Let's debunk the myths about milk and cats. Milk is not essential for your cat, nor is it toxic in itself. However, it can be dangerous in certain situations and cause adverse effects in your pet.
The association between kittens and milk: a reality?
Breast milk is crucial for kittens until they are weaned, around their eighth week of life. It provides them with all the nutrients, vitamins and energy they need to grow. If the kitten cannot suckle her mother, she should be given bottle milk, but not ruminant milk, as it is too different from cat's milk.
Weaning should gradually include solid foods (such as kibble) from 4 weeks of age. The kitten will gradually move away from milk and onto her final diet. Her digestive system may not tolerate milk as well as before.
Is milk essential for an adult cat?
No, a cat does not need milk to live. A diet of dry food and water is sufficient. Some vets have no problem with this if the cat wants milk on a daily basis, provided it is not lactose intolerant, which is the case for more than half of all cats.
Lactose intolerance and allergies
Milk should never replace water, especially for cats intolerant or allergic to milk proteins or lactose. Allergic reactions can lead to symptoms such as diarrhoea, itching, digestive problems and vomiting. In this case, milk is harmful to your cat's health.
As your cat grows, its ability to digest lactose decreases due to a decrease in the production of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the lactose in milk.
Alternative dairy products
Lactose is less present in other dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt or cottage cheese. Nevertheless, you must be careful. A cat that produces less lactase will not necessarily tolerate these foods better, especially if it is allergic to milk proteins, which are present in all dairy products. These should be avoided at all costs.
It is not advisable to give your cat these dairy products, as they are fatty and promote weight gain, which can lead to obesity.
Your cat's taste preferences
Your cat enjoys the taste of milk and finds it refreshing. However, you should not encourage her to drink milk at the expense of water.
A conventional diet of kibble and water is best for your cat's health. Milk can promote weight gain.
Milk can be given to your cat without any problems, provided that the following points are observed:
- Make sure he is not allergic to milk proteins.
- Check that it is lactose tolerant.
- Do not exceed 40 ml per day, if tolerated.
- Never replace water with milk.
However, most cats are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk protein. This means that milk is not necessarily beneficial for your cat, who does not need it after weaning.
In addition, milk and dairy products can contribute to your cat's weight gain due to their high fat content. Instead, stick to a conventional diet of kibble and water to keep your cat healthy.