Can I Give My Cat Milk?



A kitten lapping at a bowl of milk is such a sweet image, and one that is often used in books, films, TV commercials, and advertisements to depict the idea of innocence, or a happy, healthy cat. And yet, nothing could be more deceptive.

Most people don’t realize that giving cow’s milk to their cat can be, at best, detrimental to its health, and at worse extremely dangerous, or even deadly.

In adult cats, cow’s milk can cause diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, and even sometimes kidney problems. Giving cow’s milk to kittens who are not yet weaned can be life threatening. It will give them diarrhea, and thus dehydrate them. Adult cats can often recover from these problems, but infant cats often die when they become dehydrated.

But if cow’s milk is so bad for cats, you may wonder how can they drink their own mother’s milk? Most adult cats are lactose intolerant, and because of this, many people presume that cat’s milk does not contain lactose.

However, the real reason that kittens can drink their mother’s milk but not cow’s milk is because infant cats possess the necessary enzyme that enables them to properly digest the lactose, but once they begin the weaning process, and grow older, they stop developing that enzyme, as it is no longer necessary for their health and growth.

As a result, many cats naturally become lactose intolerant. They can no longer properly digest the sugars found in lactose. Cow’s milk also doesn’t really have much, if any, nutritional value for cats. it is designed for calves, and thus does not have the same makeup as cat’s milk, which is nutritionally balanced only for infant cats.

While the occasional adult cat can still deal with lactose, if you intend to introduce cow’s milk to your cat, do so cautiously, only a few ounces at a time. If you notice any gas problems or diarrhea after you have given the milk, you can assume your cat is lactose intolerant and should not be given any cow’s milk.

If you have recently brought home a new kitten and you want to give it some milk, a specially formulated cat milk replacer is an acceptable alternative. You can find it in many grocery stores, or through your veterinarian. This is also safe for adult cats, as a special treat.

A fresh supply of water is all your cat requires for adequate hydration.