Is Milk Safe to Give to My Cat?

Is Milk Safe to Give to My Cat?

Cats and milk—a match for the ages, right? Think again! You might be surprised to find out that milk doesn’t usually agree with our feline friends. Below, your Sayville, NY veterinarian tells you the truth about cats, milk, and dairy:

Why Can’t Cats Have Milk?

The majority of adult cats are actually lactose-intolerant, just like some humans can be. This means that the cat doesn’t possess enough lactase in the gut to digest lactose, the primary enzyme of milk and other dairy foods. In essence, cats can’t digest milk very well!

What Happens If a Cat Drinks Too Much Milk?

A small amount of milk isn’t likely to cause any problems in your cat, but overdoing it is not recommended. If a cat drinks too much milk, they’ll experience an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting! It’s simply not worth the risk of a mess. If you must give your cat real milk, keep the portion size extremely small.

Don’t Kittens Need Milk?

You may wonder about newborn kittens who drink their mother’s milk. This is true; kitten-hood is the only time in a cat’s life that milk is a nutritional requirement. During this stage, a kitten needs the proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients found in the mother’s milk—or a commercial milk substitute if the mother isn’t available—to grow healthy and strong. As a cat ages, though, they typically start to produce less and less lactase in the gut. This means that your cat gradually becomes more lactose-intolerant as they age. By the time a kitten is fully grown, it’s likely that milk won’t agree with them very well at all.

Is Any Dairy Safe?

Milk is a no-go for our feline friends, but what about other dairy products? Since other dairy foods like cheese or yogurt contain less lactose than pure milk, they’re a bit safer to feed to cats. However, they’re not nutritionally necessary in the least. If you must feed Fluffy these foods, keep the portions tiny.

A better option for your cat is a relatively new product on the market: cat milk. Cat milk is a synthesized milk product that has had the lactose removed, so it’s perfectly safe for cats. It’s a great way to give your cat the taste she loves without the risk!

For more information on your animal companion’s dietary and nutritional needs, call your Sayville, NY animal hospital.

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