You may want to think twice next time you pour your cat cow’s milk. If you have ever read children’s books where there is a cat, you are probably wondering, “Can cats drink milk?”
The age-old myth that milk and cats go hand in hand has officially been debunked by veterinarians and cat experts. Regardless of how tasty milk may be to your cat, this is bad news for their stomach and digestive system. As it turns out, most cats are lactose intolerant.
Is milk bad for cats?
Just like humans, some cats cannot digest lactose, a milk sugar that is found in dairy.
The only time in a cat’s life when its body actually has enough of the enzyme lactase to properly digest lactose is at birth and during its early years of life.
This is so the cat can feed off of its mother’s milk. After that, less and less lactase is produced, resulting in potentially increased digestive complications. Even though some cats can tolerate milk and seem to enjoy it, cow’s milk just is not good for cats. Cats don’t need dairy milk, and the potential problems outweigh the potential benefits.
What happens when cats drink milk?
When a cat drinks milk, undigested lactose will stay in its intestines rather than passing into the bloodstream, and end up fermenting, Whole, two per cent, and skim cow’s milk can also add unhealthy amounts of fat to your cat’s diet.
Since cats do not have the enzyme necessary for digesting lactose, drinking milk can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight, abdominal pain and discomfort, and cause behavior changes such as increased scratching.
Again, just like humans, some cats do not have a problem digesting milk. Regardless, most veterinarians suggest other alternatives since cow’s milk has no nutritional benefits for cats.
When do cats stop drinking their mother’s milk?
Cats feed on their mother’s milk after they are born.
The only time in a cat’s life when their body has enough of the enzyme lactase to properly digest lactose is at birth and during the first 12 weeks of their life. Once their teeth come in, kittens will wean off their mother’s milk and begin eating food.
What should your cat be drinking instead?
Cats need plenty of water. Water is incredibly important for promoting optimal organ function in cats. A great way to make sure your cat is getting enough water is by feeding him/her wet canned food. Cats are generally less keen on drinking water, so wet food is great for keeping cats hydrated.