Can Cats Drink Milk? 

June 23, 2022 by The Spot Pack
a cat drinking from a bowl of milk

Just like humans, cats drink their mother’s milk after birth. During this stage of a mammal’s life, they have the enzymes needed to break lactose down into single sugars that are easier on the digestive system.

Kittens nurse from their mothers for weeks until their mother decides it’s time to gradually wean them off it. During this stage, milk is vital for their health, as it gives them the nutrients they need to grow. When the kittens are around eight to 10 weeks old, they begin to eat solid food. When they make this transition from milk to solid foods, many lose the ability to process milk. This is because solid food takes the place of the sugar found in milk; kittens no longer need the ability to digest it.
Lactose is a sugar or carbohydrate that needs to be broken down into single sugars in order to be digested properly. Lactose intolerant cats are unable to do this; therefore, they can get an upset stomach when they consume it. However, lactose intolerance levels vary from cat to cat (just like with humans) and some can digest milk sugar into adulthood.

We see kittens drinking milk all the time. Many assume after they grow into adult cats they can continue this habit without any issues. However, the reality of feeding milk to your cat may come as a surprise – it’s not as healthy for them as you may think!

 Is milk healthy for cats?

It’s a popular myth that cats need to drink milk to be healthy. In addition, most people assume the correct kind of milk to feed them is cow’s milk, the type we drink most often. However, this isn’t the case. Your cat certainly doesn’t need milk to be healthy. In fact, most cats are lactose intolerant; cow’s milk can do more harm than good for them. Milk can cause upset tummies, cramps, and severe diarrhea for your cat.
Cow’s milk won’t supply your cat with all the essential nutrients he or she needs and should definitely not be used to replace a balanced meal. Whole, skim, and two percent cow’s milk can also add too much fat to your cat’s diet, promoting weight gain and causing upset stomachs.

There are specially formulated cat milk products out there. These are usually much more suitable for cats, but they still aren’t necessary for their diets. Typically, they are fattening and should only be fed to your cat in moderation. Overall, normal cat food is really the only thing you need to be feeding your cat for them to maintain their optimal health levels.

 What can cats drink instead of milk?

The healthiest drink to give your cat is water. For the most part, that’s all they should drink. However, it’s okay to add a bit of tuna juice or bone broth to their regular water to act as a treat. Cats don’t always drink enough water and can make themselves dehydrated. This trick can be especially helpful when you think your cat needs more water. Another thing you can do to keep your cat hydrated is to add wet food to their diet. Adding wet food can contribute to your cat’s daily total water intake. Lastly, cats often prefer to drink water when it’s moving rather than when it is stagnant in a bowl. If you’re worried your cat isn’t drinking enough, consider buying a cat fountain! This may encourage him or her to drink more.

Besides milk, the drinks cats should definitely avoid are alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks. Alcohol can cause the same health issues it can cause for humans. Your cat is small, so even a little bit can harm him or her!
Make sure to keep any open alcohol away from your cat in case they get curious. In a similar vein, dogs and cats are more sensitive to caffeine than we are. Cats are unlikely to be interested in sweet-smelling energy drinks, but a creamy coffee might pique their interest. Lastly, sugary drinks are not good for cats. In fact, they are unable to taste sweet things, so they won’t even enjoy sugary drinks the way we do! Cats aren’t good at processing carbohydrates and often turn them to fat during digestion; therefore, sugary drinks can lead to obesity and even diabetes.

 Can I give my cat milk in a safe way?

The easiest way to feed your pet milk is to give him or her a very, very small amount. There are cat foods available that include a touch of milk so that your pet can enjoy the creaminess of the milk they crave without getting the stomachache they dislike.

Another option is KMR milk. KMR is a specially formulated milk created in a laboratory. This milk does not contain lactose but does contain all the good nutrients found in a cat mother’s milk. KMR will satisfy your feline friend’s craving for milk without making them feel sick – it’s the perfect solution!

It’s important to know that cats are not allergic to dairy products; they are simply lactose intolerant. This means that it will take longer for lactose to be digested and may cause gastrointestinal issues. These issues can include vomiting, diarrhea, or just feeling lousy for a few hours. After the lactose is digested, the bad reaction to it will disappear and your cat will feel good as new.

All in all, feeding dairy to your cat likely won’t cause a severe reaction or health issues. You don’t need to worry if your cat got into your dairy products.

 Do adult cats crave milk?

Your cat is a carnivore and will be attracted to animal fats. They are drawn to things like yogurt and milk because they can sense the fats and protein found in these dairy products. In addition, cats associate certain scents and flavors with positive memories. It’s possible that the smell of milk reminds them of being a kitten in the warm care of their mother. For them, milk might feel like comfort food!

Overall, cats should just drink water. Adding a little tuna juice or bone broth to their water can add more variety and act as a nice treat. A little variety can help keep your cat hydrated, which is sometimes a struggle for them. If your cat really seems to love milk, you can try KMR milk or a form of milk that has lactose removed. As with everything, moderation is key. Don’t get too carried away with special drinks for your cat as too much of anything can be harmful for them!

 

Sources:

 

https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/nutrition-feeding/is-milk-good-for-cats

https://www.thesprucepets.com/can-cats-have-milk-552036

https://www.pdsa.org.uk/what-we-do/blog/vet-qa-can-cats-drink-milk

https://www.purina.com/articles/cat/nutrition/can-cats-drink-milk

https://betterwithcats.net/what-can-cats-drink-besides-water/

https://cvillecatcare.com/veterinary-topics/why-do-cats-love-all-dairy-products/

 

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