Not everything you see on TV, movies, and the internet is accurate. That cats enjoy milk is a popular inaccuracy we’re all familiar with. Generally speaking, milk from other animals isn’t recommended for cats.
If you’re trying to figure out whether milk is bad for cats, or whether cats are lactose intolerant, it can be difficult to get a clear answer. Even a quick Google search just confuses the issue.
So read on as we dive into the topic and set straight how milk affects cats.
Cats and Milk
Although media has cats and milk as a perfect pair, vets don’t advise that you add it to their diet.
Milk has a carbohydrate called lactose which is not good for cats that have been weaned. Why? It’s because adult cats do not produce enough lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in lactose.
Kittens can be given specially-formulated milk that contains small amounts of lactose because, at a young age, their bodies still create the lactase enzyme. Milk contains many nutrients needed for a growing cat but these only supplement the kibble or canned food provided.
Here is a list of specially-formulated milk for cats that you can purchase both online and at your local pet store:
- Kitten Milk Replacer (KMR)
- PetLac Milk Powder for Kittens
- Breeder’s Edge Foster Care Feline Powdered Milk
- Nutri-Vet Milk Replacement for Kittens
- Whiskas Catmilk
Prior to giving these to your cat, you should consult a vet to see how much you should give your pet and which brands the doctor recommends. Also, take note of the side effects of the milk you are giving as it may cause an allergic reaction that needs immediate attention.
Kinds of Milk
Coconut Milk – Although a beneficial drink for humans, unfortunately, coconut milk is a harmful liquid for our kitties. Some cats are sensitive to nuts and this comes from one. It can trigger allergic reactions which can lead to other serious illnesses.
Soy Milk – This type does not have any lactose in it which would seem to make it a good alternative to cow’s milk. However, soy milk is usually mixed with artificial sweeteners that can cause diabetes, tooth decay, and obesity in cats.
Here are soy alternatives which do not have sweeteners or lactose:
- Silk Soy Original
- Silk Organic and Unsweetened
- Kikkoman’s Pearl Organic
Almond Milk – Although almonds are not a type of nut that can trigger your pet’s allergies, almond milk still has lactose which kitties cannot really digest in large amounts. Can cats drink almond milk? Yes, but only in small amounts. If you give too much, it can cause an upset stomach which can also lead to diarrhea.
Cow Milk – cats enjoy the sweetness and thickness of the cream that rises above the milk that has been collected or processed from cows. Though they find it delicious, it is not healthy for them at all as there is too much lactose in this drink. They have difficulty digesting the sugar and end up with an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Rice Milk – cats are obligate carnivores and rice or grain products are of no use to them. This type of milk also has a lot of additives that can lead to bad health complications so we suggest that you avoid giving this to your cat.
Goat Milk – this type of milk is the usual alternative for kittens if you can’t afford to purchase Kitten Milk Replacers (KMRs). However, you should feed them goat milk only in small portions as they’ll be getting a lot of lactose if they drink this in large amounts.
Lactose-free Milk – judging by the name, some pet parents believe that this could be a great alternative to milk. Many cat owners give a saucer of this as a treat from time to time. But should cats drink lactose-free milk? The answer is both yes and no.
With lactose-free milk, there’s no need for your fur baby to produce as many lactase enzymes as it can because there’s no lactose to break down. However, there are other additives in this type of milk that can cause sickness in cats.
Here are some lactose-free brands:
- Dairy Pure Lactose-Free Milk
- Dairy Farmers Lactose-Free Full Cream Milk
- Great Value Lactose-Free
What to do if Cat Gets Upset Stomach from Drinking Milk?
Immediate action should be taken if your cat has an upset stomach after drinking milk. The first thing that you should do is have your cat drink some water; then, head to the vet. Water can help ease its stomach and can also help release the toxins caused by undigested milk.
Cats that are lactose-intolerant can suffer from an upset stomach as soon as they finish the milk and their condition can worsen over time.
Illnesses like diarrhea and constipation can arise.
Here are some home remedies that can help ease your cat’s stomach ache:
- Take the milk away.
- Put your cat on a fasting program for 12 hours to avoid further complications.
- Give it as much water as possible.
- Start a bland diet for your cat.
These tips can work for any kind of stomach issue, but we highly recommend that you also make a trip to the vet when this problem arises.
After reading through this article, you might be tempted to give your cat a sample of lactose-free or almond milk. If you do, we urge you to do it in moderation. Once or twice a week is enough.
Our best recommendation is that you refrain from giving your adult cats any kind of milk as a part of their diet. They don’t need the milk’s nutritional content and you’re exposing them to additional risk. To make sure that your feline has a complete and balanced diet, check the type of food you serve to them and always keep your pet hydrated.