Is Milk Bad For Cats?
Okay, so what is the first name that comes to your mind when you think of a cat’s favorite drink? What do you think is the healthiest drink for them? If “milk” is the first thing that popped up in your mind, then you are one of those millions of people who are misinformed and misguided. So, the question is: is milk bad for cats? Well, let’s put it this way: milk is actually one of the last things you should feed a cat!
Now, I know you may be having hard times believing this, and it may even sound like a lie, but I wouldn’t blame you either. This is because ever since we were little kids, we were led to believe through story books, cartoons and even people that cats love milk. We know that Tom, the cat loves milk; we are also aware how Garfield is obsessed with milk.
Basically, we were convinced from a very young age that milk is an ideal and wholesome food for cats and that it is has a vital place in their natural diet. But, the truth is miles far from it. In this article, we will be busting the ultimate myth of cats and milk, investigate why is milk bad for cats, and also cover a few very important details on this issue. This could save a few lives so read through attentively. Let’s get started!
Why Is Milk Bad For Cats?
So now, you know that milk is not remotely good for cats. But the years and years of accepting the concept that it is, which is not correct, make it very difficult to convert the other side of the idea just like that, and which is why I think you are still not entirely convinced yet of the truth yet. So, is milk bad for cats? What is the reason behind it? Here’s how it does the damage:
All milk, cows’, goats’, sheep’s and all the rest, contain a type of sugar called lactose. The first thing you should know that all mammals are more or less intolerant to lactose (you may have noticed that in humans already by now). But, most mammals have what it takes to digest and break down the lactose to some extent.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about cats. The thing to learn here is that cats in particular so have so little of these enzymes, called lactase, present in their digestive systems that are required to break down the lactose sugar they get from milk that it is nearly non-existent. And even if they do have a higher lactase enzyme content, it is present in such mediocre amounts compared to other mammals that it safer not to try and gamble with the odds at all. Also, be particularly careful about cows’ milk since it contains one the highest lactose content.
But, kittens drink milk all the time, don’t they? And, is milk bad for cats that can tolerate it?
Yes, you are right; cats do drink milk when they are young. This is because kittens are equipped with the digesting power of lactose when they are very young and vulnerable, and the mother cat’s milk is designed to complement a kitten’s stomach. However, this ability to digest lactose diminishes and depletes over time as they mature and grow older. And, this is why kittens do not suffer from lactose poisoning like how the adult cats do. In fact, the milk is doing a great job of nourishing the kitten at that age.
If milk is so bad for cats, how come some cats do not suffer from it at all?
All felines are intolerant to lactose; some more, some less. So if you know a cat that drinks milk without and facing any consequences, then it could be because it is blessed with very high lactose tolerance. There are always exceptions to a rule. And this is one of them. Some cats cannot least bit endure the problems that lactose can bring to their systems, while some bask in the goodness of milk and seem immune to the damage pretty much entirely!
Why so? Well, this is a very complex question since there are a lot of physical and genetic factors that need to be considered to find out a reason for some cats’ immunity. But, another valid hypothesis could be that the cats that can drink milk without a problem can do so thanks to long-term conditioning. It could be that drinking milk from a very young age on a regular basis and a safe proportion has accustomed and conditioned their digestive system to milk as a non-threatening criterion of food.
Should you continue giving milk to a cat that does not show signs of lactose intolerance?
If you own a cat that has been drinking milk from a very young age and has grown up drinking it without any problems, then I say that you should not be too worried. There is no need to cut off its milk intake since it has clearly shown extreme tolerance to lactose already and has never shown any symptoms of poisoning or discomfort from it.
However, on the other hand, if you have a cat whose tolerance is something you are very unaware of, then I recommend not taking the risk at all. Identifying a cat’s level tolerance to milk is very tricky since it differs from cat to cat. Just because your cat did not react to milk that one time immediately does not mean it is safe from lactose poisoning just yet. Symptoms of intolerance will start to show within 6 hours after consumption, and sometimes, may not show too dramatically at all. The point is, if you are not a 100% sure of its tolerance then do not allow consumption of milk. Your cat’s health is not a science experiment that you could test it for negative and positive. It is always a smart idea to not allow milk at all, then to allow it and invite suffering.
What are some of the consequences of feeding milk to cats?
Feeding milk to a lactose sensitive cat could prove devastating. If you are wondering then, no, it will not kill the cat right away, but it will certainly result in some very terrible and adverse reactions. Within 6-8 hours of the consumption, the cat will experience severe cramps and discomforts. They could also experience regurgitation, gas, vomiting or nausea.
This is because, like mentioned previously, lactose cannot be digested by the cats. And because lactose is sugar, it has a tendency to draw out water into the intestines, eventually causing diarrhea or foamy, watery stool. The sugar also invites fermentation in the feline’s guts and ends up producing alcohol and gas which could make the cat feel terribly bloated and woozy. But, it is good to remember that some cats are extremely sensitive to lactose, and exposure to even a small amount can lead to long-term chronic health problems, and in some very severe cases, even death.
What should I do if my lactose intolerant cat has consumed milk without my knowledge?
The first thing you should always do in such emergencies is to contact your nearest vet emergency service that you prefer. You should take your cat to the vet clinic under the 6 to 8 hours window (that is how long it takes for the reactions to set in). However, if you already start to see the symptoms of lactose poisoning, you need rush to the vets as soon as possible.
In unfortunate cases, sometimes owners may fail to get professional help due to circumstantial obstacles. In that case, though I do not condone it at all, feed the suffering cat a dosage of hydrogen peroxide. Yes, it is toxic, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It is very dangerous and could be fatal if it is fed in wrong proportions.
