can you provide the reference for the toxicity to cats of the penicillium found in blue cheese? I have only found a study for toxicity of isolated penicillium roqueforti toxin in rats and it required a relatively high intraperitoneal dose (10-100 mg/kg) to be lethal. However, blue cheeses shouldn’t have any toxin at all or at most, parts per million (in a gram there would be a thousandth of a mg). I keep seeing about this toxicity but no reference. Thank you.
Hola Guillermo, good question here. The issue with penicillium is that it is, indeed, toxic to cats (and dogs) and it has been the source of stubborn and serious infections. You are right, however, that it’s not easy to find direct research on this to have clearly details on the level of risk and how to limit exposure from a cheese ingestion standpoint. That being the case, we are aligned in the general posture of staying on the safe side in being mindful of deliberate exposure of cats to cheese that contain this type of mold.