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Cats and Dairy

July 15 2015

As soon as someone mentions cats and dairy, you probably picture a cat happily lapping up milk from a saucer. You may be surprised to learn that cats and dairy don’t actually mix! Learn more below from your Cherry Hill, NJ veterinarian.

Should Adult Cats be Given Milk?

No. As cats get older, their digestive systems start to contain less lactase, an enzyme that is essential for digesting lactose. We refer to this as becoming lactose intolerant—the same thing can happen in humans! Since adult cats can’t digest milk properly, stomach upset, vomiting, and possible diarrhea may occur shortly after consumption. While a tiny spoonful may not cause a problem, giving a cat a full saucer of milk is a sure-fire way to have a mess on your hands!

Don’t Kittens Drink Their Mother’s Milk?

Yes—during kittenhood, a cat will receive essential nutrients and life-saving antibodies from the mother’s milk. However, this is the only time in a cat’s life that they’ll require milk at all. As cats age, they start losing lactase, and therefore the ability to process milk properly.

Adult cats should be fed a high-quality, well-balanced feline diet that is appropriate for their age, breed, weight, and overall health. They’ll receive all the nutrients they require from their food! If you’d like a recommendation on a great cat food to give to your feline friend, contact your veterinarian’s office at any time.

Is All Dairy Bad?

Since all dairy contains some measure of lactose, no dairy product is truly safe to feed a cat. However, some may be more acceptable than pure milk. Cheese or yogurt, for example, may treat a cat’s stomach a bit better than milk. However, it’s important to keep the portion sizes very, very small and only give cats these substances as the very occasional treat.

What Liquids Does a Cat Need?

We’ve established that cats don’t need milk at all. What’s the one liquid they require for a happy, healthy life? You guessed it—water. Like any living creature, all cats need fresh water to survive. Provide your cat with a dish of cool water at all times, and check the bowl periodically to see if it needs refilled or refreshed.

Do you have further questions about your cat’s diet, health, or general care? Your Cherry Hill, NJ veterinarian is here to help. Contact the clinic today for professional assistance!

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