Yogurt is an amazing type of food for humans and even for dogs, but it is not the same for cats. In case you didn’t know, most cats are lactose-intolerant. That doesn’t mean that they are intolerant to lactose present in their mother’s milk, but they are to the one that can be found in virtually any other species’ milk. We’ve written about the topic before in a post called ‘Should cats eat milk?’.
In this article, we will look at several aspects that you need to be aware of, as a cat parent, when it comes to feline lactose intolerance. We will also tackle topics such as whether there are moments when you can feed your cat yogurt, whether it’s truly bad for your feline friend, and what types of clinical symptoms you should expect if your cat ends up consuming this treat.
We’ve already noted that cats are lactose intolerant, but what many new cat owners might not know is that their diet should strictly be composed of meat and other types of protein products. Naturally, yogurt doesn’t fit this category as it is not meat. In actuality, yogurt is basically a mix of sugar, fats, and protein.
Greek yogurt is known for containing less whey when compared to other dairy products, so fatter options are a little better. The worst type of yogurt you can give to your cat is the one that contains fruit or to which sugar has been added.
In a nutshell, giving your cat yogurt is unsafe and it can cause a variety of health problems, most of which relate to the digestive system.
Can cats eat yogurt?
Well, yes. They shouldn’t, but you might find that many of them are tempted by it as it contains quite a bit of fat. In case you didn’t know, most cats won’t say no to heavy cream, butter, or even ice cream (if it’s high in fat). The reason why this happens is that they love the consistency of fat, so yogurt naturally appeals to them.
Cats are a little more finicky compared to dogs, in that they won’t necessarily eat anything you put in front of them. However, there are moments when they might seem to behave strangely, and when they might even try to eat or chew on cardboard. If they do the same with yogurt, that doesn’t mean that it is good for them.
While it is true that yogurt contains a lot of healthy bacteria (probiotics) and has different nutritional values than milk, not all felines are capable of digesting it. So, why risk your friend’s health? There are always better options for treats, many of which are made specifically for cats. In theory, if you were to make your own yogurt at home, it would be far better than the types you can get at a supermarket. The ones you see on the shelves at the store are packed with artificial colors, additives, and just substances that make them last for more time than they are supposed to. While we, humans, are a lot bigger and can put up with the abuse of such additives a lot better, your cat is a small being, so these nasty stabilizers can affect his or her health easier.
Is it ever okay for you to give your cat yogurt?
The short answer to this question would be no. As previously discussed, home-made yogurt or varieties that don’t contain any artificial sweeteners would be safer than the rest, and some sources even recommend it for adult and senior cats. However, it can be very dangerous for kittens, especially, and those that have had previous digestive issues, in particular.
Yogurt contains healthy bacteria, but also a good amount of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. All of these ingredients are beneficial for cats as they are for humans, and they can make a difference when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system.
Nevertheless, cats can get all of these nutrients from any type of well-balanced diet made specifically for them. There are many vitamins and supplements available on the market, and even probiotics, which you can use to regulate your cat’s digestion if your feline friend is having issues with it. Natural, unsweetened yogurt could be a treat, but you should never give it to a cat that has a troubled digestive system or to a kitten that’s just too young to digest it properly.
What could happen if your cat eats yogurt?
Since cats can’t process sugar the way we can, yogurt can cause a variety of health problems, most of which pertain to your feline companion’s digestion. If you allowed your kitty to eat yogurt, you might notice some pretty unpleasant side effects, such as diarrhea, stomach pains, vomiting, or indigestion.
It’s no wonder that cats have such a sensitive stomach as they are genetically engineered to have a diet strictly composed of meat. Consider that, if you choose to give your cat store-bought yogurt, you might also give her the chemicals and artificial emulsifiers present in the product. In the long run, these can cause severe secondary health problems which could affect your pet’s overall health.
What to do if your cat eats yogurt
There’s no need for you to panic if you’ve noticed that your cat ate some yogurt and you didn’t actually feed it to her. The best thing to do is to keep your cat under observation for as many as twenty-four hours. If any digestive distress happens during that time, get in touch with your veterinarian as soon as possible. It might also be a good idea to call the vet immediately after you’ve noticed that this happened as he or she could give you some useful guidelines on what to do.
To sum up, yogurt is not a safe food for cats and we would advise that you avoid feeding it to your pet. Any types of table scraps can represent a threat to your cat’s physical health and remember that yogurt is made for humans in the first place. Wild cats have never had to eat it as they had no access to it.