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Why cats don't need milk

March 20th 2018

Author: Sarah Butler

In many illustrated children’s books, cats are often seen contently lapping milk from a saucer. From these story books, it is easy to believe that milk is a staple of any cat’s diet. Contrary to common belief however, cats don’t need milk, nor should they be given it. In fact, most cats are lactose intolerant.

Of course, all kittens need milk to thrive, but the milk that comes from its mother is full of key enzymes that break down the sugars and lactose within it. Cow’s milk and many other varieties of milk do not feature these enzymes. Once a kitten stops drinking its mother’s milk, its levels of lactase can disappear, meaning the stomach may no longer be able to handle lactose. It’s beneficial to feed your kitten solid, veterinary-recommended cat food, rather than another form of milk.

What happens if I give my cat cow’s milk?

Milk is not toxic to cats, but it may cause extreme discomfort, cramps, diarrhoea, and gas – symptoms most cat owners want to avoid. Not all cats are lactose intolerant as not all kittens lose their lactase. But, even if your cat does not experience discomfort as a result of drinking milk, it may not be a good idea to include it in its diet. Although they may be happy to consume it, milk might upset the caloric balance and contribute to obesity.

Is there any milk my cat can drink?

There is a type of milk cats can drink. Pet milk is safe for your furry friend and is available for you to purchase. This milk has no lactose, and many brands feature additional nutrients for the health and wellbeing of your cat.

Some cat owners like the idea of giving milk as a treat for their cat as it appears to be something they enjoy; however it is important to note that well-fed adult cats do not need any form of milk. There are many other ways to treat your cat and it’s a good idea to choose treats that are veterinary-approved, or alternatively opt for kibble or even a fun toy.

Everyone wants the best for their feline friend, and while treats are perfectly acceptable to give in moderation, they should be an occasional delicacy and only a minimal part of your cats diet.