Can Cats Drink Milk

The question ‘can cats drink milk?’ often leads to the iconic image of a cat with a bowl of milk. Yet, in truth, most cats are lactose intolerant and shouldn’t drink milk regularly. Our guide explains why and walks you through safe alternatives for those occasional indulgences.

What you should know about cats drinking milk:

  • Keep the cat away from the cow, most felines are lactose intolerant and their tummies do not approve of your cream dreams.

  • Goat milk’s the new cat hipster drink, lower in lactose, but don’t make it a dietary staple or your cat’s just milking it.

  • Water wins the ‘Most Valuable Liquid’ award for cats, with milk as an occasional cameo and almond milk as the possible understudy.

Milk and Cats: A Complex Relationship

Say “milk,” and the image of a purring cat with a saucer might pop up in your mind. Historical depictions have cemented this association over time, Tom & Jerry anyone? Our feline friends do indeed have an instinctive attraction to consume milk, thanks to the fat and protein content it has.

But does this mean that milk is the cat’s meow when it comes to their diet? Let’s find out!

The Myth of Cats and Milk

Contrary to popular belief, cats and milk aren’t a match made in heaven. Despite their evident fondness for this creamy beverage, most cats are lactose intolerant. Yes, you heard that right! Cats might be drawn to the proteins and fats in milk, but their digestive systems often throw a hissy fit post-consumption.

So, while traditional beliefs have often included milk in cats’ diets, modern science raises a cautionary tail—err, tale.

Lactose Intolerance in Adult Cats

Just like some humans, many cats become lactose intolerant after their breastfeeding period. They develop a decreased ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. This predicament arises because adult cats naturally produce less or no lactase, the enzyme necessary for breaking down lactose.

While kittens can happily chug their mom’s milk, adult cats often experience digestive discomfort from lactose intolerance. This intolerance can lead to an upset stomach and is a common affliction among many animals, including cats, during their adult lives.

The Truth About Feeding Your Cat Milk

Before you rush off to pour a glass of milk for your furry friend, hold up! It’s crucial to consult a vet before incorporating any milk into a cat’s diet to ensure it’s safe. Just like with human diets, what works for one cat may not work for another.

Now, let’s explore potential issues with cow milk, including raw milk, and occasions when milk might be acceptable for your whiskered companion.

Potential Digestive Issues from Cow Milk

While kittens are often seen happily nursing from their mother, most adult cats lack the enzyme lactase, making them lactose intolerant and prone to digestive issues when consuming cow milk. Picture this: you give your cat a saucer of milk. A few hours later, they’re facing gastrointestinal issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain, not to mention the potential for more severe health issues like dehydration. The culprit? Lactose intolerance.

So, the next time your cat gives you those pleading eyes for some milk, remember the potential aftermath!

When Is Milk Acceptable to give your cat?

Now, before you banish all dairy from your cat’s sight, there are exceptions to the “no milk” rule. Foods specially formulated for cats can incorporate a touch of milk without causing digestive upset. Specially formulated cat milk that is low in lactose or lactose-free can be offered to cats as an occasional treat, keeping their caloric content in check.

Ever heard of Cat-Sip? Lactose-free products like this, which include lactase, help prevent digestive upset when given as a treat. Even lactose-free dairy milk and plant-based milks free from lactose and added sugars or flavorings can be given as occasional treats.

Goat Milk vs. Cow Milk for Cats: A Comparison

If you’re a fan of goat cheese or goat milk ice cream, you might be wondering: can cats share this delight? Well, goat milk does have less lactose than cow milk, which may make it easier for some cats to digest. But let’s not jump to conclusions. Goat milk can still cause upset tummies in some cats.

On the bright side, it does provide a variety of health benefits like essential fatty acids and antioxidants. However, it’s essential to feed goat milk in moderation and not as a replacement for other foods in a cat’s diet.

Why Goat Milk is Better For Cats

One reason goat milk may be a better option for your feline friend is its lower lactose levels compared to cow’s milk. This means it could be easier for your cat to digest and better tolerated by their system, making cat goat milk a suitable choice for drinking goat milk and goat milk good.

Plus, goat milk contains beneficial oligosaccharides that may help alleviate gastrointestinal inflammation, contributing to better overall digestion in cats. So, the next time you’re at the grocery store, you might want to consider picking up some goat milk for your furry friend.

