Can cats drink milk?

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¿Cats can drink cow's milk? ¿Is it good for them or, on the contrary, is it harmful? Without a doubt, these are some of the first questions that come to mind when we decide to adopt a cat, regardless of how old it is. And is that, ¿How many times have we seen beautiful cats enjoying a good bowl of milk on television or on the big screen? Well, in this AnimalWised article we will talk about the animal's digestive system, we will detail those cases in which it is possible to offer this food, how to do it and what type is more suitable.. ¿Cats can drink milk? ¡Keep reading and discover the answer!

You may also be interested in: Can dogs drink milk? Index
  1. Milk and cats
  2. So can little cats drink milk?
  3. And adult cats, can they drink cow's milk?
  4. How to give milk to a cat
  5. And the products derived from milk?

Milk and cats

Before indicating whether milk is good for cats or not, it is essential to talk about their digestive system and how the feline digests this food. As with us humans, the digestive tract is constantly changing, modifying the production of certain enzymes depending on the diet that is followed, the amount of protein that is ingested, fats, sugars, etc. In this way, it is logical that these changes are also subject to the different stages of growth. In this sense, during the lactation period, infants produce a large amount of the enzyme lactase, responsible for digesting the lactose that makes up milk. As weaning progresses and milk intake is reduced, the puppy's digestive tract also decreases lactase production, in some cases developing lactose intolerance..

This same process can also happen in humans, which is why the percentage of lactose intolerance is so high. However, as we have pointed out, not all cats are affected in such a radical way the production of the enzyme and, therefore, some of them have the ability to tolerate milk during adulthood. Especially those cats that continue to drink cow's milk after weaning tend to continue to generate lactase. However, although they have the ability to digest lactose correctly, it should be noted that milk should not occupy the entire diet of the cat, later we will detail how to offer this food correctly. As the puppy grows, it is crucial to adapt its diet to introduce new nutrients, proteins, vitamins, etc., necessary for its proper development.

On the other hand, although the production of the lactase enzyme decreases, if the feline continues to generate a small amount, it is possible that it can tolerate milk, also, in small quantities. Likewise, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, as they contain a lower amount of lactose, can also be digestible by the animal in moderate amounts..

So can little cats drink milk?

If with small cats we refer to newborn puppies, the ideal is that they are fed by mother's milk. If, unfortunately, you are caring for an orphaned kitten, we do not recommend giving cow's milk because the composition is different from mother's milk and, therefore, the animal would not be receiving the nutrients, lipids and proteins it needs. Currently we can have preparations that simulate the cat's mother's milk, so in these cases we advise going to the vet to indicate the best one according to the child's age. Also, do not miss our article on "¿How to feed a newborn kitten? ".

Now, if the cat in question is still a puppy but has already been weaned, we can offer small amounts of milk to see if its body is digesting it correctly. If it does not present any problem, we can say that the small cat can drink milk from time to time, always as a complement and never as the main ingredient..

And adult cats, can they drink cow's milk?

As we have seen previously, most cats tend to progressively reduce lactase production after weaning. This means that due to enzyme deficiency or complete disappearance, many of them may develop lactose intolerance. ¿Why it happens? Very easy. The sugar that makes up milk, made up of glucose and galactose, is known as lactose. To digest it, the body naturally produces the enzyme lactase in the small intestine, which is responsible for breaking it down to transform it into simple sugars and, therefore, facilitate its absorption. When the enzyme cannot fulfill its function, the lactose passes into the large intestine without being digested, and is fermented at this point by the bacterial flora, developing a whole series of digestive problems. In this way, symptoms of lactose intolerance in cats are as follows:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gases
  • Swelling of the abdominal area

Therefore, if after offering cow's milk to your adult cat you observe these symptoms, it is most likely an intolerance and, therefore, you should eliminate lactose from its diet. On the other hand, there is the lactose allergy, a completely different pathology from the previous one. While intolerance affects the digestive system, allergy involves the immune system, since this system develops hypersensitivity and emits an allergic reaction when it perceives 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 hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Stomach pain that can lead to sudden meowing

If your feline suffers any of these reactions, do not hesitate and go to the vet immediately, especially if you notice that he is not breathing properly.

By last, the animal may not develop either case above 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 supplement. For this, we recommend providing a little milk and observing the animal to see if it really can take it from time to time or, on the contrary, it should be completely eliminated from its diet. In the end, the most important thing is always to know our cat to understand him and learn to offer him the best for him and his health.

How to give milk to a cat

As we have seen throughout the previous sections, if it seems that the cat does not suffer from any intolerance or allergy to lactose, we can offer it some milk. In general, it is usually best to provide skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, although some cats tolerate whole milk without any difficulty. For this reason, we encourage you to try and observe your furry companion to see how he reacts and discover what type of milk he likes and feels better..

On the other hand, if your feline has shown signs of intolerance but you would like to know if your cat can drink milk anyway, you should know that the best option is lactose-free milk, both for these cases and for the animals that do tolerate it. As with humans, lactose-free milk is easier to digest and, therefore, prevents the appearance of problems related to the digestive tract.

Regarding the amount of milk recommended for cats, the truth is that we cannot establish a certain number of milliliters because, as we have verified, everything will depend on each case and the degree of tolerance of the animal. What we can assure you is that, regardless of whether it has the ability to digest lactose or not, it is not recommended to abuse its consumption. An excess of milk in the diet can translate into a too high percentage of calcium, a fact that can lead to the development of kidney stones, for example. In this way, we advise establishing a pattern based on the needs of our feline and offering milk twice a week, in small bowls. Of course, we emphasize, the measures and doses can vary as long as it does not harm the health of the animal.

And the products derived from milk?

As we have discussed in previous sections, if there is no allergy or lactose intolerance, the cat can consume dairy products such as cheese or yogurt without problems. Of course, as with all processed foods, we must always keep the amounts in mind. In this sense, and although they are good for the animal, it is not advisable to abuse their consumption, being the ideal to offer a couple of tablespoons of yogurt during breakfast, for example, or a piece of cheese as a reward. Of course, yogurt must be natural and unsweetened, and the cheese is recommended to be smooth and creamy. Likewise, you can alternate the consumption of lactose-free milk with the intake of this type of dairy product to avoid offering both foods on the same day.

In fact, yogurt in particular is a highly beneficial food for cats because of its high content of probiotics. In this sense, another product recommended for the same reason is kefir, which has an even higher percentage and helps the animal even more to regulate the intestinal flora, as well as the digestive system in general. Of course, we repeat, we do not advise spending the two weekly doses, since these products should always act as a supplement.

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