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Do You Give Your Cat Milk?

August 15, 2019
It’s easy to picture a cat lapping up milk from a saucer—it just seems right! You might be surprised to learn that cats and milk aren’t the best pairing. If you give your cat milk, you might want to reconsider. Allow your Pickerington, OH veterinarian to elaborate below.

Why Can’t Cats Drink Milk?

It turns out that most adult cats are lactose-intolerant, meaning that they can’t digest milk properly. They don’t possess enough lactase in the gut to digest lactose, the main enzyme of milk. Many humans suffer from this same condition! The exception to this rule involves kittens, who do need their mother’s milk—or a substitute milk product if the mother’s milk isn’t available—during early life. At that stage, it helps kittens grow and develop properly. However, the older a kitten gets, the less lactase they tend to produce in the digestive system. By the time most kittens are grown, milk won’t agree with them.

What Happens if a Cat Drinks Too Much Milk?

Although your cat will probably be able to drink a small amount of milk, and may do so happily, it’s easy to overdo it. When a cat drinks too much milk, they’ll experience an upset stomach at the very least, and most likely vomiting or diarrhea. That leaves you with a mess on your floors or carpets and an unhappy feline! Giving your cat milk simply isn’t worth the trouble.

Is Other Dairy Okay?

Other forms of dairy, like cheese or yogurt, don’t contain the levels of lactose that milk does. Still, they’re not nutritionally necessary for Fluffy at all, and too much of any foreign food can make a pet sick. If your cat takes a liking to other dairy foods like these, keep the portion size tiny. Want to give your cat the taste of milk that she loves without the negative side effects? You’re in luck. Today, there are a variety of “cat milks” on the market, which are milk products that have had all lactose removed. These products are designed specifically for our feline friends, so they’re perfectly safe. Remember: there’s only one kind of liquid that your cat really needs. Provide your feline friend with a large dish of cool, fresh water to drink from at all times. Would you like to learn more about your cat’s nutrition and dietary needs? Call your Pickerington, OH animal hospital.