Your feline friend may sniff around excitedly at your tasteful human food choices, but can Maine Coons eat cheese? Keep reading to find out whether cheese is cat-safe.
Maine Coon cats can consume small quantities of cheese on occasion, but it should not be a daily treat and should not make up more than 10% of their diets. Most adult Maine Coons are lactose intolerant, so consuming cheese may cause symptoms like bloating, gas, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Which types of cheese are the best to offer Maine Coons, and what exact quantities are safe? And what are all the risks behind feeding your cat cheese?
Keep reading to understand the ins and outs of feeding cheese to Maine Coons.
Keep scrolling to also read the results of a poll conducted by Katrina Stewardson on Maine Coon Central’s YouTube channel, where viewers were asked if it was safe to feed Maine Coon cats chocolate.
What do you think the results were?
Can Maine Coons Eat Cheese?
Maine Coons originated as wild hunting cats in Maine, spending harsh winters surviving thanks to their dense coats and powerful, muscular bodies.
Their prey in the wild includes small birds, rodents, insects, lizards, and reptiles, all of which are perfect meals to suit their obligate carnivore diet.
With the domestication of this giant cat breed, their dietary requirements for animal protein have not changed, but the way they consume it has.
With a new menu of human food items possible for this now-domesticated breed, Maine Coon owners have various questions about what they can and cannot eat.
Animal meat is acceptable, but can you feed cheese to a cat, specifically the Maine Coon?
What we advise is that diary items are not necessary for the feline diet, and it is generally best to avoid feeding cheese to Maine Coons because of their lactose intolerance.
If they eat cheese in very small amounts and only on occasion, it will not harm them, but there are risks involved.
Is Cheese Good For Cats?
Cheese is not beneficial for Maine Coons.
Adult Maine Coons cannot properly digest dairy products, and while kittens can, the only dairy they should consume is their mother’s milk.
Cheese is not helpful, but does cheese harm cats?
Review the factors below on the topic to gain a full understanding of why it is not safe for your Maine Coon cat to eat cheese:
The biggest issue with feeding cheese to adult Maine Coons is that they are lactose intolerant.
Their digestive systems cannot process the lactose in dairy, so when they consume it, it ferments in their digestive tracts.
Lactose intolerance leads to problems like:
Maine Coons may be allergic to dairy products like cheese and yogurt, although they are not as likely to have allergies as other cat breeds.
Just one slice of cheddar cheese has nearly 200 milligrams of sodium, which is not good for a Maine Coon’s daily sodium limitations.
Some sodium is healthy, but too much can lead to:
- Even Seizures
Fat should make up 20 to 30% of a Maine Coon’s diet, but the fat content in cheese could be too much for a Maine Coon, on top of their normal diet.
Is cheese bad for cats in terms of caloric content?
Owners must always be cautious about feeding extra snacks to their Maine Coons to prevent overeating, weight gain, or diabetes.
Treats, including small pieces of cheese, should not exceed about 10% of a feline’s diet.
Hard types of cheese could be a possible choking hazard to Maine Coons if the cheese is the wrong size.
Toxic Ingredient Potential
If you extract a bit of cheese from a dish you are cooking and try to feed it to your Maine Coon, there is a risk that the cheese contains food or herbs that are toxic to cats.
Over-The-Top Cheese Attraction
Some Maine Coons who get a taste for cheese may not be able to leave it alone after trying it.
They may become exceptionally demanding anytime you pull a slice out of the cheese drawer, which can be bothersome or stressful.
Dental Health Implications
Without regular teeth cleaning, cheese could add to a Maine Coon’s dental health problems, like plaque build-up or dental disease.
If you try to use cheese as a substitute for high-protein cat food, it may cause nutritional deficiencies in your Maine Coon.
Possible Benefits Of Feeding A Maine Coon Cat Cheese
Below are the potential benefits to your cat if you feed them cheese:
There is some protein in cheese, although Maine Coons get their protein intake in the form of animal protein.
Cheese should not substitute cat-friendly, high-protein wet food.
Calcium is another nutritional substance that Maine Coons receive from animal meat, but cheese does contain calcium, which adds to bone health.
Offering new, cat-safe treats to Maine Coons helps keep them stimulated and gives them a little variety outside their usual daily menu, which is a possible benefit of cheese.
Even so, there are more appropriate and healthy options that have this benefit.
How Much Cheese Can You Give A Cat?
This dairy product does more harm than good for Maine Coons, but can cats have a small amount of cheese?
The answer is yes, but only if it is a tiny portion and is not fed to Maine Coons every day.
Once every few weeks (or even less) is acceptable.
Maine Coons should only eat a fraction of a slice of cheese at a time. This limit is especially important if your Maine Coon has never tried cheese before.
Do not feed a whole slice or stick of cheese to your cat.
Do not give your Maine Coon any cheese if they have conditions like:
- Kidney Problems
The fat and sodium content in cheese can exacerbate these issues.
Signs Of Lactose Intolerance In Cats
The majority of adult cats, including Maine Coons, do not produce enough lactase to digest the lactose content in cheese or other dairy products.
This digestive inability results in several negative symptoms that Maine Coon owners will notice in their cats, including the following (source 1):
Gas, Stomach Pain, Bloating
When Maine Coons eat cheese, the lactose starts to ferment in their intestines, which causes gas. The result is bloating and stomach pain.
Vomiting And Diarrhea
Are you wondering, are cats allergic to cheese?
If so, you should note that a dairy allergy and lactose intolerance are separate conditions, but both can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Lactose intolerance will not result in skin irritation, inflammation, and rashes, but a dairy allergy will.
Dehydration, Dry Gums
When Maine Coons eat cheese, they may become dehydrated and get dry gums due to lactose intolerance.
