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Should Cats Really Have Milk?

September 1, 2014

You’re probably already picturing a cat happily lapping up milk from a saucer on the kitchen floor. You might not realize that cats shouldn’t really have milk at all! Here, a Niagara Falls vet answers your questions on the topic.

Why Shouldn’t Cats Have Milk?

Most cats are lactose intolerant, just like some humans can be. This means that the cat doesn’t possess the ability to digest lactose, an enzyme found in milk. A cat that drinks milk is likely to experience diarrhea, vomiting, or an upset stomach at the very least. Unless you’d like to clean up a mess, it’s safest to avoid giving your cat any milk at all.

Kittens Drink Their Mother’s Milk, Though…

Yes, kittens do drink their mother’s milk in the first few weeks of life. This is the only time in a cat’s life, though, that she’ll need milk! As a cat gets older, their system produces less and less lactase, meaning they’re becoming more and more lactose-intolerant.

As an adult, a cat should receive all the required nutrients from her regular cat food. Check with your vet to make sure your cat’s diet is providing her with the proper vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats, proteins, and acids.

Are There Milk Substitutes?

Yes, there are various “cat milk” substitutes on the market today. These products have the offending agents in milk removed, so a cat can safely drink it. Although these products aren’t truly milk, they might work well to give your cat the occasional “milk” treat. Ask your vet for more information.

What About Other Dairy Products?

You may wonder if other dairy is okay to give your cat. Cheese and yogurt are two examples of dairy foods that are somewhat safer to give felines, because they both contain much less lactose than regular milk. If you keep the portions very small, your cat should be okay. Try slipping her a snippet of cheese or a little dab of yogurt, but reserve it only for the occasional treat.

Call your Niagara Falls vet’s office for more information on dairy and your feline friend.