Cheese is among the most popular food and loved, not only in Italy but all over the world. Each country has its own varieties and preferences. Although there are marked differences between one cheese and another. They all have common characteristics that make it a highly appreciated food not only from the point of view of flavor but also for its nutritional properties.
The cats seem to be very curious when it comes to cheese and often you will have noticed that you are tried to eat a piece. But you have rightly wondered if cheese, so beneficial for us humans, is food that cats can eat. Let’s clarify this answer by also investigating the question of dairy products for cats.
Beneficial properties of cheese for cats
Cheese is a product of animal origin since it is made with milk that comes from animals, specifically mammals. There are various types of cheeses based on different types of milk such as cow’s milk, the one most used in Italian, goat, pecorino, and buffalo cheeses. Cheese is normally high in fat, although there are many low-calorie and low-fat types.
It also contains phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium which are essential for the body: calcium is involved in the formation and maintenance of the health of our bones, phosphorus is also linked to the health of bones but also of the teeth and is essential for the transformation of food into energy and finally magnesium is involved in various metabolic processes, incorrect muscular functioning and in vasodilation, keeping the cardio-circulatory system healthy.
Although the cat, being a carnivore, must consume mainly proteins, since it can consume only a few carbohydrates in order not to incur digestion problems and the risk of becoming obese, the fats and nutrients contained in the cheese are the second necessaries in its diet and so the cat could eat cheese but with a clarification to do.
Cheese cannot be considered an alternative to meat, which contains a protein essential for the cat’s vision, which is B12.
Lactose intolerance in cats
In fact, as for us humans, the lactose present in cheese is commonly very prone to trigger intolerances in adult individuals, since we have been designed, both men and cats, to feed on milk only in infancy.
As a child, we are in fact able to digest lactose thanks to lactase, an enzyme that we naturally produce. As this production grows, it drops a lot, if at all, because our organism no longer has to depend directly on the maternal one.
Due to the absence of lactase in many adults, the poor digestion of lactose causes diarrhea, the air in the intestine, or even vomiting: at this point, I recommend giving very modest quantities of cheese to your cat at the beginning to check that it is not one of the many lactose-intolerant cats.
Can the cat drink cow’s milk? The question is quite complex but let’s say that to be on the safe side it is preferable to buy cheeses based on other milk such as sheep or goat, even if some are slightly more expensive and even more difficult to find than those made from cow’s milk. In fact, it is generally cow’s milk, also for a reason linked to the abuse that is made of it, that has caused the most intolerances in humans and cats.
A small piece of cheese can be used to reward our cat during educational exercises, although using only food to make the cat understand that he has behaved well could make him gain weight. So it is better to prefer, or at least alternate, food with games and displays of affection. To avoid the risk of our cat gaining weight, we may prefer low-fat cheeses such as cottage cheese or ricotta.
Since the cheeses have very different characteristics from each other, as well as our domestic cats, it is preferable to ask the veterinarian the exact amount to give to your cat which varies not only according to the cheese itself but also according to the type of cat, how old are he and his possible pathologies.