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Cats, Milk, and Dairy
August 1, 2015

It would seem that cats and milk go hand in hand—you’re probably already picturing an adorable feline happily lapping up milk from a saucer. The truth, however, is that cats and milk tend not to mix! Learn more here from a Portland, OR veterinarian.

Why Can’t Cats Drink Milk?

The majority of adult cats are lactose intolerant, which means that they don’t possess enough lactase in the gut. Lactase in an enzyme that digests lactose, the primary enzyme in milk. This is the same condition that affects many humans.

Of course, just because cats shouldn’t drink milk doesn’t mean that they won’t. If a cat drinks too much milk, they’ll probably experience an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting. A tiny amount of milk may not do any harm, but too much will surely leave you with a mess on your hands.

What About Kittens?

It’s true that kittens need milk—they get it from their mother in order to receive the proper nutrients and critical antioxidants for a healthy life. The fact is, though, that this is the only time in a cat’s life that milk will be nutritionally necessary. The majority of cats start losing lactase as they grow older, becoming more and more lactose intolerant over time. By the adult stage of life, a cat will most likely be very intolerant of milk.

If you’d like more information on feeding kittens, or if you have questions about your adult cat’s diet, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian’s office.

Is Other Dairy Safe?

You may wonder about other products that contain dairy, like cheese or yogurt. Since these foods have lower levels of lactose than milk does, they may not induce vomiting or diarrhea as quickly as milk will. However, too much of any food that is foreign to a cat’s diet can present a problem. Cats are carnivores, and don’t have any real need for dairy products. You can use the tiniest snippet of cheese or a dab of yogurt as an occasional treat, but be careful not to overdo it.

Your adult cat should be receiving all the fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients he or she needs from their cat food. Check with your veterinarian in Portland, OR to make sure that your feline friend is being fed a nutritionally complete, well-balanced diet that is appropriate for their age, weight, and overall health.

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