Cats and milk seem to go together like two peas in a pod. You might be surprised to learn that the two don’t actually mix very well! Learn more here from your Roanoke, VA veterinarian.
It turns out that most adult cats are actually lactose-intolerant, just like many humans are. This means that they don’t possess enough of the enzyme lactase in their digestive systems to properly digest lactose, the main enzyme found in milk. While a small bit of milk might not do your cat any real harm, too much isn’t a good idea. It’s likely that a cat will experience an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea if they drink too much milk!
You might be wondering about kittens, who do indeed require their mother’s milk—or a synthetic substitute if the mother’s milk isn’t available—in the early stages of life. During this time, milk is necessary for proper growth, but it won’t remain so as a cat grows older. Typically, a cat starts producing less and less lactase as they age, becoming entirely lactose-intolerant by the time they’re a full-grown adult.
If you’re raising a kitten, they may need to be bottle-fed with the mother’s milk or a commercial milk substitute. Ask your veterinarian for help, and also be sure to ask about transitioning your kitten from milk to wet food.
Other dairy foods like cheese and yogurt don’t contain as much lactose as pure milk does, so they might be a bit safer for your cat to eat. Keep in mind, though, that no dairy is a nutritional necessity for your cat and that too much of any foreign food can cause problems. If you insist on having your cat try cheese, yogurt, or other forms of dairy, keep the portion size extremely small.
A better idea for your cat is a “cat milk,” a relatively new product that can be found in many pet supply shops. It’s a special milk made just for cats that has had all lactose removed, meaning that it’s completely safe for your feline friend.
Your cat only needs one liquid to drink: fresh water. Provide a full dish at all times!
To learn more about your cat’s nutritional needs, call your Roanoke, VA vet clinic today.