We see many cultural references about how cats love milk in movies and animated series. But, you might wonder, where does this idea come from? Well, cats are mammals, and like any other mammal, once they are born, mother’s milk makes up their entire diet until they can eat solid food.
Cats like milk because of its taste and smell, even though grown-up cats shouldn’t drink milk. There’s a reason why cats should only drink milk while they are babies. As they reach adulthood, cats lose the ability to digest lactose.
Now you are probably thinking about all the moments you ever served milk to your precious furry friend. You don’t need to worry. You didn’t do any harm to it. In this article, we will clarify some myths around milk and cats.
Understanding Cat’s Dietary Needs
Kittens Dietary Needs
As you know, female cats have nipples to nurse their newborn offspring. It takes around a month before a kitten can stop drinking mother’s milk and start eating solid food. Wild cats and domestic cats are capable of hunting their food. However, this is not always the case with domestic cats.
Now that cats live with humans, they have become more dependent on us to fulfill their dietary needs. Store-bought cat food contains all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals a cat needs. Thus, the correct change would be to switch from kitten’s milk to cat food.
But you might see how your grown-up kitty seems to be attracted to other types of food, including fruits, vegetables, and cow milk.
Cat’s Dietary Needs
Once the kitten reaches its first five weeks of life, the mother will start the weaning process. During this period, the queen will reduce the amount of milk she gives to her kittens. Now the kittens have shown the ability to walk and have developed their teeth. They are ready to hunt small animals.
The daily calorie intake for a cat ranges between 20 to 35 calories per pound. Most of these calories need to come from protein sources, fats come second, while carbs are not necessary to a cat’s health.
Understanding Cat’s Milk
Mother’s milk is essential for the cat’s development. There the newborn kittens have a weakened immune system. Through milk, a kitten can receive many antibodies, which are critical to the kitten’s survival. We can say that milk gives them not only nourishment but also health protection.
Many cat food brands have developed substitutes to cat’s milk if your queen cannot feed a kitten or the whole litter. You can see brands advertise this replacement as low in fat and lactose-free.
Cats And Cow Milk
Most cats will be alright after drinking cow’s milk, and you won’t notice any visible changes in your cat’s health. However, you must know cow milk has a high-fat content.
Cats And Whole Milk
Whole milk contains roughly 4% of fat. Your cat will get approximately 3g of fat in every cup, about 12g of carbohydrates, and 8g of protein. As you can see, whole milk is nutrient-rich, but it has a high carb count, and your cat should stay away from carbs to stay healthy. Cats can’t break down carbs; this also includes lactose, a type of sugar. It means lactose will last longer in the feline’s body before the digestive system can decide what to absorb and what to excrete.
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High carb consumption in cats is related to obesity and many other diseases. Once your cat reaches an unhealthy weight, it won’t be able to move as usual, and this will damage its joints and muscles. Additionally, an overweight cat can develop diabetes, kidney issues, and many other conditions.
Cats And Skimmed Milk
Even though skimmed milk offers a reduced amount of fat, experts don’t recommend it for cats. After all, it is cow’s milk, and we already know the nutrients that this milk contains. Such nutrients are not suitable for your cat’s health.
Cats And Goat Milk
People consider this a great option for cats because goat milk is much better than cow milk in many ways. Goat milk offers 10g of fat, 11g of carbs, and 9g of protein per cup. These numbers sound very good compared to whole milk. Additionally, goat milk contains less lactose than cow milk. However, experts recommend keeping milk intake at a minimum for adult cats.
Cats And Plant-Based Milk
Now we will talk about plant-based milk. This product is on the rise due to all its benefits and because it is much more environmentally friendly. Plant-based milk doesn’t come from an animal and is lactose-free, so our furry friends can enjoy this delicious drink, can’t they?
Cats And Almond Milk
Experts suggest this is the safest type of milk for cats. However, you want to be careful with which type of almond milk you choose. There’s a variety of options available, sweetened, vanilla flavor, unsweetened, and so on. Depending on the added ingredients, almond milk can go from 30 calories to 90 calories per cup.
Cats And Soy Milk
When it comes to soy milk, a crucial thing to consider is the fat content. One cup of soy milk contains 4.3g of fat, 15g of carbs, and 8g of protein. With the information you have so far, there’s no need to add up the figures to notice that this is a big no for cats.
Cats And Coconut Milk
People do not recommend coconut milk for cats; this plant-based option offers 45g of fat per cup. Some people claim the high-fat content in coconut milk can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress in cats. Also, the sugar content is very high compared to what your cat needs daily. When it comes to protein, this option offers roughly 5g.
Do Cats Like Dairy Products?
People don’t recommend dairy products for cats; however, there are exceptions to this rule. Some options can be beneficial to your cat. We made a list of the products your cat can and cannot eat.
Dairy products your cat can eat:
- Cream cheese
- Mozzarella cheese
- Gouda cheese
- Parmesan cheese
Dairy products your cat cannot eat:
- Ice cream
At What Age Should A Cat Stop Drinking Milk?
Once the kitten has grown its teeth, it’s time for it to stop drinking milk. If you take care of a newborn kitten because its mother cannot nurse him, there are formulas to replace the mother’s milk.
Is It Okay To Give Cats Milk Every Once In A While?
If your pet enjoys the taste of milk, yes, it is. You can give milk as an occasional treat to your cat. Keep in mind balance is fundamental to avoid any unwanted visits to the vet.
Why Is My Cat Obsessed With Milk?
People claim cats can identify the fats and proteins in milk by smelling them. That’s the reason why most cats love milk or any other dairy product.
What Can Cats Drink Besides Water?
Water should be the main drink in a cat’s diet. However, there are times when you feel like giving something tastier. You can go for homemade soup or wet cat food, which is a great option.
Should I Mix My Cat’s Medicine In Milk?
Many people don’t recommend using milk to disguise your cat’s medicine because your cat may not be able to absorb it immediately. If you want to mix your cat’s medication, make sure you do it into his food. It will be easier to digest, and the medicine can take effect in less time.
Can Other Animals Nurse A Kitten?
It is not uncommon that other animals such as dogs adopt baby kittens for nursing purposes. Please make sure you discuss with your vet as there are many risks involved in this practice.
Can Milk Cause An Allergic Reaction In My Cat?
No, milk won’t cause an allergic reaction to your cat. This food is completely safe for cats to eat. The inconvenience comes when it is time to digest it. Your furry companion might struggle to digest milk. Cramps, a bloated stomach, and diarrhea are some of the symptoms your cat can have after drinking milk.
Final Thoughts About Cats And Milk
As you can see, cats like milk, but they are not supposed to drink milk. No need to worry; you are not the only one who has fallen for this myth.
Sometimes it’s easy for us to believe that any food is good for our pets. Even more so when we have many cultural references leading us to think cats love milk. Your cat may like milk if you offer it very frequently; it’s no surprise your pet will drink it. However, experts recommend the only liquid you provide to a cat is water.
Cow milk doesn’t offer many necessary nutrients to your cats’ diet and could upset their stomach. You have other options available, such as unsweetened almond milk.
Anyways, there’s no harm in giving milk as an occasional treat. We suggest you check with your local vet beforehand to make sure you’re good to go.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.