Cats are delightful little creatures that love to try new things, including cream cheese! While it’s an excellent idea for us to foster their exploratory natures, what fancies them may not necessarily be good for them in large quantities.
Cats in-fact can have cream cheese, but only in moderation. While it’s perfectly okay to allow your cat to partake in a small dice-sized share of cream cheese, it’s important to remember that this should not be made a regular part of your feline’s diet.
While cream cheese isn’t necessarily bad per se, your cat will most likely have an intolerance to the lactose that’s in it. This article will guide you through everything you need to know to help your cat stay healthy while enjoying the treats it craves!
Are Cats Lactose Intolerant?
Yes, cats are lactose intolerant. Pets WebMD states, “As we grow up, it’s normal for people and cats to begin producing less lactase. Less lactase means less ability to digest lactose. The result may eventually be lactose intolerance.”
This is mainly because of the weaning process. When the kitten comes off of the mother’s milk, it results in a lack of the enzyme lactase in their system, which allows them to digest the lactose that is in dairy products. Therefore it’s important if you were to give your cat cream cheese, it should only be a little bit.
Are Cats Allergic to Cream Cheese?
Just as allergies can occur with any type of food, it is possible for a cat to be allergic to cream cheese. However, this does not mean that they are prone to have an allergy to cream cheese because they are a feline.
If this happens to your cat, be sure to take it to a vet where they can teach you how to perform a food trial. VCA Hospitals define a food trial as, “A test that involves feeding a special diet, one which does not contain any proteins that your cat has been previously exposed to, for 6-8 weeks.”
There are several symptoms that you’ll need to be on the lookout for if do you decide to allow your cat to take part in a little cream cheese treat, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of fur
itching/over-grooming in any of the
- Frequent upper respiratory infection
A frequent infection or illness that doesn’t get better with time could indicate a dairy allergy. Therefore, any food with dairy in it, including wet or canned food should be donated and no longer used.
While a cream cheese allergy could be an issue, the real threat happens to be dairy intolerance or an allergy to dairy products. While the symptoms are quite similar in both of these cases, the key differences are:
- Dairy intolerance is a lack of the enzyme lactase in the system.
- A dairy allergy involves the immune system reacting to the consumed dairy.
Can Cats Eat Dairy?
Cats can eat dairy but only as a treat, in moderation.
If your cat shows signs of having an intolerance to lactose, there are several foods that you need to be careful of feeding your little furry friend. These foods include:
- Cheeses, both hard and soft. Yes, this includes cream cheese!
- Ice Cream
- Sour Cream
If you are unsure whether or not your feline pet can handle lactose, a great idea would be to give your cat just a tablespoon full of milk, as this has the highest dairy content. If she reacts to it in any way, then you know that dairy is not okay for her to consume, and should be avoided.
What Can Cats Eat?
Now that we’ve weighed the risks associated with your cat indulging in cream cheese and other types of dairy, let’s talk about what else your cat can eat.
A good rule of thumb for any cat, in any stage of life, is to make sure the first few ingredients on the package of dry or wet food are quality ingredients. For example:
- Meat Products
- Poultry Broth
- Chicken liver
These are the ingredients of low-quality cat food. It’s very vague as far as stating what is in these types of foods. Meat should be among the first ingredients listed followed by the fillers/starches existing lower on the list. This is an indication that you have high-quality cat food that will meet cats’ dietary needs.
It is ideal to include a mix of dry food and canned food in your pet’s diet. Dry food typically has less available nutrition, while canned food has a denser type of nutrition. You can choose how you want to do this.
Some people find that adding ¼ of a can of wet food to a separate bowl works while keeping a full bowl of dry food available at all times. Although, if your cat is overweight this is not ideal, and your veterinarian should be consulted on the best way to move forward regarding dietary care.
Human Food for Cats
Overall, the good news is that cats can partake in the delicious human food they so desperately crave! Here is a list from Pet Central that include 15 human foods that are safe for cats:
- Cooked Salmon (No cooking oils or spices.)
- Fish Oil
- Cheese (As long as it’s a hard cheese that is baked into a treat)
Of course, you should do your research before feeding these foods to your cat as some of them can affect any underlying medical issues they may have.
There are various ways that these foods can benefit your cat’s health. While it is not recommended to make your own cat food at home due to the delicacy of a feline’s nutritional needs; it’s recommended to feed them some of the above-mentioned foods for these significant health benefits:
- Fish oils– Promotes healthy skin and coat, while combating any dry skin issues
- Cantaloupe– A great source of beta-carotene for skin and eye health
- Chicken– Wonderful way to meet the protein needs of your companion
- Bananas– Potassium and Fiber, although should only be given in moderation
- Oatmeal– B vitamins help to provide energy
- Pumpkin– Supports gut-health, and can be used to treat constipation or diarrhea
- Turkey– Another good source of lean protein
What is Best for Your Cat?
You’ve been provided with a lot of information on what is and is not okay for your cat to eat. Going back to the original question on whether or not cats can eat cream cheese or not; the answer is evident. It can.
It is vitally important if you do this, you monitor your cat for the following symptoms:
- Abnormal stools in their litter box
- Accidents they don’t typically have
- Inflamed skin
- Itchy skin.
In addition to making sure that you are only allowing them to have just a small piece about the size of a dice. If you’re afraid to give them too much cream cheese at first, a good idea may be to spread about a teaspoon of cream cheese onto a piece of turkey and have her try that!
No matter what you choose for your little bundle of energy, always be sure to keep in mind that their health is in your hands. They cannot talk to us and tell us what makes them feel sick so it’s very important that we always pay attention to their behavior, change in habits, and any changes in health when introducing them to new foods.