Can Cats Drink Cow Milk? There are many benefits to feeding your cat-cow milk, but some concerns about drinking the milk.
This article will cover common myths about cats drinking cow milk and how much they should drink.
Cats and Dairy Fact 1: Lactose Intolerance Is the Norm in cats
The ability to digest milk may have disappeared from the feline genome thousands of years ago to keep wild felines away from humans’ domesticated herd animals.
After all, lions or tigers that stumbled upon a human encampment and started chowing down on fresh cow’s milk would’ve had an advantage over those who couldn’t drink it because their bodies didn’t produce enough lactase (the enzyme responsible for breaking down dairy products).
Cats continue absorbing calcium through their intestines throughout life, so many veterinarians recommend feeding them foods high in this mineral—especially if they’re not getting any other sources of calcium like raw meaty bones.
Cats and Dairy Fact 2: Many Cats Can Drink Milk
Most cats are lactose intolerant, lacking the digestive enzyme needed to digest dairy products properly.
But some felines can tolerate milk just fine, says veterinarian Ronald Wynn of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Some cats—particularly those with European roots—possess a genetic mutation that allows them to produce lactase as adults.
“So even though many adult cats cannot drink milk or eat ice cream without getting sick,” Wynn tells WebMD, “many also have no trouble drinking cow’s milk.”
If you want your cat to drink cow’s milk and there is absolutely no reason you would offer it in minimal amounts at first, one teaspoon per day is plenty for most people.
And if you’re going to give your cat any dairy product at all, be sure it’s plain yogurt or cheese, not whipped topping or cookies! Also, not that soy.”
Cats and Dairy Fact 3: Yogurt and Cheese May Be Easier to Digest
If you’re a cat owner, you may have recently heard that your pet shouldn’t eat milk.
There are good reasons for this; some cats can’t eat milk.
“Some cats don’t produce the enzyme lactase to digest milk and other dairy products, so they experience digestion problems when they consume them, such as diarrhea or vomiting, if not an outright allergic reaction, like hives or wheezing. In rare cases, in addition to these gastrointestinal symptoms, more serious health issues can develop because of allergies triggered by dairy consumption,” says Dr. Liz Wynn, DVM.
But there is hope for cat owners who want to share dairy with their felines some forms of cheese and yogurt may be easier on kitty tummies than others.
Different types of cheeses contain varying amounts of lactose (milk sugar). “Harder cheeses have less lactose than soft ones because of the bacteria used to make them.”
Cats and Dairy Fact 4: Kittens Don’t Need Cow’s Milk
Kittens, like humans, are born with lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugars found in milk.
Because kittens can digest a small amount of their mother’s milk and get nutrition, they don’t need to produce large amounts of lactase after weaning.
But cow’s milk has much more sugar and protein than cat’s milk.
“There is just not enough lactase present to handle the amount of sugar or casein in cow’s milk,” says Dr. Louise Murray, director of the Feline Health Center at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca. N.Y., “and these substances pass right through undigested.”
The fact that whey makes up over 90% (compared with 2-3% for cat’s milk) means many kittens will have an allergic reaction to dairy products; some may even develop diarrhea or become dehydrated because they aren’t getting enough nutrients.
Cats and Dairy Fact 5: Cats Need Water, First
Cats need water.
It’s one of their primary biological needs, food, shelter, and affection.
Cats’ bodies are designed to conserve moisture; they get most of the fluids they need from the prey they eat.
But domesticated cats have no source for this natural hydration other than what you provide them in their bowls at home.
Without enough water, your kitty may develop serious health problems such as dehydration and kidney disease that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
Water helps regulate body temperature: The more active your cat is (such as running around chasing a toy), the more fluid she’ll lose through her paws and mouth while panting to cool off.
If she doesn’t replace those lost fluids quickly enough by drinking lots of fresh water, she could end up overheating or even suffer heatstroke.
That’s why it’s essential to make sure there’s always plenty of clean, fresh water available for your cat throughout the day, especially during hot summer months when you wouldn’t want her to be under-hydrated.
“Cats are very efficient at conserving water,” Dr. Murray explains, “so they don’t need a lot and their kidneys can handle it.”
But if your cat is drinking too much or has trouble urinating (which could indicate dehydration), she may need veterinary help for her urinary tract health.
Cats and Dairy Fact 6: Cats Need To Eat A Balanced Diet
Dogs have four stomachs, which allow them to eat large amounts of food without getting constipated, but cats only have two stomachs.
So, if you think about the amount of kibble (or canned food) you give your pet, the diet must be balanced enough for both the quantity and quality of nutrients he needs to stay healthy and happy over time.
Many small breed dogs get everything they need from a single meal, but cats require more than one source per day because they overeat high-protein foods such as meat.
Can cats drink cow milk?
Yes, cats can drink cow milk. It’s not their preferred choice, but they can drink it if they’re thirsty. Cats usually drink water or milk specifically made for them, but cow milk is a viable option in a pinch.
At what age can cats drink cows’ milk?
Cats can drink cows’ milk starting at around 4-6 weeks old. Before that age, they need a unique kitten formula because they can’t digest regular cow’s milk, although it’s not recommended.
Can cats drink store-bought milk?
Yes, cats can drink store-bought milk. However, it is not recommended that they drink it regularly. Cats are lactose intolerant, so drinking store-bought milk can cause them to experience stomach upset or diarrhea.
Can cats drink almond milk?
There is little research on the matter. However, many people believe that almond milk is safe for cats if it does not contain any added sweeteners or flavors. It is always best to speak with a veterinarian if you are unsure whether a particular food is safe for your pet.
What kind of milk can cats drink?
There are a few types of milk that cats can drink. The most common type of milk that cats can drink is cow’s milk. However, some cats can also drink almond milk and soy milk.
Can cats drink water?
Yes, cats can drink water. They need to drink water to stay healthy.
Can cats drink lactose-free milk?
Yes, cats can drink lactose-free milk. Lactose-free milk is made without the sugar lactose, which some cats have trouble digesting.
Can cats drink goat milk?
Yes, cats can drink goat milk. It is a good source of protein and other nutrients for them.
What happens if a cat drinks cow milk?
Cow milk is not a natural food for cats and can cause them to become ill. Cats that drink cow milk can develop diarrhea, vomiting, and other digestive problems.