Everyone knows that yogurt offers many benefits for humans, but do they offer the same benefits for cats? Cats are carnivores and if in the wild they would not touch anything that was not meat. It just would not make sense for them to eat something like yogurt, cheese, or fish. Their instinct is to go after meat, which has the proteins that their body needs to grow and develop correctly. Our domesticated cats are a bit different. Although they are still carnivores and need protein, they are being offered different foods not normally considered food by a cat. This includes yogurt.
There are no real reasons for a cat to have milk at all and it does not contain very many health benefits. But with yogurt, it is a different story. Yes, it is a dairy product and many cats are lactose intolerant but yogurt does contain good bacteria. They should not eat a lot of it but if they eat a small amount now and then it is not going to hurt them.
Why are cats lactose intolerant?
A kitten needs to drink its mother’s milk so its body produces enzymes that help them to break down and digest lactose. As they get older and start to eat solid foods, their body will start to produce less of this enzyme. Soon they will start to lose the ability to process milk and become lactose intolerant. Generally, this starts happening when a kitten reaches twelve weeks.
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Streptococcus thermophiles
In lactic acid, these bacteria are able to break down the lactose. Lactose is the part of the milk that a cat is not able to digest. Since these are natural bacteria in yogurt, your cat should be able to digest yogurt without any issues.
As mentioned, the live bacteria in yogurt offer your cat many healthful benefits.
- Young cats having diarrhea—you can give your cat 5ml of yogurt before you give her a meal. It will solve the problem due to the probiotics in the yogurt that will help to soothe the digestive tract and help to get rid of the cramps. And yogurt will help fix up digestion
- Teeth—the living bacteria will help to keep the flora in their mouth balanced. Yogurt will help to keep their teeth healthy and prevent gum disease.
- Helps to relieve upset stomachs from swallowing hairballs
- The calcium helps to build muscles and strengthen their bones
- Calms the stomach to help prevent vomiting
- Due to the probiotics, it can help improve their allergies
- Helps to strengthen their immune system
- A small amount can help give your cat a bigger appetite.
- Helps to relieve digestive problems and make their bowel movements healthier
- Has magnesium, potassium, and calcium
- Contains vitamin B, which helps to keep them energetic and healthy
The calcium helps to strengthen their bones; the magnesium helps them to absorb important proteins and vitamins.
How to feed your cat yogurt
Some cats are allergic to yogurt so if your cat has never had yogurt before just give them a little taste. Watch to see if it upsets their stomach and if not, then it is safe to give them yogurt. You should not give them more than a teaspoon of yogurt as a treat occasionally. It can be used also to settle an upset stomach.
Plain or flavored
Make sure that the yogurt is plain and unflavored because the flavored yogurt contains preservatives and artificial sweeteners, which are not good for your cat. They can also have Greek yogurt as long as it is plain. You may want to try a few different brands to see which they like the best.
- Vanilla—it is not toxic to a cat and they can generally eat a small bit of it. The bad thing about vanilla yogurt is that it most likely contains vanilla flavoring and other ingredients that are bad for your cat. Vanilla extract can contain ethanol, which to cats is toxic. Ethanol can cause a variety of symptoms in cats, such as a heart attack or drowsiness. There is a chance that the vanilla extract may alcohol-free but it will contain sweeteners and/or sugars. It is best to stick with plain yogurt.
- Strawberry—strawberries in themselves are non-toxic for cats but they do not contain many health benefits. They are high in natural sugar so they could cause stomach problems. Strawberry yogurt is high in sugar and may contain additives so this could harm your cat. It is best not to feed your cat this type of yogurt.
Simply put, do not give your cat any yogurt that has sugar in it as their body is not designed to break down sugar.
Cats can eat yogurt if it is unsweetened and plain but no more than a teaspoon at a time and then only occasionally. Yogurt does have a lot of benefits for your cat. Never give them any flavored yogurt or with sugar in it as these can cause digestive problems. Yogurt is one of the safer dairy products for cats. It has been recommended that yogurt be a part of a cat’s diet as long as the cat is healthy because of the active, live bacteria cultures found in yogurt. This good bacteria offers a lot of health benefits for your cat.
A small amount of yogurt, about a teaspoon, now and then can help to make your cat healthier and happier. Even though most cats are lactose intolerant the natural bacteria in yogurt are able to break down the lactate once your cat eats it so their digestive system does not have to struggle to break down and digest lactate on its own. Plain, unflavored yogurt is one of the best dairy products you can give an adult cat. If your cat likes milk, then yogurt may be a good substitute for milk. Just make sure first they are not allergic to it.