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When it comes to treating our cats, milk is the better option for most people. But cats have lactose intolerance which can cause tummy issues and diarrhea. Some cats may be able to digest milk while for others it can be a problem. The percentage of cats who can tolerate milk is very low, especially for grown cats. Therefore, you should be careful when feeding milk to your cat to avoid severe complications. To be sure of how your cat’s body reacts to milk, give two teaspoons of milk to your cat. Observe your cat for 12 hours to check for stomach problems or diarrhea. If your cat develops diarrhea or loses appetite, call the veterinary immediately. Diarrhea can dehydrate the cat and any other sort of illness can progress quickly.

What Makes Milk a Problem for cats?

During the nursing period, the body of a kitten produces a high level of an enzyme called lactase which breaks down the lactose sugar in their mother’s milk. As the cat grows older, its ability to digest any type of milk diminishes due to a decrease in the production of lactase.

So, when you feed your cat dairy milk, the lactose sugar remains in its system leading to fermentation of bacteria in its body. These fermented bacteria are what causes intestinal cramps and diarrhea. However, the amount of lactose varies from one dairy product to another. Regular milk has the highest amount of lactose while other dairy by-products have less.

Most Common Myth: Does Milk Cause Worms

There are so many myths regarding milk feeding your cat, but one of these myths keeps on popping on the internet every now and then. Cats owners constantly ask if their cats will have worms from drinking milk. Many vets have rebuked this claim saying that there is no truth to such claims. Kittens can get worms from drinking their mother’s milk if she is contaminated with worm larvae from lack of deworming prior to the pregnancy. If possible have the cat dewormed regularly.

Alternatives to Milk

While feeding milk to your cat is perceived to be a good thing, water is really the best alternative to milk. Cat’s diet doesn’t have enough water and rarely do they get thirsty. Water helps with cat’s digestive system thus preventing constipation. If you want your cat to take lots of water every day, you can bottle feed it which might turn out to be fun. Also, if your cat is lactose intolerant but enjoys milk, you can opt for low lactose drinks. Plain yogurt really works better because it contains less lactose and your cat may tolerate it. Lactose-free milk from the store also works well since the lactose in it has been removed and replaced with lactase enzyme that helps in breaking down the sugar.

Is Soy Milk Safe for Cats?

People often ask this question but the answer is no because of the following reasons:

  • Just like cow’s milk, some cats are allergic to soy protein due to stomach problems and itching.
  • Soy milk is loaded with sugar to improve the taste which is okay for human, but not ideal for your cat.
  • There are some products in soy such as isoflavones and phytoestrogens that might disrupt your cat’s hormones if fed in large quantities.
  • Soy isn’t a part of the cat’s carnivorous diet. Moreover, nut milk from almond can as well cause diarrhea and stomach upset in cats. But if you have been feeding your cat soy or almond milk and there are no negative side effects, then don’t panic. Some cats can have them in small amount although it’s better you consult your veterinary.


The question of whether milk is good for cats can vary depending on your cat. You can only be sure of this if you test your cat’s tolerance to milk. Remember cats don’t gain anything nutritionally from milk that isn’t present in a well-balanced commercial diet. If you’re feeding your cat human food or commercial treat, let it not exceed 20 to 30 calories a day. The issues of obesity in our cats have risen over the years due to overfeeding them with too many calories. Even though your cat can tolerate milk, feed it as a treat once in a while. Ultimately, some cats will tolerate milk just like a human without a problem. If this is the case, only and only then can you say that milk is good for your cat. Otherwise, don’t assume all cats are the same, and that includes their digestive system. “

All images by Pixabay


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