The rule is to feed 1 teaspoon of 3% peroxide per 10 pounds of body weight, for every 15-20 minutes until the cat vomits. Hydrogen peroxide induces vomiting and helps clean out the cat’s digestive system. Keep an eye on your cat after it has vomited as they have a tendency to eat up what they have regurgitated. But bear in mind that this is an extreme measure that should be used only when you are unable to take the cat to a vet right away. After the cat has vomited, it is advised that you take it for a checkup soon.
Will your cat miss out on the nutrition and goodness of milk?
We all know how healthy and nutrient-rich milk is. It has always been and still is, synonymous with bone strength and energy booster. It is rich in calcium, vitamin B12, magnesium, potassium and many more great health-boosters. However, no matter how healthy and nutritious milk is, for someone who can’t digest it, it is nothing short of punishment to be feeding them this. And I recommend you keep your cat away from this as far as far possible regardless of its health benefits.
While it is true that excluding milk from your cat’s diet will deprive it of some good health benefits, but there is nothing a good, balanced and protein-rich diet cannot solve. In fact, you can make a much better replacement for the benefits of milk by making paying a little effort on their daily intake. Your cat’s diet should, first and foremost, be protein-rich; they are carnivores for god’s sake. It should have ample amounts of healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals among many other essentials. And if you would like
Your cat’s diet should, first and foremost, be protein-rich; they are carnivores for god’s sake. It should have ample amounts of healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals among many other essentials. And if you would like, you pay some extra attention to your cat’s bone health, try giving it food rich in calcium or even go for prescribed calcium supplements. It is never easy putting together a proper diet without learning about a cat’s weight, body fat percentage or deficiencies. For the most accurate and best results, consult your veterinarian for a custom made diet plan specific to your cat’s needs.
Will a little cheat for treat do much harm?
We all how difficult it can be to keep your food cravings at bay. Us humans find it difficult to practice healthy diet ourselves. We could be living on carrots and cabbages all week, but just one whiff of the triple layer chocolate cake and we are hooked. Temptation always wins over diabetes. And, the same principle goes for our feline friends as well.
If you have own or have owned a cat, you probably know by now that self-control is not a cat’s most natural quality. And the moment they look into your soul with their gleaming eyes for a scoop of your ice-cream, we know you fall weak. So, if your cat has been a good kitty all week, I think it deserves a treat! Make sure you do not get carried away though. The treat should be small and very strictly portioned. Do not just keep shoving in the spoonfuls of cream into its mouth; this is exactly what it wants you to do! But you are its owner, and its health is your responsibility. Excessive lactose treats like ice cream,
Do not just keep shoving in the spoonfuls of cream into its mouth; this is exactly what it wants you to do! But you are its owner, and its health is your responsibility. Excessive lactose treats like ice-cream, yogurt, and cakes will not only trigger your cat’s intolerance but will also add up to its calories and weight, eventually inviting more health issues like kidney and heart diseases. I do not want to discourage you, in fact, a little cheating on a diet here and there is great, but know how much to give and know when to stop. Moderation is key!
So, are there any healthy and safe alternative to milk?
Fortunately, yes. Many healthy and safe alternatives are available at your disposal to replace your cat’s milk needs. I have put together a list of a few these alternatives. You will be surprised seeing some the recommendations here. Check it out!
And surprise! No, I am not pulling your legs. Water is possibly one of the best alternatives and replacements for milk. You may not know this, but over 90% of domestic cats in the world do not have enough water intake. Water is almost always absent from their meals, and overall diet. Needless to say, your cat is suffering from constant dehydration without you and your cat’s even knowing! Now, I do not mean to tickle your bones, but increasing your dry cat’s water consumption will not only act to hydrate him, but it will also so curb his urges for drinking milk (or any other drink for that matter)
Now, the proceeding section of the article is probably going to sound very contradictory and confusing, but did you know you could replace your cat’s milk cravings by replacing it with…... .well, milk! No, the article has not been lying to you all along. Find out which milk is safe for your cat:
- Lactose-free milk
You see cats could have been able to drink all the milk they wanted if it was not for that pesky lactose in them. Basically, the only hurdle is the lactose sugar present in milk. So, what is the solution? Lactase! You know through the article by now that lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose sugars. So, to cater to the needs to lactose intolerant people and animals, many foods and dairy manufacturers have come with a brilliant tactic to remove the lactose in milk entirely by the help of lactase! The lactase breaks down the lactose until there is absolutely no trace of it, finally rendering the milk safe and sound for consumption by lactose-intolerant individuals.
- Almond milk
Almond milk is one of the hottest trends in vegan communities today. No, I am not trying to convert your carnivore feline into a grass-loving goat, but it is important that you are well-informed of some of the options out there. Almond milk contains no lactose, is non-toxic, is healthier and lower in calories than regular animal-sourced milk. While I can’t guarantee how much your cat may like or dislike almond milk as a substitute, but you would be glad to know that more and more lactose sensitive cats are embracing this option with open claws. It may take some getting used to, but you will most definitely not regret it once its benefits start to show on your cat! For more elaboration on this subject, click here Almond milk and Cats.
These are just some of the many alternatives and substitutes for lactose-rich milk. The pet department of any big mall will show you more alternatives that are readily available today. You can always consult your cat’s veterinarian.
- Always consult your veterinarian before making any major changes to your cat’s diet. This includes introducing and excluding milk out of its diet as well.
- Keep an emergency vet’s contact number available at all times to address those uncalled for emergencies.
- Your cat may need some time to get used to the milk alternatives. Be patient.
This marks an end to our seminar about the confusing relationship of cats and milk. Ensuring your cat’s safety and good health is the purpose of this article. I hope I have been able to clear out some of the myths and confusions you may have had about this issue. Good luck!