It’s easy to conjure up an image of a cat happily lapping up milk from a saucer on the floor. Cats and milk just seem to go together! You might be surprised to find out that this isn’t really true. It turns out that cats and dairy don’t make a good pair. Your Crown Point, IN veterinarian elaborates below:
Why Can’t Cats Drink Milk?
To be clear, cats can drink milk—and they probably will if it’s offered to them. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, though.
Most adult cats are actually lactose-intolerant, just like many humans are. This means that the cat doesn’t possess enough lactase in the gut to digest lactose, the main enzyme found in milk and other dairy foods. To put it simply, milk just doesn’t agree with your adult cat!
What if a Cat Drinks Too Much Milk?
If your cat drinks a tiny helping of milk, she will probably be perfectly fine. If it’s overdone, though, you could have a mess on your hands. A cat that drinks too much milk will have an upset stomach at the very least, and more likely will experience vomiting or diarrhea. It’s unlikely that drinking milk will cause your cat any serious or long-term health effects, but it’s definitely not worth the risk—or the mess!
Don’t Kittens Need Milk?
You might be wondering about kittens, who nurse on their mother’s milk in the earliest stages of life. This is true—kittens do require the essential nutrition found in the mother’s milk (or a commercial substitute milk if the mother’s isn’t available) in order to grow up healthy and strong. As a kitten ages, though, they typically start producing less and less lactase in their digestive system. By the time a cat is fully grown, they’re probably entirely lactose-intolerant!
Is Any Dairy Safe for Cats?
Other types of dairy foods, like cheese and yogurt, don’t contain as much lactose as milk. This means that they’re a little safer for cats. Still, they’re not nutritionally necessary, so if you must give some to your cat make sure the portion size is very small. A “cat milk” product, available at pet stores and some retail outlets, is a better idea. This is a milk made specifically for cats with the lactose removed.
Do you have questions about your cat’s nutrition and diet? Call your Crown Point, IN vet.