Can Cats Eat Mac and Cheese? (Or Will it Be Sick?)
If you have some Mac and cheese left over, or just a fan, you may be wondering if its OK for you cat…
Can cats eat mac and cheese?
Cats should not eat Mac and cheese. This is because cheese, and dairy in general, is actually not healthy for cats. They might love the taste, but their bodies are not designed to digest dairy.
So, now you know thatit isn’t a good idea. But, are there any health benefits of this food at all? What about health risks? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more…
What is mac and cheese?
Mac and cheese is short for macaroni and cheese, an extremely popular dish in the United States for everyone from young children and toddlers to adults and the elderly. It is a dish of macaroni with a cheese sauce, usually cheddar, that is boiled or baked, and often comes in pre-packaged boxes.
What is the nutritional content of Macaroni?
Source: USDA (per 100g) *
* See the source for the full list.
Macaroni is pasta, similar texture and nutritional content to other kinds of pasta, such as spaghetti or rigatoni, so it is rich in fiber and carbohydrates. It is low in sodium and saturated fats as well! This can make it a good part of a human’s balanced diet, in moderation.
The core ingredients of pasta are flour, egg, and water. These ingredients separately and together are normally okay for your cat to eat. It’s fiber and carbohydrates, as well as low sodium and saturated fats, are also helpful for digestion and energy.
So if you want your cat to sample macaroni, it isn’t the end of the world. Their bodies aren’t designed for it, so it should be given as a small treat in moderation. However, it gets more complicated when you add the cheese.
What is the nutritional content of Cheese?
Source: USDA (per 100g) *
* See the source for the full list.
High in fat
Cheese is high in both saturated and total fat, as well as calcium, due to being made out of cow’s milk. It is also a better source of protein than one might think at first glance.
There are also several vitamins and other health benefits that can be gained by eating cheese, such as vitamin A, zinc, and riboflavin. However, it is also high in sodium.
This is fine for humans, and can even be healthy in moderation. You may be thinking that strong bones, vitamins, and protein sound good for your cat or kitten as well!
Lactose intolerant cats
However, it requires, as mentioned earlier, a lactase enzyme within the digestive system to be properly digested. Cat’s do not have this and are lactose intolerant, so it will simply be vomited out or result in diarrhea.
Are there any health benefits of Macaroni?
There are many health benefits to macaroni! As mentioned earlier, it is a rich source of carbohydrates, which are extremely important for any diet, as they give you the energy needed to get through the day.
01. Rich in Fiber
It is also rich in fiber, which is very helpful to your digestive system, allowing you to digest it and the other foods you eat more healthily and comfortably.
02. Low fat and sodium
In conjunction with these benefits is that it lacks some unhealthy aspects as well. It is low in sodium and low in fats, which are both unhealthy when consumed in excess.
They are fine in moderation. The problem is they are in a lot of foods, so the more foods you can find without them, the easier it is to keep those numbers low!
Are there any health benefits of Cheese?
Cheese has health benefits as well….
01. Helps to build healthy bones
Cheese helps build healthy bones and muscles due to its high levels of calcium, which promotes healthy bone growth, and protein, which is essential in building your muscles.
02. High in vitamins
Cheese is also high in vitamins and minerals, as mentioned earlier, so it can be a source of some of those as well, in particular vitamin A.
Are there any health risks with Macaroni?
Pasta has a very high amount of carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier, this can be a great thing for giving you some energy to get through the day!
01. Raise blood sugar levels with it carbs?
However, a diet that is too high in carbohydrates can be unhealthy. This is because high carb diets are known to raise blood sugar levels an unhealthy amount. Over time, this can lead to health complications such as high blood sugar, diabetes, or obesity.
Be careful with the amount of macaroni you and your cat consume. It tastes delicious and is fine in moderation, but you and your cat gaining weight from overconsumption of carbs can be detrimental to both of your health!
Are there any health risks of Cheese?
There are health risks to eating cheese as well…
01. Increase cholesterol levels?
Since it is so high in fats and sodium, eating cheese in excess can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is very dangerous.
These are both very dangerous conditions for both humans and cats (although it is rare for cats to have high cholesterol because they metabolize fat so well, and they can’t digest cheese anyway), and should be considered important to avoid.
Remember, as with all things, moderation is key.
Should you feed your Cat Mac and Cheese?
You should absolutely not feed your cat mac and cheese! The macaroni is fine, but the cheese in it is extremely bad for your cat’s digestive system. It will lead to a happy cat for about 5 minutes, and then a lot of cleaning up diarrhea and vomit.
Even if your cat could digest it, it is high in sodium and fat and will create a sluggish, unhealthy cat if it were consumed too much. Mac and cheese is not a good food to feed your cat in any circumstance, so stay away from it.
Is Mac and Cheese OK for a Kitten?
Mac and cheese is also not recommended for kittens. You might think a kitten would have better luck eating mac and cheese due to its ability to digest dairy from drinking milk from its mother. However, you would, unfortunately, be wrong.
This is because yes, while kittens can digest dairy at an extremely early age, they can not eat solid food yet. As your kitten begins to wean, avoid feeding it dairy products.
By the time they can, their lactase enzymes are gone. This means there is no timeframe in which to feed your kitten cheese. You’re going to want to avoid feeding mac and cheese to your pet kitten as well.
How cats have evolved their diet
Cats have evolved from almost exclusively carnivorous animals, so the most healthy thing for them to be eating is actually meat.
This evolution path means that cats don’t have the lactase enzymes to break down milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
Is there better food options for cats than Mac and Cheese?
There are many better food options for cats than mac and cheese. Any food that is designed for cats is healthier for them than mac and cheese, and there are many foods that humans eat that cats can digest as well.
Remember, cats are natural-born carnivores, so they are good at digesting meat. This means feeding them meat, fish, and even eggs are fine.
They can also digest fruits and vegetables well, so these can be given to them as a balanced part of their diet as a way to provide vitamins, fiber, and other important health benefits.
So yes, there are foods that you eat that you can share with your cat (what about chips? click here). However, mac and cheese aren’t one of them. Poor Garfield… he probably shouldn’t eat that lasagna.