We all have experienced watching cats drink milk in our lifetime, but have you ever wondered if they are supposed to drink milk…?
Milk is an excellent source of nutrients like Calcium, Vitamin-D, Proteins, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin A, which are all essential nutrients that will keep a cat healthy. You must have heard about a myth that says “Milk is good for cats…”
Let us try to shed some light on it…
Can Cats Drink Milk?
A short answer would be yes, kittens have enzyme lactase in their stomach that digests the lactose from milk, it is similar to what humans have. The only difference is that humans keep producing this enzyme even after they are weaned, while cats stop producing this enzyme.
Therefore, if a cat drinks any kind of milk after she has grown about 8 or 10 weeks old, she may get an upset stomach. Although adult cats can drink lactose-free milk. It is also recommended that it should contain low fats and a high amount of Taurine.
What Will Happen if Cats Drink Milk?
When a cat is younger and not more than 8 weeks, her stomach produces the enzyme to digest the millk. Her body stops secreting the lactase as she gets older. This is the reason cats become lactose intolerant. However, some cats continue to product lactase even after they grow up.
When a lactose-intolerant cat would drink milk, due to the absence of enzymes, the lactose will not be digested and the bacteria in the intestine would try to break the lactose which will release gases.
These gases in turn can cause irritation in the stomach, and stomach cramps & diarrhea can be expected.
Cats who are lactose tolerant would not have any kind of problems drinking milk. It would be like nature’s gift for them.
Health Effects on Different Types of Milk
There are various kinds of milk in the market today, Sometimes when we have lots of options in our hands, we get confused about what kind of milk would be healthy for our cats…? I went through a similar situation some time ago and here is what I found:
There are 2 different categories of milk, Animal-based and Plant-based.
Cow milk can make cats really sick as they contain high levels of fats and lactose, other than that they do contain high levels of natural sugar which will be bad for cats. If a lactose-intolerant cat drinks cow milk, she might get ill, diarrhea or vomiting is to be expected in some cases.
It would be better to not give them cow’s milk.
Goat milk is good for kittens and adult cats who are lactose tolerant. It contains prebiotics, which help in regulating and combating the bacteria in the stomach that are not good for cats.
Also, it contains a molecule called oligosaccharide, which is a molecule that contains very less monosaccharides,
In short, it contains less amount of glucose than normal cow milk, which would be really good for cats as they are considered to be a factor in boosting their immunity.
It can be given to cats as an alternative, as supplements in cat food are enough to cover all the nutrition requirements. One benefit of almond milk is it contains vitamin E which is good for cat coat and skin. However, sometimes cats crave milk, you can give almond milk to keep them happy.
Oat milk is not dangerous for cats until and unless they are not sweetened. However, it is not recommended to give them oat milk as it can cause diarrhea in some cases.
If you make plain oat milk at home and feed your cat, it would be completely safe until you make it sugarless.
Coconut milk is harmful to your cats as they contain a heavy amount of oils and fats. Your cat would not be able to digest these and it is certain that your cat will suffer from diarrhea and stomach issues, although the effects would be temporary, it is not recommended to give your cat coconut oil.
Soy milk lacks lactose and amino acids and they might not be harmful to cats. If taken in mild quantities, it will not affect your cat, however, if soy milk is taken in abnormal quantities, an upset stomach and diarrhea can be expected.
Different kinds of reactions a cat will suffer from if they consume milk
- Gastrointestinal Issues / upset stomach
If you notice any other symptoms than the ones mentioned above after your cat drinks milk, It would be a good idea to consult a veterinarian.
How Can I Give My Cat Milk Safely?
You can give milk to your cat in a very limited quantity along with their diet. Special cat milk or almond milk is safe for your cat to drink. It is lactose-free and should not contain sugar. Try to avoid coconut milk as there is high content of fats and oils in it. I would prefer to be safe than sorry and give them special cat milk.
Can Cats Drink Goat Milk?
Yes, cats can drink goat milk. When compared to cow’s milk, it is easier to digest and is proven that it contains many health benefits. Some doctors even give goat milk to cats with inflammatory bowel disease. However, it does not mean that every cat that suffers from inflammatory bowel disease should be given goat milk.
When Do Kittens Stop Drinking Milk?
Kittens stop drinking milk as soon as they are weaned and start eating solid food. Normally cats stop drinking milk when they are about 8 to 10 weeks old.
Why Do Adult Cats Crave Milk?
Cats adore milk! They associate the smell and taste with their memories, hence it gives comfort to them. However, another reason would be that there is high-fat content in milk and they are attracted to the smell and taste of it.
Is it dangerous for cats to drink milk?
No, it is not at all dangerous or lethal to cats. When a cat drinks milk, she could have diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, or vomiting, and that would be it! Furthermore, if a cat is fed milk regularly regardless of the symptoms, it can be fatal…!!
Now that you are aware of the consequences of milk inside your cat’s stomach, even though your cat is giving you pretty eyes or begging for it, you’d not remain in the dilemma of whether to keep your cat happy or her cravings…!!
- Nursing Mothers and Their Kittens — austintexas.gov
- Do Cats Drink Milk? — De Facto Cat
- Do not drink unpasteurized goat’s milk and do not feed this to cats as well — K-State News