If your Maine Coon’s gums feel sticky to the touch (and not slimy and wet), then it is a sign of lactose intolerance.
After feeding your Maine Coon a little cheese, do they have trouble with bowel movements?
Constipation is a result of the digestive system’s inability to process the lactose in cheese.
Loss Of Appetite
A Maine Coon with lactose intolerance might feel too distressed after eating cheese to eat much else.
You might notice that they eat less or not at all for the remainder of the day.
Lactose intolerance may cause:
- Avoidance Of Playtime
If your Maine Coon has just eaten cheese and begins drinking more water than usual, it is a sign of lactose intolerance.
Lactose-intolerant Maine Coons might lose weight over time if they continuously eat cheese and other dairy products.
This effect is caused by ongoing dehydration and appetite loss.
What Cheese Is Best For Cats?
The best types of cheese to feed Maine Coons are those with the lowest lactose levels since most adult Maine Coons are lactose intolerant.
Let’s take a closer look at the different types of cheese available:
Are you wondering, can cats eat cheddar cheese?
The answer is that small amounts of cheddar cheese are acceptable.
Cheddar cheese is one of the best types of cheese to feed Maine Coons due to its lower-than-average lactose content.
The Swiss variety is another low-lactose cheese that is more suitable for Maine Coons than many other kinds of cheese.
In small amounts, Swiss cheese should not upset a cat’s digestive tract severely.
Cheddar and Swiss cheese are alright, but can cats eat mozzarella cheese?
As a softer cheese, this variety has higher levels of lactose.
It may not wreak too much havoc on a Maine Coon’s tummy in tiny portions, but it is better not to feed your Maine Coon cat mozzarella cheese.
This firm cheese is lower-than-average in lactose, so it is more likely not to cause problems for Maine Coons in small amounts.
Cream cheese is a combination of unskimmed cow’s milk and cream with high fat and lactose content.
Maine Coons may crave the fat in this type of cheese, but it is not good for them to consume because they cannot usually digest it.
Maine Coons should not eat blue cheese because it contains a mold called penicillium that is toxic to cats.
Due to penicillium’s toxicity, even small amounts could cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Like parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard type of cheese made from skimmed cow’s milk.
It has a lower fat and lactose content than many other cheeses, so it is a bit safer for Maine Coons to try in small quantities.
This semi-hard type of cheese is similar to Swiss cheese.
It is made of cow’s milk, and while you still should not feed it to Maine Coons regularly, it is alright in moderation.
Is Cooked Cheese Safe For Cats?
Have you just cooked a tasty, human-food meal that contains gooey cheese?
Giving a small amount of melted or cooked cheese to Maine Coons is not toxic, but it is also not ideal!
It could also be harmful if the cooked cheese contains other ingredients, like butter or oil.
Can Cheese Kill Cats?
Cheese is not helpful to cats and can cause stomach issues, but is cheese poisonous for cats?
Extreme amounts of cheese may cause potentially life-threatening situations for Maine Coons, but cheese is not a toxin for them.
Severe symptoms like continuous diarrhea or diabetes from long-term cheese consumption may indirectly become fatal.
Does Cheese Make Cats Hyper?
Some Maine Coons might go a little crazy over a piece of cheese.
They can smell the fat and protein in this dairy item, and if it appeals to them, they could become hyper!
Eating cheese may give them a burst of energy, but Maine Coons should not eat large quantities of cheese to sustain their energy throughout the day.
Can Kittens Eat Cheese?
Maine Coon kittens should not eat cheese.
For the first four weeks of a Maine Coon kitten’s life, they should only consume their mother’s milk.
The next four to six weeks are a weaning period, where a kitten loses their dependence on its mother’s milk (source 1).
Once the kitten is around eight to ten weeks old, it should only eat kitten formula mixed with wet or dry food.
Maine Coons kittens should not drink cow’s milk or eat cheese of any kind during this stage because it will cause gastrointestinal upset.
My Cat Ate Cheese; What Should I Do?
If your Maine Coon cat just ate a large amount of cheese, you need to pay close attention to them for the next few hours and be prepared to handle symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Soft cheese, like mozzarella, cream cheese, or feta, is more likely to cause digestive issues.
Provide fresh, clean water for your Maine Coon so it can stay hydrated while it recovers from the ingested cheese.
Cheese is not toxic.
However, if your Maine Coon ate an especially large quantity you should consult your daytime veterinarian with specific concerns about your cat’s cheese consumption or symptoms.
Maine Coons who eat cheese are not likely to require a trip to the emergency vet, however, this will be dependent upon the amount and type of cheese consumed.
If the cheese was mixed with an ingredient that is toxic to cats, like garlic or onion, then an emergency vet visit would be necessary.
Some Maine Coon owners may still be thinking, but my cat loves cheese! But all things considered, can Maine Coons eat cheese?
They can technically eat small amounts of cheese occasionally without undergoing too much harm.
However, owners must consider that most adult cats are lactose intolerant.
With the risk of stomach discomfort, it is best to find a more cat-friendly treat to add a little variety to your Maine Coon’s diet.
Research Study: Can Maine Coon Cats Eat Chocolate?
YouTube Research: Is Chocolate Harmful For Maine Coon Cats?
In a unique research study conducted by Katrina Stewardson on the Maine Coon Central YouTube channel, in October 2023, viewers were asked if they thought chocolate was harmful to Maine Coon cats.
Of the 189 viewers that entered the poll, 95% of Maine Coon cat lovers were aware that chocolate is harmful to a Maine Coon.
However, 5% of the respondents did not realize the danger chocolate posed to this large cat breed, which was very worrying.