Should you give your cat milk? She seems to love it, and she even asks for it at times. Veterinarians recommend not giving a cat milk most of the time, but there are a few exceptions. There are also different types of milk; some are even safe for milk-craving kitties. Whether or not you give your feline friend a bowl of milk depends on your preference and her reaction to the milk. To figure out if your cat qualifies to receive a cool bowl of cow’s milk, then read on!
The first thing to realize is that milk is not an essential part of a cat’s diet. There is no added health benefit for a cat to drink milk. Most cats simply like the way the milk tastes; so, to them, it’s like getting a treat. You may be wondering why cats can’t tolerate milk even though the drink their mother’s milk as kittens. Mother’s milk and cow’s milk are two different types of milk; a kitten and a calf each require certain nutrients to grow but not necessarily the same nutrients in the same amounts.
Many owners have found that giving a cat milk only upsets the cat’s system, causing diarrhea and stomach aches. It is not that the milk itself is bad for your kitty. In reality, your cat’s digestive system cannot handle the milk. In fact, most cats are lactose intolerant. What is lactose intolerance? Well, there are enzymes, known as lactase, in the intestinal system. The lactase is responsible for breaking down and metabolizing lactose (a sugar found in milk and other dairy products). When a person or animal’s intestinal system lacks lactase completely (or does not have enough of it), the person or animal can experience stomach pain, diarrhea, etc.
So, how do you determine whether or not your cat’s digestive system can handle milk? Give her a small amount of milk and see what happens. Pay attention to her stool. If she has diarrhea or appears to be uncomfortable after drinking the milk, then it’s safe to assume that she is lactose intolerant. While most cats cannot drink milk, there are some that can. However, milk should not be given in the place of food or water. As mentioned before, giving milk to a cat will not make the cat healthier. Milk should be used as a treat. It is okay to give your cat a little milk every once in awhile, but the treat should not be abused.
If your cat is lactose intolerant but loves the taste of milk, then swing by a pet store on your way home from work. Most pet stores carry a special “cat milk” that is completely safe for felines. They enjoy it, and it won’t upset their digestive system. If you drink lactose-free milk (found in most grocery stores), then you can try giving your cat a taste of it. But, still pay attention to her reaction to make sure that she can handle the milk.
If you find yourself with a young, motherless kitten (less than four or five weeks of age), then you need to find a way to get the kitten milk. As mentioned before, cow’s milk is not the same as cat’s milk, so do not feed the kitten with cow’s milk. Most veterinary offices carry a milk supplement that can take the place of the mother’s milk. Talk to the vet about how often you need to provide the milk supplement to the kitten and how much should be given each time. Around four weeks of age, kittens begin to wean; so you don’t have to worry about supplying the supplement for a long period of time!
Although many cats enjoy a tasty bowl of cold milk, most cats cannot actually handle the substance. If given at all, milk should be given as a treat. If your cat is lactose intolerant, then look for lactose-free or cat-specific milk. A baby kitten should have a diet of milk, but the milk needs to be provided by the mother cat or your veterinarian. If you have any questions about what you are feeding your cat, then don’t be afraid to ask someone who knows!