Cats are lactose intolerant, so for many cat owners, it seems to follow that yogurt would be a no-no, at least by and large. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Yogurt can often be safely given to cats and cats may in turn quite enjoy it, assuming it’s the right kind of yogurt and in small amounts.
Cats do grow up on milk and many of them crave it even after their tummies can no longer handle the lactose (this is why you often have cats demanding milk, ice cream, cream, and yes, yogurt). So, the short answer is yes, cats can generally eat yogurt, but with a couple of caveats. In fact, yogurt does provide a small number of benefits for cats too, making it a good treat.
When we are looking at cats and yogurt, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Cats should only have a small amount of plain, unsweetened yogurt once in a while. If you want to put in extra stuff, go for things like a small amount of blueberry
- Cats can have yogurt because the bacteria found in yogurt breaks down the lactose for them, ensuring that most cats won’t have the lactose intolerant reaction they would to other dairy products. For this reason, yogurt is sometimes given to cats to help with an upset stomach because it’s very mild and easy to eat. That being said, if it’s your cat’s first time, they should only have a small amount and then monitor your pet for any signs of an allergic reaction.
Assuming your cat isn’t allergic to it, yogurt can be a nice treat to have once in a while or as a way to help with weight loss or stomach issues.
Kittens are more likely to be able to handle yogurt since up until about twelve weeks of age, their stomachs can break down lactose. That being said, just like adult cats, they should only have a very tiny amount since they don’t really need it and it may upset their stomachs.
*Note: Vanilla yogurt is not the same as plain yogurt. Cats don’t generally like the flavor of vanilla and the ethanol found in vanilla, even in minuscule amounts, can make your cat sick. When we say plain yogurt, we mean plain yogurt.
Do Cats Like Yogurt?
Personally, I haven’t had any cats go after yogurt, but that could simply be from a lack of opportunity (it’s not something I eat). But since many cats enjoy milk and milk products, it follows that they would enjoy yogurt too. It really depends on the cat.
Do Cats Hate Yogurt?
Some cats may be less sure about the flavor or the texture of yogurt. If your cat doesn’t like it, don’t feel bad. They don’t need it for a healthy diet. If your cat doesn’t like yogurt, it will simply ignore your offering.
Can Yogurt Kill Cats?
Most likely, yogurt will not kill your cat, assuming it’s not horrifically allergic to it.
If you are going to give yogurt to your cat, it should be plain, unsweetened yogurt. Yogurt that is sweetened is often too full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, both of which are not good for cats (particularly artificial sweeteners, some of which come with their own hazards).
In this case, too much yogurt can lead to obesity, diabetes, or other health issues which in long term, can contribute to death. And some cats, if they are allergic, probably won’t get killed by it, but they will be a lot more uncomfortable eating it.
How Much Yogurt is Safe for your Cat?
Cats don’t really require yogurt as part of their diet and it can be high in calories, depending on what you give them. Remember that only 10% of their calories should come from treats and yogurt definitely falls under the heading of ‘treat’. Cats can have about a teaspoon of yogurt per day and it’s best to give it to them in the morning so that they have all day to process it.
This can also help kitties with an upset tummy so that they are more likely to eat their regular breakfast. As long as they are only having about a teaspoon, they can have it daily, and the teaspoon is enough to give them the benefits without the drawbacks. (Kittens should have a lot less yogurt a lot less often. They rely on their mother’s milk for all their nutritional needs).
Some people like to give their cats yogurt with fruit in it. If you do, go for the yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, or strawberries. But these should be in small amounts (due to the sugar content). Peaches, raisins, grapes, and pineapple should not be given to your cat as they can cause diarrhea and other negative reactions. Nuts should also be avoided.
The Benefits of Yogurt for Cats
There are plenty of benefits of yogurt for cats! In fact, this is probably one of the better ‘human’ foods out there for felines, again, assuming you are giving your cat plain or Greek yogurt.
- Yogurt has magnesium which helps cats absorb other nutrients and maintain a good blood pressure
- Calcium for bones, teeth, muscles, and blood clotting
- Potassium for nerves and muscles
- Active bacteria that prevents gum disease and digestive health
- Probiotics to boost the immune system
- The live bacteria also helps with mild stomach issues like hairballs and diarrhea
Yogurt is sometimes a good way to get cats to take antibiotics or other medications, though check with your vet first to make sure there won’t be any awkward side effects or any issues of a reaction between the yogurt and the medicine.
Now, will your cat eat yogurt? Maybe, maybe not. If not, there are plenty of other ways for them to get the benefits through their usual cat food. But a treat of Greek yogurt with plenty of healthy bacteria can be a good way to get some nutrients in there, help with minor tummy issues, and encourage cats to take medication if cleared by their vet.
Yogurt is overall safe to give to cats and an easy treat to have every morning.
Does your cat eat yogurt?