Have you ever caught your cat staring at you while you enjoy your morning yogurt and thought, can cats eat yogurt?
It can be human nature to want to share our food with our pets but, this can sometimes do more harm than good.
So if you have ever found yourself wanting to share some yogurt with your feline friend then this article is for you.
Let’s take a closer look below at everything there is to know about cats and yogurt!
Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
Plain unflavoured yogurt is not toxic to cats so, yes, your cat can eat small amounts of yogurt without any problems. This doesn’t mean it should be encouraged as a regular treat for your cat.
Yogurt contains prebiotics, which are a class of compounds that may increase the activity of beneficial organisms, such as bacteria, in the gut.
Yogurt also has the potential to help balance normal flora in the gastrointestinal tract.
Don’t go overboard though, if you do decide to treat your cat to some yogurt keep it to a teaspoon at most.
Is Yogurt Toxic For Cats?
Yogurt is not toxic to cats and can be a healthy and safe treat for them. Make sure to choose a fresh unsweetened yogurt that doesn’t contain xylitol on the nutrition label.
The process of making yogurt involves heating the milk to a temperature that denitrogenates its proteins then cooling it to a temperature that will not kill the live microorganisms. That will in turn the milk into yogurt.
It can be achieved by inoculating certain bacteria into milk, mostly Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, then keeping it warm at room temperature for several hours.
It has many health benefits for humans such as improving digestion issues, upset stomach, and abdominal pain.
Yogurt doesn’t provide 100% of its nutritional benefits to cats because their digestive system works completely differently to humans.
In order to absorb lactose in dairy products such as milk, ice cream, and yogurt, lactase enzyme is required to break down that natural sugar compound.
In cats, the lactose process of a mother’s milk isn’t necessarily needed anymore after the kitten is fully weaned (around twelve weeks).
Essentially kittens approximately 12 weeks or older become lactose intolerant and should no longer consume milk or dairy.
When a lactose intolerant cat drinks milk, the undigested lactose passes through the intestinal tract, drawing water with it.
As stated in the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s website, bacteria in the colon can also ferment this undigested milk sugars, producing volatile fatty acids.
All that activity might lead to an upset tummy and induce vomiting. The most common symptom of lactose intolerance in cats is diarrhea, usually within eight to 12 hours.
Are There Any Health Benefits?
The lactase enzyme production decreases with age and for this reason, lactose intolerance in cats develops in most adult cats, if not all.
Some cats can tolerate lactose just fine and sometimes yogurt is recommended for adult cats with gastrointestinal distress.
Yogurt contains vitamins, and minerals, like calcium, potassium, magnesium and folate that will help strengthen bones, nerves, and muscles.
It also contains Taurine, the most important essential amino acid for cats.
It’s critical for normal vision, digestion, heart function, to maintain normal pregnancy and fetal development , and to maintain a healthy immune system
Small amounts of taurine were detected in certain dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and eggs (Laidlaw et al., 1990) according to the Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California.
Some cats have been noted to be allergic to yogurt so you should always start them off with very small amounts. It’s also a good idea to talk with your vet before introducing any new foods into your cats diet.
Be sure that you don’t make yogurt the main part of their diet as there is a chance it will cause some nutrition deficiency diseases. (Obviously, they need meat to survive.)
How Much Is Too Much?
If you decide to give your cat yogurt as an occasional treat, a spoonful of yogurt is more than enough. Don’t feed an adult cat more than three or four tablespoons a week.
Any flavored yogurt that’s filled with sweeteners (sugar, corn syrup), preservatives, additives, and other chemical artificial sweeteners present a real danger to your cat.
You can add ¼ or ½ a teaspoon of honey to plain greek yogurt if you feel the need to mix it up.
Pro tip: Sweet-flavored yogurt such as strawberry yogurt is likely to be filled with sugar. It’s a high caloric food that could lead to obesity or DM (Diabetes Mellitus).
If your cat enjoys fresh fruits like strawberries or blueberries just mix them in fresh with plain yogurt.
Yogurt with vanilla extract is not recommended for cats. EVER!
This is because vanilla extract contains ethanol which is toxic for your cat. It can affect internal organs such as the kidney or liver which play a central role in all metabolic processes in the body.
A high amount of yogurt intake can lead to stomach pain, vomiting, or acute diarrhea especially in cats with a sensitive stomach.
So whilst this delicious fermented milk product is non-toxic for them, it can upset their tummy.
Remember that, This is human food. Not for kitties.
When Should You Consider Yogurt For Your Cat?
Whenever you feed your cat new food, make sure you feed them very small amounts and watch for any symptoms afterwards.
Many specialists will also recommend small amounts of yogurt to help with your cat’s stomach pain, upset stomach, or loss of appetite.
Pro Tip: Plain, unsweetened yogurt is recommended for cats with digestive issues. Small amounts of yogurt can be used to solve microorganisms imbalance in cats with long-term use of antibiotics.
If vomiting or diarrhea occurs, or they seem weak and under the weather – it might be time to call the vet.
Make sure the yogurt is still within its use-by date, that the cat’s bowl is clean, and don’t overfeed them.
By now it should be obvious that cats can eat yogurt, but they really don’t need to.
Other healthy cat treats such as dry meat, chicken or even some safe veggies still recommend over yogurt.
Conclusion On Can Cats Eat Yogurt
As long as your cat is not allergic to yogurt, the short answer is yes!
Feeding them plain greek yogurt with no sugar or additives is the best option.
Even if yogurt has some good health benefits, make sure you don’t make it the main part of your cat’s diet.
A cat’s diet should predominantly be based on a meat protein as a balanced diet. Otherwise, they’ll have issues with organ dysfunction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Yogurt Help My Cat Poop?
Most cats are lactose intolerant so a small amounts of dairy products can help soften stool however, it’s not recommended for this purpose.
Can Cats Eat Coconut Yogurt?
If your cat is having some slight digestive problems, coconut yogurt has some probiotics that could help relieve some pain and is safe to eat in small amounts.