There is a debate about whether or not you should give cats milk and if it is good for them. Some people think milk is a healthy treat for cats. They think it gives cats important nutrients. But others say milk isn't good for cats and can actually make them sick.
So what's really true? To decide if milk is okay for your cat, you have to learn more.
Should you give cats milk?
The cat and milk myths may be started with children's books and all the cartoons normalize the idea of a cat drinking milk happily! But veterans had a different thought and had bad news telling every cat owner that milk has a huge bad effect on a cat's digestive system.
We are going to divide each question related to the topic to keep our cats safe.
Is Milk Actually Good for a Cat?
Wondering if should you give cats milk, is like wondering if you should give your children milk when they have a dairy allergy.
Certain cats cannot break down lactose, a type of sugar present in dairy.
Can Cats Digest Milk?
Cats' bodies only produce enough lactase, the enzyme responsible for lactose digestion, during their infancy and early years of life when they feed on their mother's milk.
As they mature, the production of lactase decreases, leading to possible digestive issues if they consume milk. Therefore, it's crucial to be cautious when giving cats milk, as their bodies may struggle to digest lactose which results in complications.
Can Kittens Drink Milk?
Yes, kittens can drink milk, but only their mothers’ milk. During their early life stages, kittens still can digest lactose, while they grow, the ability decreases, so it’s recommended to provide them food diet that meets their needs.
And for the record, cow's milk is not recommended because it does not provide the essential nutrients they need and can lead to health problems.
So should you feed cats milk and why do they crave it? Let’s find the answer.
Why Do Adult Cats Crave Milk?
There’re a couple of reasons that make adult cats crave milk:
- It has a good taste and smell.
- Milk has high fat content which is satisfying for cats.
- Milk reminds them of nursing from their mother as kittens.
However, milk is tasty, but you should not give cats milk even if they crave it because most adult cats are lactose intolerant and cannot properly digest it.
If you believe that milk has benefits for your cat, let’s find some answers to the following questions:
How Can I Give My Cat Milk Safely?
Sometimes a cat owner is forced to feed cat milk, if you do so, you need to consider 4 concerns so you minimize the risks:
- Lactose-free milk only is best for cats because it is made with lactase which helps cats digest lactose.
- Start by adding a small amount and If your cat does not show any symptoms, gradually increase the amount.
- Observe any signs of digestive problems after giving them milk. Such as the cat starts vomiting, has diarrhea, or is gassy, so you need to stop feeding them milk immediately and call your veterinarian.
- Do not give your cat milk as a main meal. Cats need a balanced diet that includes wet or dry food, not just milk.
If your cat has any suspicious health conditions, talk to your veterinarian before considering feeding them milk.
Read more Why do cats constantly meow?
Can I Pour Milk On My Cat’s Favorite Food?
No, it is not recommended to pour milk on your cat's favorite food. Because again most cats are lactose intolerant.
Let’s make it clear: milk is not a necessary ingredient of a cat's diet and they get all the nutrients they need from their food. And to make your cat’s meals more delicious, add a small amount of water, broth, or tuna juice and you can try mixing different types of wet food.
What type of milk can cats drink?
That's a popular question! Cats can drink a few different types of milk, and we will go through the best and bad types because you need to be aware of some can cause digestive problems in cats, while others may not provide any nutritional benefits.
Can I give my cat milk made for them?
Yes, you can give your cat milk made for them. Milk made for cats is typically lactose-free and fortified with vitamins and minerals, making it a good source of nutrition for cats.
Some pet brands sell lactose-reduced milk (98%) formulated for cats with dairy cravings.
Is coconut milk good for cats?
No, coconut milk is not good for cats because it contains fat and calories which can cause gastrointestinal upset for your cat.
Can cats drink goat milk?
Probably! Goat's milk is actually a bit easier for cats to digest compared to cow's milk.
Here's why goat's milk is better for cats:
- Has smaller fat molecules than cow's milk. This means cats can break the fat down a little easier.
- Goat's milk has less lactose sugar. Since many cats can't digest lactose well, less lactose makes goat's milk a better option.
So goat's milk is a better choice as an occasional treat for your cat compared to cow's milk.
Can cats drink soy milk?
No, soy milk is not a good choice for cats beacuse:
- Soy milk is not natural food for cats because they’re meat-eaters and soy milk does not give them the nutrients they need to be healthy.
- Soy milk lacks important things like certain vitamins, fatty acids, and amino acids that cats require. Cats can only get these from meat-based foods like cat food.
- Soy milk contains things called anti-nutrients that make it hard for cats to absorb important nutrients from their real cat food or wet food.
What About Non-Dairy Milk for Cats?
Should you give your cat non-dairy milk like almond or soy milk? Probably not. Here's why:
- Cats' bodies are made to get nutrients from meat - not from plant milk.
- Non-dairy kinds of milk will not give cats the nutrients they need from protein and certain vitamins found in meat.
- Almond milk and soy milk have fat and calories but do not provide real health benefits for cats. This can lead to weight gain.
- Cats get all the moisture they need from wet cat food and water - not from plant milks.
Did you give your cat milk before? Or you may have been forced to give it milk sometimes?
So what are the symptoms and if you had to in the future how often, let’s see.
What are the Symptoms of Cats Suffering From Milk Consumption?
Most adult cats can't properly digest milk. Here are some symptoms to watch for that mean your cat's tummy is having issues from milk:
- Diarrhea - Runny, watery stools are a common sign your cat's system can't handle the lactose in milk.
- Liquid poops - Another indicator that milk is upsetting your cat's digestive system.
- Hurt tummy - Your cat may act restless, uncomfortable and pace a lot. They can have stomach cramps and pain.
- Gassy - Your cat may pass gas more often or have loud tummy gurgles after drinking milk. The milk is fermenting in their system.
- Getting sick - Your cat may throw up soon after drinking milk. This shows their bodies are trying to get rid of the milk.
Finally, here’re some alternatives for milk.
What Can Cats Drink Instead of Milk?
Your cat needs to stay hydrated by drinking liquids but milk is not a good choice. Instead, give your cat:
- Clean water - Fresh water is the best drink for your cat. Provide water bowls filled with fresh water every day. This helps keep your cat hydrated.
- Wet cat food - Feeding wet cat food is a great way for your cat to get the moisture they need. Wet food also helps clean their teeth!
- Bone broth - Give your cat a small amount of low-sodium chicken or beef bone broth as a treat. This provides healthy liquids.
- Tuna juice - Drain the water from canned tuna and give the juice to your cat. This will add variety to their liquid intake.
In conclusion, there’s no one-fit-all answer to your question of whether or not should you give cats milk. Because both potential benefits and risks associated with giving milk to cats, therefore, the decision is up to you whether or not to give your cat milk
Is it OK to give cats milk everyday?
No, it’s not recommended to give them milk on a daily basis because many cats are lactose intolerant and can't properly digest it, which can cause digestive upset and other health issues.
When should I stop giving my cat milk?
You should stop giving your cat milk when they reach adulthood, which is typically around one year of age.
Is warm milk good for cats?
While warm milk might sound like a cozy treat, it's not actually necessary or recommended for cats and can have negative effects on their health.