Yogurt is a super healthy snack for most people and a great source of dairy. However, can cats eat yogurt?
Yes! Plain yogurt is a pretty good snack for cats.
Often when you envision feeding cats, a bowl of milk or cream comes to mind. But this is a stereotype that has been falsely perpetuated for years.
Most adult cats are lactose intolerant! Only kittens can get away with dairy consumption with minimal side effects — provided they have already weaned off mother’s milk.
So, let’s find out what makes yogurt so special, what the health benefits are, and what to watch out for when feeding your cat yogurt.
Why Is Yogurt Safe for Cats?
Most dairy products can mess with a cat’s gut health on account of the little furballs being lactose intolerant. This means that they can’t properly break down or process the lactose found in many dairy foods. Consumption of dairy can often lead to gastrointestinal irritation and issues due to this.
But what about yogurt?
Yogurt is very special when it comes to this. And that’s because yogurt has live, active bacteria cultures in it. While the sound of living bacteria may sound off to you, these are crucial to the safe consumption of yogurt for lactose-intolerant cats (and people).
The bacteria help to break down the lactose from milk into glucose and galactose—leaving behind very little intact lactose. This means that lactose-intolerant cats won’t have any problems digesting yogurt.
Health Benefits of Yogurt for Cats
The bacteria responsible for breaking down the lactose have a very special name — probiotics. And these probiotics do more than just make yogurt digestible. They’ve got a bunch of other great health benefits as well.
Probiotics will help to bolster your cat’s immune system by promoting the growth of natural antibodies. They also prohibit and minimize the growth of harmful gut bacteria ensuring that only good helpful bacteria thrive within their intestinal tracts.
But probiotics aren’t the only positive things inside yogurt. Due to the unique fermentation process during yogurt’s production, the calcium and protein from the milk base are increased in size, providing a great source of these essentials. Yogurt also has plenty of B-vitamins, riboflavin, magnesium, and potassium which are needed to build strong bones, generate red blood cells, and keep your feline energized.
What Type of Yogurt Is Best for Cats?
Yogurt can be a great, healthy addition to your cat’s diet. But only if you feed them the right kind. Unflavored, unsweetened yogurt — preferably Greek — is the way to go.
And no, this does not mean vanilla. Vanilla flavored yogurt is still flavored with extracts that may contain ethanol which may be harmful to your cat in any amount.
Aside from ethanol, flavored yogurt is often packed with sugars and other unhealthy compounds. An artificial sweetener known as xylitol can be especially dangerous, leading to a potential drop in blood sugar or cause liver damage.
But, if you only feed them unflavored, unsweetened yogurt, your cat can have a wonderful daily treat.
How to Feed Your Cat Yogurt
We just mentioned that you can feed your cat yogurt daily. This is a break from the norm as we typically recommend snacks as occasional treats.
But the health benefits of yogurt are hard to ignore. And when fed properly, yogurt can be an excellent part of your cat’s diet.
So, when should you feed them yogurt and how much?
It’s best to feed your cat yogurt during their morning routine, that way they have time to process it throughout their day. Plus, if your cat has an issue with their appetite, the yogurt will help jumpstart it.
Generally speaking, you should only give them a teaspoon daily. They don’t need much more than that to receive the maximum benefits yogurt has to offer.
Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
Cats can not only eat yogurt, it’s encouraged! Provided that they eat the right type and amount, that is.
There are a ton of different health benefits that yogurt can provide your cat to help them lead long healthy lives. Making yogurt a part of your feline’s routine can ensure they get their daily probiotics and nutrients.
Featured image credit: samuelzarsky19, Pixabay