Can Cats Drink Milk

Should you give your cat milk?

Can Cats Drink Milk

Milk makes an ideal food for cats?While many people believe the myth that milk is good for cats, the truth is it’s really not the healthiest food for felines. The traditional image of a contented cat lapping from a bowl of milk is a misleading one. Just like humans, most cats are lactose intolerant – they don’t have the enzymes needed to digest the lactose in milk. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk. Our cats can end up with diarrhea or stomach cramp if they drink cow milk. This is because undigested lactose simply can’t pass very easily through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream and will probably stay in their intestines – and end up fermenting because of bacteria.

Note that not all cats are lactose intolerant and there’s no way to tell whether your cat is lactose intolerant or not – unless you give her some milk and see if it causes bloating, gas or diarrhea. Thus, to be on the safe side, always stay away from milk.

milks-good-for-cats

Are All Cats Lactose Intolerant?

The amount of lactose that can be tolerated will vary from cat to cat. Standard cow milk has much more lactose and casein than many dairy-loving kitties can digest. The amounts of lactase that the body of a kitten produces will decline after weaning. Thus, their bodies are less equipped to handle the lactose when they stop nursing and get older. However, some cats will continue to produce lactase but in a much lower amount and this is known as lactase persistence.

Like humans, some cats will tolerate milk without a problem. If your cat is not throwing up or having diarrhea, she’s probably okay with whole or skim milk or lactose-free milk.

What Milk Can Kittens Drink?

Kittens can generally digest milk until they’ve been weaned. And they will lose the lactase enzyme that digests lactose in milk around eight weeks of age. Note that all kittens need milk to survice. Prior to weaning process, their only source of nutrition is milk. However, cow milk isn’t the best option for a kitten. Instead of using milk, consider a mother’s milk replacer or kitten formula which can provide all the nutrients a kitten needs.

There are other varieties of milk. Goat milk for kittens is a little more salutary than cow’s milk, but the difference between them is negligible at best, according to Catster. A cup of goat’s milk has only one less gram of sugar in it than a cup of cow’s milk. Lactose-free milks may be safer for people who are sensitive to lactose, but that does not make them any easier for cats to digest. Note that many soy and almond milks still contain sugars to improve their flavour to humans. So it’s important to purchase milks with no flavour for your feline friend.

If you must offer your cats cow’s milk, proceed cautiously. Start with very small quantities to determine their tolerance for it, and offer it only occasionally.

Should Cats Drink Milk?

Milk should not be a substitute for water – milk contains calories, water doesn’t. Milk does not contain the essential nutrients cats need to grow. Too much milk may displace their appetites for meat-based diets, and contributing to nutritionally-deficient diseases and obesity problem.

Dr. Heinze, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine said that milk should be treated more like a very occasional high-calorie treat than an everyday food, according to Vet Street. Dr. Heinze also recommends that cats be fed no more than 20 to 30 calories a day from unbalanced sources.

Updated: December 7, 2017.

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