Reasons why cow milk is not ideal for cats and kittens to drink

Quina Baterna

We've all watched those cartoon series wherein someone rescues a kitten and gives it a bowl of warm milk. While it makes for a cute photo op with little droplets of milk on their faces, cow's milk is not actually good for kittens. Here's why.
Cat Drinking Milk from GlassPhoto by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Most domestic felines are lactose intolerant

According to PDSA, most cats (and kittens) are actually lactose intolerant. Because our domesticated feline friends don't have the intestinal enzyme lactase, they aren't able to digest the sugar in the milk called lactose.

For this reason, milk which contains lactose can cause a variety of side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ache. In fact, these are very similar to human beings who have lactose intolerance as well.

While not always lethal, these side effects can lead to anything from general discomfort to dehydration. Aside from this, there are other reasons why cow milk isn't healthy even for non-lactose intolerant felines.

Cow's milk are full of fat

Aside from lactose intolerance, cow's milk are also full of fat. While this can mean that cats and kittens can love the taste, it's not exactly great for their overall diet. Eating food too high in fact can lead to obesity, which can cause a range of other illnesses that can inhibit a good quality of life.

Obese cats are at higher risk for many diseases. Aside from mild illnesses such as dandruff, skin disease, slowness, and general lethargy, obesity in domestic cats can also lead to diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, and even cancer.

Cow's milk alternatives

If you wonder what is a better alternative for cow's milk is for your cat or kitten, there are plenty. However, it's important to remember that in just a few weeks, adult cats will enjoy the same, if not more, benefits to having a balance meal and water.

As for kittens, many veterinarian clinics and pet shops will sell milk replacement formulas that are safer and more nutritionally balanced than cow's milk.

Keep your kitten or cat away from cow's milk

In general, cow's milk just isn't worth feeding to your feline friend. To avoid all the unnecessary side effects, it's better to just go to the vet or pet shop and get kitten formula instead.

As for older cats, cow's milk (or any milk) has little to no benefit for them. Knowing this, it's better to invest in a balanced diet of kibble, wet food, and other nutritional supplements depending on their individual needs.

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Quina is a writer, cat mom and artist. Her greatest joys in life are creating remarkable experiences and writing about them.


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