While many people believe the myth that milk is good for cats, the reality is it’s really not the healthiest beverage for felines. In fact, it can cause a series of ailments, from upset stomach to cramps and severe diarrhea in the large majority of cats.
While your kitten may seem perfectly content lapping up a bowl of milk — especially since it is, in many ways, her “comfort food” that is reminiscent of a mother’s milk– you shouldn’t make this part of your feline’s regular diet.
One of the main reasons milk isn’t recommended for adult cats is that many of them are lactose intolerant and have problems digesting it.
Why Are Cats Lactose-Intolerant?
Most cats lack the enzyme lactase which helps digest lactose. When undigested lactose makes its way through the cat’s digestive system, it takes in water from the intestines. Lactose simply can’t pass very easily through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.
In addition, cats are susceptible to gut bacteria that can cause painful gas and diarrhea.
What If My Cat Likes Milk and Has No Adverse Reaction?
If she’s not throwing up or having diarrhea, she’s probably okay with whole or skim milk. The other option is to give your cat lactose-free milk. Some experts advise that cream is better than regular milk, likely because cream has less lactose than whole or skim milk.
Recently, several new lactose-free milk substitutes for cats have been developed, such as CatSip or CatSure, which can be purchased online, in some large grocery stores and most pet supply stores.
If your cat enjoys milk, she may like these products too.
Is There Any Nutritional Value To Milk For Cats?
Milk does not contain the essential nutrients cats need to grow. Too much milk may displace their appetites for meat-based diets and cause nutritionally-deficient diseases.
What’s The Worst That Can Happen If I Give My Cat Milk Regularly?
If your cat drinks milk and suffers from regular bouts of diarrhea, the result could be fatal, especially to kittens, because it causes dehydration.
What Should My Cat Drink Instead of Milk?
Cats only need water to hydrate them on a regular basis. But don’t have your feline friend taking sips from the tap or the toilet. They need fresh water in a clean bowl.