Can I Give My Cat Cottage Cheese?
There have been a wide variety of diet trends over the years, but a few foods have remained relatively popular among dieters and fitness-minded folks alike. One of these foods is cottage cheese, which is often touted as a low-calorie source of protein for athletes or people adhering to low-carb diets. Though it is difficult to find anyone who would consider cottage cheese to be their favorite food, it remains a staple in many health-conscious households. Most people consider cottage cheese to be a pretty noncontroversial food, so, when we open up the fridge in search of a snack for our pets, it may seem like a viable option.
But is it? Can we safely share cottage cheese with our feline friends? Can cats have cottage cheese?
Technically, feeding your cat a small amount of cottage cheese will not kill them, but the answer is no, cats should not consume cottage cheese or any other dairy products. Dairy products are not healthy for cats. No, cow’s milk does not pose nearly the same threat to your cat as truly poisonous foods like chocolate, garlic, and raisins.
It does, however, cause digestive problems—and, when consumed regularly, it can contribute to more serious chronic health issues. If you feed your cat cottage cheese on a regular basis, they may suffer from weight problems, nutritional imbalances, and other unpleasant conditions. If you have already given your cat a little bit of cottage cheese, don’t sweat it, but don’t let it become a habit.
Despite what the large number of cartoon cats who love to lap up bowls of fresh cream may lead you to believe, dairy products are actually not recommended for feline consumption. Cats and most adult mammals are almost universally lactose intolerant. Those of us who grew up with parents who served us milk three times a day may find this a little odd, but, as with so many things, it turns out that humans are the odd ones. Adult lactose intolerance is perfectly reasonable when viewed in the context of evolution.
For several million years, mammals only drank milk during their infancy—they consumed mother’s milk up until they were old enough to eat solid foods, after which point they never consumed milk again. Because their bodies never encountered milk after weaning, our cats’ mammalian ancestors stopped producing the necessary enzymes to process milk sugars. The rule of evolution appears to be ‘use it or lose it,’ so adult mammals lost their ability to digest milk once they were weaned.
Western humans, who farm other animals to drink their milk, are thought to be the only exception to this rule. Your cats’ wild feline ancestors didn’t drink their mother’s milk into adulthood—and they definitely did not eat food products made out of the milk of other species. The process of domestication may have allowed our housecats to develop some degree of tolerance for dairy products, but most cats still struggle to digest them comfortably. Feeding your cat a substantial amount of cottage cheese will most likely trigger the usual symptoms of lactose intolerance, including indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, and gas or bloating.
Things to Consider
It is also important to remember that your cat only needs a couple hundred calories per day to stay healthy. Cottage cheese is relatively low in calories compared to other dairy products, but, if your cat eats it regularly, those extra calories can add up. Cats who consume dairy regularly may gain weight and become obese. Obesity increases your cat’s chances of developing a wide range of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and some forms of cancer.
Though kittens can digest lactose, they should not eat cottage cheese. Cow’s milk is an inadequate source of nutrition for growing kittens. If you have a kitten who still has not been weaned, do not give them dairy products—talk to your vet to find a brand of formula that will help your furry friend meet their dietary needs. Wild kittens do not drink cow’s milk, and domesticated kittens shouldn’t either!
In conclusion, cottage cheese won’t kill your cat, but it’s better to avoid feeding it to them regularly. Most cats are lactose intolerant and will suffer from unpleasant digestive symptoms if they eat too much dairy. This is no cause for concern—dairy products offer little in the way of nutrition for cats anyway!