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The quick answer: Yes, in very limited amounts. Proceed with caution.
For humans, yogurt can be a go-to food for digestion or other stomach-related issues. If your cat faces a similar ailment, you might think yogurt is the way to go. The fact is, though, that while cats can eat yogurt, you shouldn’t let them eat too much and you should definitely be careful about which yogurt they consume.
Most store-brand yogurts these days are packed with sugar, which is a no-no for cats. Cats produce very little amylase, the enzyme that starts carbohydrate digestion, so sugars will provide quite a shock to their little bodies. (Don’t worry−kitty tongues don’t even have the right taste buds to detect sweetness, so they aren’t craving sweet treats!)
Cats can also have issues with lactose intolerance. As most cats grow out of their kitten phase (at about 12 weeks), they lose the ability to digest dairy. While that means milks and cheeses are off the table, yogurt can still be okay because the natural bacteria in the live yogurt cultures can break down the lactose during the fermentation process.
Benefits of yogurt
A small amount of yogurt can have several benefits for your kitty. Yogurt is packed with calcium, which strengthens bones, teeth and muscles. Calcium also aids in blood clotting and nerve function. Yogurt also contains magnesium, which helps your kitty absorb important ingredients in its food, like vitamin C, potassium, and sodium. Magnesium also helps with blood pressure management.
The bacteria in yogurt are also great for whitening your cat’s teeth and preventing gum disease. Yogurt’s probiotic properties are helpful with digestion in cats just like with humans. This could assist with hairballs, by working with the intestines’ natural bacteria.
Hazards of yogurt for cats
While cats can consume yogurt, you should strongly limit the amount they eat. Cats shouldn’t ingest more than 3 to 5 tablespoons in a single week.
If your cat vomits or has diarrhea, they may be allergic to yogurt. Make sure you read the label carefully to make sure the yogurt has no additional sugar added. Sugar often hides behind other names, so lookout for corn sweetener, fructose, glucose, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, sucrose, or anything with the word “syrup.”