The Truth About Cats, Milk, and Dairy

As soon as you think of cats and milk, you probably picture a cat lapping up milk from a saucer on the floor, happy as can be. What you don’t picture is the not-so-happy aftermath! The truth is, the vast majority of cats shouldn’t be fed milk at all. Learn more below from a Greenfield vet.

Why Can’t Cats Have Milk?

The vast percentage of cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t possess the ability to digest lactose, the primary enzyme found in milk. Not being able to digest the milk will result in vomiting and diarrhea in most cats, or an upset stomach at the very least.

Be advised—just because milk isn’t good for cats doesn’t mean that your feline friend won’t happily lap it up if it’s presented! Most cats will love milk, but it’s best to keep it to the tiniest spoonful, only very occasionally.

Don’t Cats Drink Their Mother’s Milk?

They do, and that is the only time in a cat’s life that he will require milk. During the newborn stage, a cat receives all of his fats, proteins, and other nutrients from the mother’s milk. After he’s weaned, though, an adult cat will receive all necessary nutrition from regular cat food! Your veterinarian can tell you more about the developmental stages of your cat, and what he needs to be eating throughout life to remain healthy.

What About Other Dairy?

If not milk, what about other dairy products? If you keep the portions tiny and only use it as a very occasional reward, dairy like cheese and yogurt shouldn’t upset your cat’s stomach. The reason is that these products contain less lactose than milk, so they’re easier to digest. Remember, though, only offer a tiny snippet of cheese or a little dab of yogurt. Overdo it, and you’ll likely have a mess to clean up!

Ask your Greenfield veterinarian for more information on cats and how they respond to milk. He or she can give you a list of human foods to always avoid, as well as offer suggestions on other food that may be okay as an occasional indulgence.

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