You’ve seen countless TV shows, movies and pictures with cats enjoying a bowl of milk. Have you ever thought about whether milk is actually a good thing for cats to drink? Are you really doing that stray cat a favor by placing a saucer of milk out on your back porch for her? The answer may surprise you.
Most Cats Are Lactose Intolerant
Cow’s milk is actually not a good choice for cats and is certainly not to be used as a water replacement. Once kittens are weaned they actually become lactose intolerant. Their bodies no longer produce an adequate amount of the lactase enzyme that’s crucial for digesting lactose. If you feed milk to your cat it could result in diarrhea.
The milk kittens receive from the mother while nursing, or replacement formula that orphaned kittens are fed is not the same as cow’s milk. The milk that kittens thrive on is higher in protein and arachidonic acid.
If you’ve given a little milk as a treat to your cat and she hasn’t had any digestive trouble as a result, then offering a small amount now and then is ok, but limit the quantity and frequency.
Milk Should Never Replace Water
Milk is never to be used as a replacement for water. Offering your cat milk instead of water will result in dehydration. Make sure your cat always have a supply of clean, fresh water.
Need More Information?
If you have any questions about whether it’s ok to offer your cat the occasional milk treat, contact your veterinarian. For more information on cat health, behavior and training, refer to any of Pam’s books. If you’re experiencing a cat behavior problem or cat training issue and would like a consultation with cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC, contact our office for more information.
Pam Johnson-Bennett is the star of Psycho Kitty airing on Discovery UK. She is author of seven best-selling books on cat behavior including Think Like a Cat: how to raise a well-adjusted cat – not a sour puss. Think Like a Cat has become known as the cat bible. Pam is considered a pioneer in the field of cat behavior consulting. In addition to her television series and public speaking engagements, Pam owns Cat Behavior Associates, a private veterinarian-referred behavior company in Nashville, TN. Cat Behavior Associates offers private cat behavior appointments on a limited basis. Pam Johnson-Bennett is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant.