Can cats drink milk?
Can cats drink cow’s milk? Is it good for them or is it harmful? Undoubtedly, these are some of the first questions that come up when we decide to adopt a cat , no matter how old it is. How many times have you seen cats enjoying a good cup of milk on television or in the movies? Well, in this article of YourCatCareguide we talk about the digestive system of the cat, detailing those cases where it is possible to offer this food, how to give and what type of milk is more appropriate. Keep reading and find out if cats can drink milk!
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The milk and the cats
Before indicating whether milk is good for cats or not, it is essential to talk about your digestive system and how the cat digests this food. As with humans, the digestive tract is always changing, changing the production of certain enzymes depending on the amount of protein ingested, as well as sugars, fats, etc. In this way, it is logical that changes are also subject to different stages of growth. In this sense, infants produce during lactation a large amount of the enzyme lactase, responsible for digesting the lactose that is found in milk. As weaning progresses and milk intake decreases, the infant’s digestive tract also decreases the production of lactase, sometimes leading to lactose intolerance in some cases.
This process can also occur in humans, hence the percentage of lactose intolerant is so high. However, as we have mentioned, not all cats are affected in such a radical way in the production of the enzyme and therefore some of them can tolerate milk in adulthood. Especially cats that continue to drink cow’s milk after weaning tend to continue producing lactase. However, although they have the ability to properly digest lactose, it is important to note that milk should not occupy the entire diet of the cat . Then we explain how to offer this food to your cat properly. With the growth of the puppy, it is essential to adapt your food to introduce new nutrients, proteins, vitamins, etc., necessary for its correct development.
On the other hand, although the production of the enzyme lactase decreases, if the cat continues to produce a small amount it is possible that it can tolerate the milk, also in small amounts. Likewise, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, because they have a smaller amount of lactose, can also be digested in smaller amounts.
So, can a kitten get milk?
If, with small cats, we refer to newborn puppies, the ideal is that they feed on breast milk. If, unfortunately, you are caring for a kitten that has been orphaned, we do not recommend giving you cow’s milk , since the composition is different from breast milk and therefore the animal will not be receiving the nutrients, lipids and proteins you need. Currently, it is possible to obtain preparations that simulate the mother’s milk of the cat, being necessary to resort to the veterinarian so that it indicates the best one according to the age of the cub. However, you can check out some tips in this article that explains how to feed a newborn cat .
However, if the cat in question is a puppy but has already been weaned, you can offer small amounts of milk to see if his body digests it correctly. If you have no problem, you may conclude that the little cat can drink milk from time to time, always as a supplement and never as a main ingredient.
Can you drink cow’s milk when you’re an adult?
As we saw earlier, most cats tend to progressively reduce the production of lactase after weaning. This means that, due to enzyme deficiency or the complete disappearance of the enzyme, many of them may become lactose intolerant . Why does it happen? Very simple. Lactose is the sugar that makes up milk, consisting of glucose and galactose. To digest it, the body naturally produces the enzyme lactase in the small intestine, which is in charge of breaking it down to transform it into simple sugars and, therefore, to facilitate its absorption. When the enzyme can not fulfill its function, lactose passes into the large intestine without being digested and develops several digestive problems by fermenting at the expense of the bacterial flora. Like this,the symptoms of lactose intolerance in cats are as follows:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bloating of the abdominal area
So if after giving cow’s milk to your adult cat you observe these symptoms, it is very likely that it is an intolerance and therefore you should eliminate lactose from its diet. However, there is also allergy to lactose , a pathology completely different from the previous one. While lactose intolerance affects the digestive system, allergy includes the immune system, since the system develops a hypersensitivity and emits an allergic reaction when it realizes that the allergen in question has entered the body. In this case, the allergen would be lactose and the allergy would produce the following symptoms in the feline:
- Itching accompanied by urticaria
- Difficulty breathing
- Decreased blood pressure
- Stomach pain that can be identified by sudden meows.
If your pet suffers from any of these reactions, do not hesitate to visit the vet right away, especially if he is not breathing normally.
Finally, it is possible that the animal does not develop any of the above pathologies and therefore is able to properly digest lactose. In these cases, we can say that cats can drink cow’s milk without problems, always controlling the quantities and as a complement. For this, we recommend giving a little milk and watching the animal to ensure that you can actually ingest it from time to time or if, instead, you should eliminate it completely from the diet. The most important thing is to get to know your cat so he can understand the pet and know what is best for his health!
How to give milk to a cat
As we explained in the previous sections, if it seems that the cat does not suffer from any intolerance or allergy to lactose, you can offer some milk for it. In general, the most recommended one is usually to offer skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, although some cats tolerate whole milk without any problem. So we recommend you experiment and watch your furry companion to see how he reacts and thus find out what kind of milk he likes the most and how he feels best.
Por outro lado, se o seu felino mostrou sinais de intolerância mas gostaria de saber se o seu gato pode tomar leite na mesma, você deve ter em conta que a melhor opção é o leite sem lactose. Como acontece com os humanos, o leite sem lactose é mais fácil de digerir e, por isso, previne o aparecimento de problemas relacionados com o trato digestivo.
In relation to the quantity of milk recommended for cats, the fact is that we can not establish a certain number of milliliters because, as we have seen, everything depends on each case and the degree of tolerance of the animal. What we can guarantee is that, regardless of whether or not you have the ability to digest lactose, exaggerated consumption of milk is not recommended . Excess milk in the cat’s diet can result in too high a percentage of calcium, which can lead to the development of kidney stones, for example. For this reason, we advise you to define a rule according to the needs of your feline and offer milk twice a week in small troughs. However, we again point out that portions and doses may vary as long as the health of the animal is not impaired.
Cat can eat dairy products?
As discussed earlier, if there is no allergy or lactose intolerance, the cat can consume dairy products like cheese or yogurt without problems. As with all processed foods, you should always pay close attention to the quantities. In this sense, and although they are good for the animal, we do not recommend exaggerated consumption, being ideal to offer a couple of tablespoons of yogurt at breakfast, for example, or a piece of cheese as a prize. However, the yogurt should be natural and unsweetened and the cheese soft and creamy. You can switch the consumption of lactose-free milk with the intake of this type of dairy to avoid offering both foods on the same day.
In fact, yogurt in particular is a beneficial food for cats because of its high content of probiotics . In this sense, another product recommended for the same reason is kefir, which includes an even higher percentage and helps the animal regulate the intestinal flora and digestive system in general. We do not advise you to offer more than two doses per week, since products should only be given as a supplement.
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