Can cats eat yoghurt?
Yes, most cats can safely eat plain yoghurt in small amounts. Yoghurt is rich in nutrients as well as probiotics which are good for gut health.
Aren’t cats lactose intolerant?
Once a kitten has weaned, lactase production decreases and eventually stops. Lactase is an enzyme is produced by the cells that line the small intestine and breaks down lactose in the milk and converts it into glucose and galactose which can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Once lactase production stops, lactose passes through the small intestine and into the colon, where colonic bacteria ferment it to produce gas (hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4) and short-chain fatty acids. It is this fermentation process that leads to the typical symptoms of lactose intolerance which causes flatulence and stomach upset.
Yoghurt contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, these helpful bacteria break down lactose reducing symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
Yoghurt is good for cats as it contains calcium, vitamins B2 and B12, magnesium, potassium and probiotics which assist with digestion.
While yoghurt is a safe and tasty treat, it is not suitable for all cats including the following:
- Cats with known allergies to milk
- Cats on a diet
- Nursing kittens
- Cats on a food elimination trial
When introducing yoghurt, offer a small amount to begin with and watch for signs of intolerance or allergy which may include flatulence, abdominal pain, itching and scratching.
Do not give low fat or fat-free yoghurt, as it may contain xylitol, a class of sugar-free sweetener known as sugar alcohol. Xylitol has been found to stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas in dogs, which causes a severe drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). When glucose levels drop, the brain can no longer function properly and neurologic dysfunction occurs. Severe cases can lead to brain damage or death.
Yoghurt should be a treat only and should make up no more than 10% of a cat’s diet. It is not a nutritionally balanced and complete food for cats and adds extra calories.
Plain, pot-set Greek yoghurt is best. Pot-set yoghurts contain milk and cultures, which are added to the pot and set. If you want to add flavour, add fresh fruit (such as blueberries or strawberries).
Avoid flavoured yoghurts that contain sugar, artificial sweeteners (including xylitol), flavourings, thickeners and stabilisers to the yoghurt.
Why do cats like yoghurt?
Cats are attracted to the creamy taste of yoghurt.