Have you ever caught your cat staring at you while you enjoy your morning yogurt and thought, wait, can cats eat yogurt?
Feeding our pets requires careful thought and consideration, especially when it comes to giving treats.
In this article I’ll cover the basics on yogurt for cats, is it bad for them, and should they even eat it.
After about 10 weeks, cats are fully weaned from their mothers milk. It’s at this age they start to develop an intolerance to lactose, and because yogurt is a dairy product, they shouldn’t really be eating it.
Even though cats are lactose intolerant, they can still eat yogurt without any real harm. Just keep it to a minimum.
Yogurt is a dairy product produced through milk bacteria fermentation. It’s highly recommended for humans due to its many health benefits, which vary from improving digestion and bone strength.
However, yogurt does not provide any nutritional value to cats. Their digestive system works in a completely different way.
Kittens drink their mothers milk from birth until 4-5 weeks of age. After that, the weaning process starts. They are usually fully weaned after about 10 weeks, then they start to switch from milk to solid kitten food.
A cats lactose intolerance, although not toxic, can lead to stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. So whilst yogurt is not toxic for them, it can upset their stomachs.
Cats, like all felines, are carnivores by nature, their diet consisting mostly of meat, which helps improve their vision, reproductive functions and heart condition.
The nutrients found in yogurt are however beneficial for felines – for this reason, it is usually recommended for adult cats with digestion issues.
If you decide to allow kitty a tasty lick, make sure you feed them very small amounts and observe how they react to it. A cat that runs straight to the litter box, is obviously a bad sign.
If your cat is allergic, reactions can be as harmful as vomiting, diarrhea and indigestion. Due to their sensitive stomach, they will feel a lot of pain.
The situation is different for kittens. Nature made sure of this by enabling kittens to produce enzymes which break down lactose and help them digest it.
The enzyme production decreases with age and for this reason, many adult cats are lactose intolerant, if not all.
Pro Tip: Plain, unsweetened yogurt is recommended for cats with stomach issues or loss in appetite. A small amount of yogurt can be used to solve this problem.
Overall, yogurt is not bad for your cat unless they have an allergic reaction to it.
Many specialists will recommend a small amount of yogurt to help with your pet’s health issues, such as stomach discomfort or lack of appetite. It can also help improve their immune system.
Aside from that, it can make your cat’s teeth whiter and improve gum health. The vitamin B12 contained in yogurt will prevent anemia and the vitamin B2 can help your pet metabolize all the proteins needed for her diet.
If you do decide to give your cat yogurt, start with the smallest amount possible. Quite literally a lick of the spoon is where I’d start.
Specialists will recommend no more than three or four tablespoons in a week for a cat. A tablespoon before the main meal will help older cats who have digestion issues.
As with any food consumed in excess, too much yogurt is bad for your cat. It can damage its stomach and digestive system, causing discomfort and even pain. Stick to what is recommended.
If your cat is not allergic to yogurt, then feel free to experiment with a small dose once in a while! Here are some suggestions about various yogurt types and flavors.
This is the safest option you can go for, as long as it is unflavoured and unsweetened. Any flavored yogurt that’s filled with sweeteners (sugar, corn syrup) and other chemicals which present a real danger to your cat.
For this reason, it is most recommended to choose a plain yogurt, not too much of it, though! A tablespoon per serving should be enough for your feline.
Pro Tip: Cats can eat honey flavored greek yogurt, just keep it to a minimum.
Strawberry flavored yogurt is likely to be filled with sugar, and is a big no-no. Sugar will upset your cat’s stomach.
It’s likely to contain preservatives and additives, which are toxic to our pets. All of these reasons makes it a no go when it comes to feeding your cat.
However, If your cat enjoys strawberries, just mix fresh strawberries with plain yogurt instead. This is both delicious and a healthy snack for them, just remember, everything in moderation.
Similar to strawberry yogurt, blueberry flavored yogurt is often highly processed.
However, wild blueberries are loved by humans for not only their taste, but antioxidant properties and multitude of vitamins.
Since this superfood has the same positive effects on felines as on humans, fresh, natural blueberries a good idea for your pet. Mix a few fresh blueberries with some greek yogurt for a healthy snack!
Vanilla yogurt is not recommended for cats, ever! Besides the additives and preservatives which come with the flavoring, vanilla flavor represents an extra harm for your cat’s health.
It’s likely to contain ethanol, which of course is toxic to felines. Ethanol ingestion can lead to hypothermia, vomiting or even heart attacks. Scary!
Even if the yogurt does not contain ethanol, it’s artificially sweetened and it has many additives. Which we all know are bad for our pets, and us.
If your cat is not allergic to yogurt, a small portion of plain, unsweetened yogurt might have some benefits if something upsets your cat. A small amount of yogurt can help with your cat’s digestive problems.
Moreover, it might improve the health of her teeth and gums, the potassium contained in yogurt will also strengthen your cat’s muscles and nerves.
By now it should be obvious that cats can eat yogurt, but, they really don’t need to be. Sure they like the smell, and some like the taste, however, I’d still recommend going for a healthy cat treat over yogurt.
As long as your cat is not allergic to yogurt, the short answer is yes!
Although their diet should predominantly be based on meat, the vitamins and probiotics contained within the yogurt could help improve your pet’s health and general wellbeing.
If your cat has a sensitive stomach, I wouldn’t recommend feeding them yogurt. Instead find them a good quality sensitive stomach cat food.
Feeding your cat plain, unsweetened yogurt is a relatively healthy treat, it can also help with digestion issues they might be having. If you still want to give it a try, remember start out with a small amount.