Whenever I have yogurt in my hands, I find that my cat isn’t too far away. I know I can consume yogurt safely, but what about my cat? Many of us know that cats can’t eat dairy, and never to feed them milk, but whether that dairy ban extends to yogurt or not is a whole other question. Before you let your cat have a lick, let’s figure out if cats can eat yogurt, and if they really should.
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You’ve probably heard a little bit about the fact that dairy products don’t generally agree with cats, but why is this? This happens for a few reasons, one of which being that cats can’t digest sugar due to the fact that they lack the amylase enzyme. Adult cats are also lactose intolerant, so they can’t have milk normally.
Remember though, that this is only with adult cats. Kittens can drink milk or eat cream just fine because they normally rely on their mother’s milk to survive. As they get older though, they don’t need milk anymore and stop producing that enzyme allowing for milk to digest. Generally, this begins to occur around 12 weeks.
Milk vs. Yogurt
In reality, there’s no real health benefit to milk. Cats are meant to eat meat for nutritional purposes, so when a cat grows out of the kitten stage, they don’t need milk anymore. Yogurt is a little bit different though. Yogurt may be a dairy product, but it contains good bacteria that actually helps cats digest other dairy products.
Yogurt is different from milk because the lactose has already been broken down during fermentation. Since it’s been broken down already, the cat’s digestive system doesn’t have to work to digest it. Cats still cannot however break down the sugar, which is why you can only feed your cat something plain and unsweetened. If you want to feed your cat yogurt, this is the only healthy option, but they may not like the taste!
Health Benefits of Yogurt
Your cat may not need to eat yogurt, but if they can handle it, it can have a lot of great benefits for your kitty. That’s because of the live active bacteria contained inside, which will provide your cat with some great benefits.
If you do see your cat having diarrhea regularly, around 5ml of yogurt before every meal will solve this problem. The probiotics will get rid of gas and cramps by soothing the digestive track and fixing up indigestion.
Even your cat’s teeth benefit! The living cultures keep the flora in your cat’s mouth balanced, preventing gum disease and keeping the teeth healthy.
Really, there are a lot of benefits to eating plain yogurt, some of which are listed here:
- The calcium strengthens bones and builds muscles
- Relieves upset stomachs, like from swallowing too many hairballs
- Prevents vomiting by calming the stomach
- Small amounts of yogurt can give your cat a bigger appetite
- The probiotics in yogurt improve allergies
- Bowel movements are made healthier while digestive problems are relieved
- Antibiotics kill bacteria as the active bacteria restores good bacteria in the intestines
- Strengthens the immune system
Of course, yogurt also has a lot of nutritive benefits, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium. All of these help your cat absorb nutrients while building up their muscles and bones at the same time. If your cat is being treated for immune problems, has an infection, or is dealing with diarrhea, yogurt may be exactly the thing that you’re looking for to replace bad bacteria and restore the good stuff.
Be aware that if you give your cat too much yogurt, or something sweetened, they can experience vomiting and diarrhea. That can lead to dehydration if you’re not careful, so definitely go for unflavored and unsweetened. You may also see flatulence and bloating. If your cat has eaten sweetened yogurt, keep a close eye on them for any of these issues.
Especially watch out for cases where your cat is allergic to yogurt, and be mindful of the type of yogurt your cat consumes. If you’re not careful, the bacteria in your cat’s digestive system may end up a little bit out of balance. In the case that you’re still concerned or see some adverse effects, always consult with your vet, especially if your cat has been known to experience health issues.
Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
The answer is yes, for the most part. First off, remember that it should only be plain and unsweetened yogurt. When you do feed it to them, start off with small amounts too. In case your cat does have a negative reaction to it, this is the best way to be sure they’re safe. For the most part, your cat should be fine in moderation though, but always remember to keep an eye on them.
How to Feed Your Cat Safely
If you want to give your cat some yogurt, start at the bare minimum. Feed them about two or three teaspoons only once a week. From there, wait 24 hours and check on them to see if they’ve experienced any problems. If there are any instances of vomiting or diarrhea, stop giving it to them immediately. Your cat might even be allergic to it, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Treat the yogurt as a treat when you feed it to your cat, and don’t give it to them all the time! You can serve it in a snack bowl or plate without adding anything extra, since any sugar will defeat the purpose of the plain yogurt. You might find that they don’t not like the flavor, and if they don’t, they simply won’t eat it.
It’s important to be sure that anything we give our cats won’t hurt their health in any way, but can cats eat yogurt? The answer is yes! Cats can have yogurt in moderation, and can even experience tons of health benefits with just a few teaspoons. If you are concerned though, and do see any health problems, always remember to go to your vet to keep your cat happy and healthy for years to come!