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While many of us believe that milk is every cat’s favorite, this may not be the case. Those cute pictures of cute kittens lapping up a bowl of milk may not be applicable to every cat. Why? Because as it turns out, cats cannot digest milk properly without getting sick, and some cats have it worse, as they are lactose intolerant.
The standard cow milk that we drink has way too much lactose – often too much for cats to be able to digest. To some degree, most adult mammals are all lactose intolerant, including our feline friends. The body produces an enzyme called “lactase” that can help digest the lactose that is ingested. But after weaning, which is when breast-feeding stops and food from other sources is ingested, the amount of these lactase enzymes reduces, making it difficult to digest lactose.
All these mean that cat’s bodies are biologically not equipped to be able to handle any kind of lactose. Lactose is basically sugar, and since undigested sugar attracts water in the intestine, it leads to diarrhea. Your cat may even experience flatulence and bloating as undigested sugar also gets fermented in the stomach.
Is milk nutritious for cats?
Even though milk may be healthy for humans, for cats, it does not provide any nutrition that cannot be gained from a commercial diet that is well-balanced. Milk is pretty rich in calories. A cup of whole milk contains about 149 calories, while a cup of skim milk contains around 83 calories.
So, it’s much healthier if you occasionally feed your cat some milk, instead of including it in their everyday diet. It is recommended that cats are fed just 20 to 30 calories every day apart from their usual commercial diet. This may include commercial treats or human foods which are safe for them.
If your cat takes in too much of these foods, essential nutrients from its main diet, which it needs to grow and develop can be diluted out. If it becomes a habit, it can even lead to obesity – a huge problem that pet owners and vets face today.
Will drinking milk reduce my cat’s water intake?
If you are a cat owner, you may have noticed that your pet tends to avoid water – whether it’s for a bath or for drinking. This is because unlike dogs, cats do not have the natural instinct to balance their water level, making it quite the task to get them to stay hydrated.
As a solution, vets recommend that you feed them supplemented milk or wet food as an attempt to get them to drink. For this, cows’ milk that is lactose reduced is a good option as it is almost 89 percent water. Even if you feed your cat this, always make sure there is a fresh bowl of water that is easily accessible.