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Can Cats Eat Cream Cheese? Here’s What to Know Before They Start Snacking

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Cat owners love spoiling their feline companions now and then, so you may wonder if you can share a delicious dollop of cream cheese with your cat. You've perhaps even noticed your kitty staring longingly at you as you schmear your morning bagel. That said, it’s important to consider whether the treats you give are actually good for her. We’ve all seen the classic image of cats sipping on saucers full of milk or cream, which can understandably lead us to believe all cats must love dairy. However, according to animal experts, we should think twice before serving up any lactose-laden dishes to our cats.

Can Cats Eat Cream Cheese?

The ASPCA explains, “Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.” This is similar to humans who develop lactose intolerance as they grow older. 

Think about it: When was the last time you saw or heard about a tiger out in the wild eating or drinking dairy? It’s just as unnatural for our smaller domesticated friends. Animal nutritionist Susan G. Wynn tells WebMD that, although some cats are able to digest dairy products fine, most will experience uncomfortable digestive issues or vomiting. The chances of a bad reaction are lower with cheeses, yogurts, and other cultured dairy items that contain less lactose, but it’s still not a good idea to tempt fate. If your feline is determined to sneak bites, though, you can test her reaction to lactose with spoonfuls of milk and observing her over the next couple of days.

What Can Cats Snack On?

First, keep in mind that all treats should be given in moderation. Does your cat come running every time you crack open a can of tuna? There’s no harm in giving her a few bites, but those special snacks should never exceed more than five to 10 percent of their regular diet. The same goes for other “people food” your particular feline might crave. 

Try to find non-food ways to give your cat an extra dose of affection. Consider adding extra playtime with their favorite toy to your daily hangouts instead. The exercise is beneficial not just to their physical health, but mental and emotional well-being, too. 

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