Healthy diets

Can Cats Eat Yogurt? - Benefits and Contraindications

Laura García Ortiz
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. August 15, 2022
Can Cats Eat Yogurt? - Benefits and Contraindications

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We know they love it, but can cats eat yogurt? The answer is yes, some types of yogurt are safe for cats. However, there are some considerations you should keep in mind before offering yogurt to your cat. In general, cats should not eat dairy products because they contain lactose, a component they usually cannot digest after weaning because they lack the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose.

This AnimalWised article explains if and how to give yogurt safely to your cat, its benefits and contraindications.

You may also be interested in: Can Cats Eat Lentils?
  1. Feeding habits of cats
  2. Can I give yogurt to my cat?
  3. What kind of yogurt can I give my cat?
  4. How to give yogurt to my cat

Feeding habits of cats

To understand the complex and highly individual feeding behavior of the cat, it is important to consider its ancestors. The domestic cat (Felis catus) is an animal adapted to a hunting lifestyle and therefore feeds almost exclusively on prey. Its jaws, digestive system, and behavior have evolved to adapt to this way of life. Throughout the domestication process, the cat has not significantly changed its nutritional and behavioral needs and continues to rely on animal tissue as its primary food source. As carnivores, the eating habits of cats have the following characteristics:

  • They have a typical dentition of a pure carnivore, with fewer premolars and molars, so it is designed for tearing prey and minimal chewing of hard foods, such as some vegetables that herbivores and omnivores eat.

  • They have a smaller stomach and a shorter gastrointestinal tract, but a larger absorption area of their mucosa. Their large intestine lacks microvilli. For this reason, cat food should be more frequent than dog food and more digestible, that is, without a lot of fiber from vegetables or cereals.

  • Cats need a number of essentials amino acids and fatty acids that they can only get from animal tissue protein (meat). These are taurine and arginine. Taurine is essential for many bodily functions, including bile acid conjugation, muscle function, the eye, the heart, reproduction, and cell membrane maintenance. Arginine, on the other hand, is necessary for the formation of urea from ammonia and its excretion, as well as for arachidonic acid, which, when deficient, impairs blood clotting, skin, hair and reproductive functions.

Even though it is difficult to establish a direct link between nutrition and longevity, there is no doubt that inadequate or inadequate nutrition influences critical stages of a cat's life cycle. It is also clear from the above that some diseases have a nutritional component in their development and can have very serious consequences for the cat.

Can Cats Eat Yogurt? - Benefits and Contraindications - Feeding habits of cats

Can I give yogurt to my cat?

As you know, yogurt is a product derived from milk. Although it comes from animals, usually cow's milk, it is not animal tissue and therefore does not provide your cat with the essential nutrients it gets from meat.

Also, yogurt and cheese, although to a lesser extent than milk, contain lactose, a type of sugar that many cats cannot digest. This also makes sense, because kittens drink milk only until the first 2-3 months of life, when their bodies synthesize lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose, which are easily digested.

However, once weaning is complete, almost all cats stop producing lactase and therefore have an unpleasant and difficult digestion of dairy products, especially milk. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal discomfort, flatulence, and even vomiting and diarrhea.

Even if cats can not tolerate dairy products, you can give your cat some natural yogurt as a treat from time to time. However, to avoid digestive problems that could affect the health of your car, you must follow the instructions that we will discuss in the next section.

The characteristics of your cat's stool can give you a lot of information about your cat's health. Read on in this other article where we help you analyze your cat's feces with our cat feces chart.

Can Cats Eat Yogurt? - Benefits and Contraindications - Can I give yogurt to my cat?

What kind of yogurt can I give my cat?

But even though yogurt is a dairy product made from cow's milk and contains lactose, that does not mean your cat can not eat it. Even though yogurt is a dairy product made from cow's milk, it also contains natural bacteria and active yogurt cultures. The two main types of bacteria in yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. In addition, it may also contain other bacterial cultures as well as live active cultures, also known as probiotics.

All this means that these bacterial cultures are essentially responsible for breaking down lactose into lactic acid during fermentation. And since the lactose has already been broken down during the fermentation of the yogurt, the cat's digestive system does not have to work any longer than necessary to digest this food.

If you decide to give your cat yogurt, remember that it must be natural, without artificial flavors or aromas and, of course, without sugar, sweeteners or much fat.

Benefits of yogurt for cats

If you choose a good natural yogurt, our cat will benefit from these nutritional properties even with a small amount:

  • Source of calcium, important for bone metabolism.

  • It facilitates transit and digestion, favoring the elimination of hairs that can accumulate in the digestive tract and form tangles that can cause constipation and serious health problems.

  • It provides nutrients such as magnesium, vitamins B, A and D, phosphorus and iron.

  • Helps with digestive disorders that cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.

If you want to know more about cats and milk, do not miss this other article where we explain in more detail if cats can drink milk.

Can Cats Eat Yogurt? - Benefits and Contraindications - What kind of yogurt can I give my cat?

How to give yogurt to my cat

If you take care to choose a suitable natural yogurt without sugar, and as long as yogurt consumption is not an important part of the daily diet, yogurt can be a good snack or an ideal reward for your cat. However, you should never forget that yogurt is not meat and therefore does not provide your cat with the necessary or essential nutrients.

If you want to give your cat yogurt for the first time, you should first give your cat a small amount to see if your cat reacts to this food. In this case, you should immediately go to the vet and stop giving yogurt. On the other hand, if you find that there are no problems and your cat likes this food, you can easily offer it as a reward once or at most twice a week.

It is best to give your cat yogurt directly with a spoon. You can also put it in a deep container. Giving it in the yogurt container itself is not the most advisable option because it could get cut by the edges.

If you want to learn more about how to feed your cat properly, do not miss this article, where we explain what is the best diet for cats.

If you want to read similar articles to Can Cats Eat Yogurt? - Benefits and Contraindications, we recommend you visit our Healthy diets category.

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Can Cats Eat Yogurt? - Benefits and Contraindications