Can cats drink milk?

We’ve all heard of the cat who got the cream, and know the iconic image of a cat lapping milk from a saucer. So cats can drink milk, right? Wrong. Milk is generally unsuitable for cats after they’ve weaned from their mother’s milk and cow’s milk is never a good idea for a cat.


Can Kittens drink milk?

Early in life, from mother to kitten, milk is a nutrient rich lifeline. Crucially however, kittens should drink cat milk only, or a specially prepared kitten milk formula. They don’t have the natural ability to digest cow’s milk, and in fact it can cause upset stomachs, diarrhoea and dehydration which very is dangerous for young kitties. Likewise, milk alternatives like soy, oat or any other are simply not suitable.

can cats drink milk

Is milk bad for cats?

At birth and early in life kittens have plentiful lactase, the enzyme that enables them to break down lactose, the natural sugar found in milk. As they grow they no longer produce as much which inhibits their ability to digest milk. As result, adult cats, like many humans, are simply intolerant to milk. Consuming it can trigger digestive complaints and the negative effect begins to outweigh the benefit.

Why do cats drink milk?

As a youngster milk is an important source of nutrients, but as cats grow they lose the ability to deal with milk. That being said, the sweet, fatty liquid may remain very tempting for your cat. Why do things that are so bad, have to taste so good?! Even the most doting owners, should avoid the temptation to give a grown cat milk, as it is extremely fatty and can cause a whole host of issues.

What happens when cats drink milk?

When your cat drinks milk, the undigested lactose will sit in their stomach rather than being processed into the bloodstream. The lactose can begin to ferment, leading to gastrointestinal issues such as upset stomach, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight, abdominal pain and discomfort.

Of course, like humans some cats have no issue digesting milk. However, they still shouldn’t be given it regularly as cow's milk adds an unhealthy amount of fat to a cat’s diet without any nutritional benefits. It is best to just stay clear of milk regardless of your cat's reaction.  

What should your cat be drinking?

Well the answer is pretty simple - water. Although, many domesticated cats have lost their wild instinct to keep their water levels high as it is not nearly as scarce as it would have been for their wild ancestors. Some cats don't realize they aren't drinking enough water which can lead to kidney issues. When a vet thinks a cat isn't drinking enough, they will likely suggest wet food. This is a great way to get your cat hydrated without them even knowing!

There are also some fantastic ways of making drinking water a little more tempting for your cat. Boo prefers to drink from running water – and can often be found around her lapping away at her mini water fountain.

If your kitty isn't much of a drink you could also try feeding wet cat food. This has a high moisture content to keep your cat quenched. Our range of wet cat food is not only packed with moisture, but a high protein content too, to provide your kitty with all the essential amino acids they need to thrive.

We offer four flavours of meaty pate cat food recipes; including our chicken grain free wet cat food, tuna cat food and turkey, with tummy-soothing slippery elm too. As an ethically certified B Corp we also make it all in the UK and Ireland, and serve them in 100% recyclable pots and sleeves. We'd love to know what you think!

You might be interested in reading:

  1. Can cats eat cheese?
  2. Can cats eat chocolate?
  3. Probiotics for cats

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