Yogurt is a healthy snack for humans and one that people are encouraged to eat. If you are on a diet or on a special yogurt eating plan, you will definitely be consuming large quantities of it.
Like all pet owners, you are always tempted to give some of what you are eating to your beloved pet. However as a concerned cat owner, you have probably read all about how milk and dairy products are bad for your cat, which leads you to the inevitable question, Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
About Cats and Yogurt – Facts you need to know
If you are a proactive cat owner, then you do your research and make it a priority to find out about everything that is in the best interest of your cat. So you have probably heard about how milk and dairy products are bad for your cat for several reasons.
For one, cats cannot digest sugar since they lack the amylase enzyme and secondly, they cannot digest cow’s milk because adult cats are lactose intolerant. This makes dairy products a threat to cats and pet owners also now look at them in a different way.
So if yogurt is a dairy product, which it is, then this means that cats cannot consume yogurt too, right? Wrong! Yogurt is a unique dairy product and even though it is made from cow’s milk, it contains natural bacteria and active yogurt cultures.
What this basically means is that these cultures break the lactose down into lactic acid, during the process of fermentation. So ultimately, since the lactose has already been broken down by the yogurt, cat’s digestive systems do not have to work overtime to digest the yogurt.
There is one exception to this rule. The cultures break down the lactose, but what happens to the sugar, since cats digestive systems cannot process that too? Well, the rule is that cats can eat yogurt that is plain and unsweetened only. This may not taste like the best option for you or your cat; however, it is the only healthy option if you want to feed your cat yogurt.
Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
Yes! While plain and unsweetened yogurt has many health benefits for your cat, you should remember that some cats may be allergic to it. So if you intend on giving your cat yogurt for the first time, try a small amount and wait to see if your cat has a negative reaction to it.
Also remember that the only kind of yogurt that is good for your cat is the unsweetened, plain yogurt. Yogurt that is flavored contains sugar and additives, all of which are bad for your cat’s health.
This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, which in turn leads to dehydration as well. So just remember to only serve your cat plain, unflavored and unsweetened yogurt, in order to avoid several digestive issues.
Serve a minimum amount of yogurt to your cat and if you really want to be cautious, do so only once a week, with a maximum amount of two or three teaspoons. Always start off with the tiniest bit and wait for 24 hours to see if your cat is having any side effects. If there symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, discontinue feeding your cat yogurt, period. It may just be one of the foods that your cat is allergic to or has a low tolerance for. So rather be safe than sorry.
Cats are what you call obligate carnivores, meaning that they get all their nutrients from meat sources. So they do not need yogurt or any other dairy product to be healthy or survive as they have done so for thousands of year, without yogurt.
All you need to feed them in order for them to get all they need in their diet is a premium cat food. So if you ever want to give it to you cat as a treat, do so in moderation.
Yogurt – Are there any Benefits?
According to experts, plain and unsweetened yogurt is packed full of goodness for your feline friend. This is mainly because it contains live and active bacteria, which contain valuable nutrients for your cat. Some of the benefits of yogurt are as follows:
- The calcium strengthens bones and help build muscle
- The live cultures keep your cats teeth healthy and prevents gum disease
- The active live bacteria also helps to brings relief to an upset stomach , which could be the result of swallowing too many hairballs
- It can also prevent vomiting by calming down an upset stomach
- The plain yogurt contains probiotics which binds your cat’s stomach, when he is suffering from diarrhea. Just give your cat about 5ml before his main meal to help settle his stomach.
- A small amount of yogurt given daily can give your cat a bigger appetite
- Because of the probiotic nature of plain yogurt, it can also help your cat with allergies.
- Bowel movements are made healthier and digestive problems are relieved due to the probiotics
- Antibiotics tend to kill bad as well as good bacteria in the body. The active bacteria helps to restore the good bacteria back to the intestinal tract.
- The probiotics and live cultures can also strengthen the cats immune system
So from the information above, it is easy to see how a little plain yogurt can give you a happier and healthier cat.
How to Serve Yogurt in your Cats Diet?
As you now know, yogurt is packed full of creamy goodness for your cat. So you can treat him to it with a clear conscious. However, remember that the yogurt must be unsweetened and unflavored in order for your cat to truly get all of that goodness out of it.
