Can Cats Drink Milk?

Cat drinking from metal bowl

Do cats like milk? Some may, but that doesn’t mean they should be lapping up a bowl of cow’s milk. While kittens can digest milk, adult cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they need a meat-based diet. So before you give your cat a saucer of milk, find out more about how milk can impact your cat’s digestive system.

Is Milk Bad for Cats?

Like all mammals, kittens are born able to digest lactose, which is the main sugar present in their mother’s milk. Once weaned, they lose that ability. The enzyme responsible for lactose digestion (lactase) disappears from the gut. With this enzyme gone, any milk adult cats drink will ferment inside them and cause stomach upset. Many people experience lactose intolerance as well.

Do Cats Like Milk?

In the same way that people often like food that isn’t the best for them, some cats may enjoy cows milk, even if it’s not an ideal part of their diet. So, can cats drink milk? While generally not recommended, not all cats are lactose intolerant. If you want to give your cat milk, you can purchase specially-formulated lactose-free cat milk from your local pet store. Keep in mind, though, that even this milk contains calories, which you’ll want to limit to prevent obesity.

Cat with milk carton

Treat Alternatives

If you want to give your kitty a special treat, there are plenty of meat-based cat-treats on the market that won’t risk stomach cramping. As with milk, though, you’ll want to ensure that they’re a small part of your cat’s diet, ideally less than 10% of their total calories for the day. Other treat alternatives include spending some quality time playing with your kitty. While food is great, they may appreciate time with you more!

Need to schedule an appointment with a Veterinarian?

Please contact Springbrook Animal Care Center.