Nutritional Value of Goats Milk For Cats:

While goat milk might seem like the purr-fect alternative, there’s another factor to consider: the fat content in cow milk. This can have implications for a cat’s health, especially in terms of weight management. Yep, too much of that creamy cow milk could lead to some extra fluff on your cat, making portion control essential. And it’s not just about the pounds; feeding cow milk to cats can disrupt their nutritional balance.

Milk as an Occasional Treat

Despite the potential benefits, it’s important to remember that milk should be used sparingly as a treat and not considered a staple food in a cat’s diet. It’s not advisable to replace your cat’s balanced meal with a bowl of milk, as it lacks the essential nutrients necessary for their health.

That said, goat milk can be given as a treat mixed with food to enhance a cat’s hydration and flavor enjoyment. Even fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir might be more digestible for cats and can be considered as treats.

Safe Ways to Introduce Milk to Your Cat

If you’re eager to introduce milk into your cat’s diet, it’s crucial to do so safely. Start with small amounts, as little as 1/8 teaspoon initially. Remember, treats (including milk) should not exceed more than 10% of the cat’s daily caloric intake.

After giving milk to your cat, wait 12 to 16 hours to check for any signs of stomach upset, which could indicate lactose intolerance or sensitivity. And, of course, always ensure your cat has access to fresh water, especially when introducing milk to their diet.

Starting with Small Amounts

Some adult cats may tolerate small amounts of milk without adverse effects, allowing it to be included in their diet cautiously. It’s all about testing the waters – or, in this case, the milk! Veterinarians may suggest starting with a tablespoon of cow’s milk to test tolerance, limiting it to once or twice a week.

Remember, when giving milk to cats, it should not exceed one tablespoon at a time and must constitute no more than 10 percent of their daily caloric intake.

Choosing the Right Milk Product

Choosing the right milk product for your newborn kitten is also essential. Unpasteurized milk should be avoided for kittens and puppies due to potential health risks associated with their underdeveloped immune systems. Instead, opt for pasteurized milk or lactose-free milk and milk substitutes designed specifically for cats to help prevent digestive issues commonly caused by traditional cow’s milk.

Milk specially formulated for cats, such as kitten formula, often contains added nutrients and lactase, making it more suitable than regular cow or goat milk, and even more so than mother’s milk in some cases.

Alternatives to Cow Milk for Hydration and Nutrition

While we’ve spent a lot of time discussing milk, it’s essential to remember that cats can maintain optimal health with a diet free of milk, as long as it is balanced and nutritionally complete.

So, what are the alternatives? Let’s explore.

Fresh Water: The Best Drink for Cats

First up on the list of alternatives is, of course, fresh water. Fresh water serves as the primary source of hydration for cats and is essential for their health. Cats prefer to drink clean, fresh water, and it’s important to change the water daily to prevent bacterial growth and ensure it remains appealing.

Providing multiple water bowls in various locations can encourage cats to drink regularly, aiding in their hydration.

Non-Dairy Nutritional Supplements

Aside from water, non-dairy nutritional supplements can also enhance a cat’s hydration and provide essential nutrients. For instance, unsweetened almond milk is a non-dairy alternative that lacks lactose and is low in carbohydrates, suitable for occasional consumption by cats.

In addition, there are specific supplements like Nutra Thrive that provide health benefits such as improved digestion, increased energy, and healthier coats in cats.


In conclusion, while the image of a cat lapping up a bowl of milk might be ingrained in popular culture, the reality is more complex. Many cats are lactose intolerant, leading to potential digestive issues. Goat milk, with its lower lactose level, might be a better option for some cats. However, milk should always be fed in moderation and should not replace a balanced diet. Always consult a vet before introducing milk into your cat’s diet. After all, no one knows your furry friend better than you and your trusted vet!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to give milk to cats?

No, giving milk to cats is a bad idea. Most cats are lactose intolerant, and giving them milk can lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Stick to water or specially designed cat milk options.

Can cats have a bowl of milk?

Nope, cats shouldn't have milk because it can give them a bad case of the tummy troubles. Their lactose intolerance means milk equals stomach upset, not a purr-fect situation!

How much milk can a cat drink?

Give your cat a tablespoon of cow's milk once or twice a week as a special dessert, with vet approval. Don't let them binge on the milk bar! Cheers!

What liquids can cats drink?

Stick to water for your cat's hydration - it's the best and safest option for them. Avoid giving them milk or other substitutes, as those can make them sick. And definitely don't give them cantaloupe, despite how much they may beg for it!

Is goat milk safer for cats than cow milk?

Don't go baa-nanas over it, but goat milk has less lactose than cow milk, so it could be easier for some cats to digest. Just don't let it replace their well-balanced diet, ok?

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