Your cat will obviously have a routine when it comes to meals and the nutrition that he gets from his cat food is more than enough to keep him healthy and happy. However, if you would like to give him a treat every now and again, plain, unsweetened yogurt is a great choice.
As long as you remember that the yogurt should contain no sugar or flavors then you cat will enjoy it and have no side effects later on, provide they are not allergic to it.
How you choose to serve it to your cat is entirely up to you. It is however, advisable to serve it to him or her in their snack bowl or plate. There is no need to add anything to it and the taste of the plain yogurt is enough to make your feline friend happy.
So you don’t really need to worry about adding anything extra, especially if the extras contain sugar, because this will defeat the purpose of serving him the plain yogurt. The sugar will also come with its own set of problems as cats cannot digest it. So it will probably lead to an upset stomach and so on.
To avoid all of this and give your cat a healthy treat that will make them feel better and not worse, just keep things simple and stick to the plain and unsweetened yogurt.
In order to deal with conditions such as an upset stomach or diarrhea, you can give you cat a teaspoon just before the main meal and it should bind a running tummy as well as ease a queasy and upset stomach.
For cats that do not have much of an appetite, you can also give them a teaspoon daily to boost their appetite for food. It also boosts your immune system.
If your cat is being treated for an infection and is on an antibiotic treatment, it can kill the good bacteria along with the bad ones. The plain yogurt, due to its probiotics will restore these much needed good bacteria to the intestines.
When given daily or routinely, the calcium helps to strengthen teeth and reduce the risk of gum disease. One of the best things that you can do in order to be on the safe side is consult with your vet prior to feeding or introducing your cat to plain yogurt.
If your cat is already suffering frequent health conditions such as upset stomach, diarrhea and loss of appetite, your vet may advise you to give your cat a daily dose of plain yogurt until his condition improves. This is because plain yogurt is the most natural form of yogurt and has been proven to help cats overcome the upset stomach, diarrhea and improves their appetites as well.
Are there any Side Effects from Eating Yogurt?
While some yogurts may be good for your cat, others could be downright hazardous to his health. Your cat should only be given plain, unsweetened yogurt that is also not flavored in any way. Plain yogurt contains probiotics and live cultures that all contribute to the overall wellbeing of your cat.
However, it is when you introduce flavored yogurt, containing sugar into the picture that your cat could get sick. Sugar is one substance that a cats body was never designed to break down. This is because they do not contain the enzymes needed to digest sugar. The amylase enzyme is not present in a cats system. This makes it harder to digest sugar and sugary substances. In fact your cat’s digestive system has to work overtime in order to get the sugar digested.
Some of the symptoms that you will notice if your cat has ingested flavored yogurt are an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea, flatulence and bloating. These are all typical of the body’s reaction to the high amounts of sugar in flavored yogurt.
If you notice any of these symptoms after your cat has eaten flavored yogurt, you should take the following steps:
- Contact your vet as soon as you can
- Explain that your cat has eaten flavored yogurt
- Describe the symptoms that your cat is experiencing
- Take your cat into the veterinary clinic as soon as possible
- Your vet may have advised you to bring a sample of your cats stool or vomit for further testing, in which case, you would have done so prior to going to the vet
- A thorough physical examination will be carried out on your cat to ensure that there is no serious damage.
- Your vet may advise you that your cat should remain there for a few days so they can monitor his behavior or condition and this is only if he is in a bad way
- If he is well enough after a few hours, you may be able to take him home
- Your vet will advise you to monitor his condition and may give you medication for your cat to help him on his way to recovery.
After that, there is pretty much nothing to worry about. Just remember that after an experience like this, you should take every precaution to keep flavored yogurt and sugary foods out of reach of your cat. Just because they were lucky once, doesn’t mean it will happen a second time. Cats are resilient to many things, one of them being – heights; however their tiny bodies make them vulnerable to lots of other things.
So ensure that you keep your cat safe at all times. Don’t leave things that you enjoy eating in his reach. He doesn’t know any better and the onus is on you as his owner to keep harmful food away from him.
The Bottom Line – Can Cats Eat Yogurt?
If given the right type of yogurt, which is plain and unsweetened, your cat will reap the health benefits. However, don’t take a chance and try to give him flavored yogurt or one that has sugar in it, knowing very well how sugar can wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive system. So in a nutshell, yes you can feed your cat yogurt as long as you make sure it’s the right kind.
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