Can Cats Eat Yogurt?

I walk into the kitchen, feeling sleepy and almost as if I’m not in control of my own body. It’s time for my next glass of yogurt according to my diet plan. I open my fridge, take the packet of yogurt out, get a clean glass, and pour the thick liquid mass of health into the glass with a faraway stare in my eyes. It’s all quite mechanical since I’m starting to get into the rhythm of things.

What Is Autism?

One of my New Year resolutions was to lose all the weight I had eagerly gained over Christmas and I’m determined to get that done. If I’m going to do anything new this year I might as well start by cleaning up last year’s mess. I feel a soft brush of fur across my lower calf through the fabric of my pyjamas. I don’t have to look down to know that Scratch, my cat, is curious about what I’m having. I almost instinctively look for her food bowl so I can give her some of my yogurt when a question pops into my mind and makes me stop to think: can cats eat yogurt?

Laying the Facts on the Table

If your cat is as inquisitive as Scratch, then you know he or she will eat just about anything you give him or her. Scratch always wants some of what I’m having, and as a caring pet parent, I always want to comply with her wishes. But human food and cat food don’t always intersect. Treasure for me might be trash for Scratch; very poisonous trash.

As soon as I wondered if yogurt is really good for cats, I decided to put my detective hat on and go do some quick research.  The very first thing I found out was that dairy products in general are an emphatic no-no for our feline heartthrobs.

I’ve probably mentioned a dozen times before that cats can’t digest sugars and other carbs like humans can because they lack the most important enzyme in the digestion of sugar: amylase. That’s strike one against dairy products, some of which have a sizeable amount of sugar in them.

Strike two is the main component found in dairy products: lactose. Kittens are okay with milk because they have to suckle their mothers anyway. Adult cats, on the other hand, are lactose intolerant.

Milk is bad for cats on both these counts, making cat owners around the world extra careful about what their cats eat and drink. If you grew up on Tom and Jerry like me, then you probably grew up thinking that milk was the perfect treat for a cat. Tom got it all the time. As it turns out, we grew up on a lie. Bummer!

So, with that said, isn’t yoghurt bad for cats too? Based on the information above, you shouldn’t allow your cat within ten feet of a bowl of yoghurt, right? Wrong! Yoghurt is a dairy product, but it’s a special kind of dairy product. It’s fermented milk, which means it contains bacterial cultures that have broken down all the dangerous components into a form the digestive tracts of cats can handle.

The bacteria in yoghurt break down all the lactose in milk into lactic acid, which is a lot gentler on the cat’s digestive system. But what about the sugar? These bacteria don’t act on sugar, so there’s a caveat about the type of yoghurt you should be serving your cat. It should be plain, without any additives or sugar. It definitely doesn’t sound like it tastes like heaven, but it’s the healthiest option for your cat.

It’s Not Really Necessary, Though

So can cats eat yoghurt? The answer is a qualified yes. You need to make sure your cat doesn’t have a yoghurt allergy first, though. Try not to give a full bowl of yogurt to your cat the very first time. Ease her into it. Also, don’t forget to give her only plain yoghurt without any additives or artificial sweeteners.

If you make the mistake of giving your cat yoghurt with additives and sugar in it, she’s likely to have severe nausea and diarrhoea, which will leave her dehydrated. You should therefore be careful about the quality of the yoghurt you give your cat.

To find out if your cat is allergic to yoghurt, give her a tablespoon or two to start her off and wait to see if she develops any reactions to it. If she does react negatively, then refrain from giving her any more yoghurt. Don’t worry, it won’t be really be missed by her body.

Cats get everything they need to be healthy from meat. Yoghurt isn’t essential in their diet. It’s more of a treat you could give them once in a while. If you really care about your cat’s health, then a well formulated cat food is the way to go.

Does Yoghurt Help Cats?

So we know yoghurt isn’t really necessary in a cat’s diet, but it might still be a good idea to include it once in a while if it has some benefits. As it turns out, yoghurt actually has some great benefits for your cat that will help her overall. These include the following:

  • Some of the probiotics in yogurt can actually boost the strength of your cat’s immune system.
  • Yogurt has some bacteria that clean your cat’s teeth and keep the gums healthy.
  • Yogurt provides your cat with calcium, which contributes to the development of healthy bones and muscles.
  • ​Yogurt will calm your cat’s stomach when he or she is having diarrhoea. You can give them a tablespoon or two just before the main meal to help settle the stomach.
  • Yogurt will calm your cat’s stomach when he or she is having diarrhoea. You can give them a tablespoon or two just before the main meal to help settle the stomach.
  • Yogurt provides your cat with calcium, which contributes to the development of healthy bones and muscles.

How Much Yogurt Should You Give Your Cat?

Yoghurt is okay for your cat, even having some benefits to boot. However, it isn’t necessary and should generally be viewed as a treat you give your cat from time to time. You should also be careful to only give your cat plain yoghurt without any sugar or additives.

The amount of yoghurt you give your cat depends on you. You can put some in her food bowl or plate just before she eats to help with her digestion and maybe a little from time to time as a snack.

It’s also a good idea to give her a tablespoon or two from time to time when she’s on antibiotics. Antibiotics kill lots of bacteria in your cat’s body, particularly the digestive tract. This is great when it’s the only the bad bacteria that are dying. Unfortunately, antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria indiscriminately. Giving your cat some yoghurt while she’s on antibiotics will help to restore some of the good bacteria in her stomach during this period.

Wrapping Up

To be completely on the safe side, keep your yogurt out of your cat’s reach. She probably doesn’t know what’s good for her and will let her curiosity get the better of her. This is especially important if you have any flavored yogurt lying around the house. Let your cat only have yogurt when you’re around so you can be sure what type she’s having. She’ll love you all the more when you care for her.

Rebecca Welters
 

Yes, I am that weird cat lady with 200 cats and live in the darkest corner of the city where no one dares to go! Joking! But I am a cat lover and have 2 Ragdoll cats called Toby, he's 3 years old and Dory, she's 8 years old. I'm 36 years old and live in the quiet town of Washington. PawsomeKitty.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their cats; however, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. Always consult a vet.

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