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Can Cats Eat Mac and Cheese? Vet Approved Facts & Nutrition Tips

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

mac and cheese

Vet approved

Dr. Chyrle Bonk Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Chyrle Bonk

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Mac and cheese is a favorite food of many kids, who may also enjoy sneaking treats to their cat. Of course, not every human food is safe for pets, but is mac and cheese one of them? While plain mac and cheese usually isn’t toxic for cats, it’s not healthy for them either, and shouldn’t eat it regularly.

In this article, we’ll explain why eating mac and cheese frequently isn’t good for your cat. We’ll also inform you about some potentially toxic ingredients in homemade mac and cheese recipes. Finally, you’ll learn about healthier human foods to offer your cat as a snack instead.

The Trouble with Mac and Cheese

You can’t blame your cat for wanting to sneak a taste of the cheesy, gooey goodness that is a warm bowl of mac and cheese. Unfortunately, most mac and cheese recipes are full of butter, milk, cream, and cheese. These ingredients include a lot of calories, fat, and salt.

Foods high in salt and fat are unhealthy for cats, just like they are for people. Eating too much mac and cheese could cause your cat to gain weight, putting them at higher risk of several medical conditions and shortening their expected lifespan.

In addition, most adult cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t have the digestive enzymes they need to break down lactose, which is the primary sugar found in dairy products. Eating mac and cheese, which is full of dairy products, could upset their stomach leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and gas.

bowl of mac and cheese
Image Credit: gowithstock, Shutterstock

Potential Toxic Ingredients in Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese, especially homemade recipes, may contain toxic ingredients that could be dangerous for your cat. The most common is any member of the onion family, including shallots, chives, or garlic. All these vegetables, including the dried or powdered versions, are toxic to cats in high amounts.

Onions and garlic can cause digestive signs, including vomiting and diarrhea. They can also break down your cat’s red blood cells, leading to potentially life-threatening anemia. Never allow your cat to eat even an occasional bite of mac and cheese with onions, garlic, or chives.

Better Treat Options for Your Cat

If you want to feed your cat any treats, including human food, limit them to no more than 10% of your cat’s daily calories. The other 90% should come from nutritionally balanced cat food. Treats are often tastier than cat food, so you don’t want your kitty ignoring their nutritious diet because they’re hoping to get more snacks.

While you don’t have to feed your cat treats, they can be helpful for training, as a distraction at the vet, and for bonding with your pet.

Instead of a fatty food like mac and cheese, consider one of these healthier human foods:

Remember, even safe human foods could upset your cat’s stomach. Watch for any signs of tummy trouble if you serve any of these snacks. Check with your vet before introducing new food to your cat’s diet, especially if the kitty has chronic medical issues.

hard boiled quail egg halves on wooden board
Image Credit: Ildi Papp, Shutterstock


While the occasional bite of mac and cheese may be okay for some cats, they shouldn’t eat the fatty food, especially if it contains toxic ingredients. If your cat does sneak a bite or more of mac and cheese, monitor for signs of digestive issues like vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. See your vet if you notice these, especially if they’re severe or last for longer than 24-48 hours. You can offer healthier human foods if you can’t resist sharing a snack with your feline friend.

Featured Image Credit: Igor Dutina, Shutterstock

Elizabeth Gray

Authored by

Elizabeth Gray is a lifelong lover of all creatures great and small. She got her first cat at 5 years old and at 14, she started working for her local veterinarian. Elizabeth spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally–she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa ...Read more

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