The fact that a cat can drink milk (cow’s milk) is such a stubborn idea that it has probably been around since the home movies. In this kind of film, a hot world was always shown on a beautiful farm, where cute cats or kittens shaved their bowl of cow’s milk.
If you offer your cat milk, it won’t despise it either, but milk just smells too tasty. However, cow’s milk is not a suitable food for a cat.
Can my cat drink milk?
It depends on the milk. The kittens receive breast milk rich in nutrition from their mother in the first four weeks after birth. Only the milk of the cat mama has the optimal nutrient composition for the kittens and can be digested by the cat children. After these first four weeks they are weaned again and get their first protein food in the form of meat.
Lactose intolerance in humans and animals
In the case of cow’s milk, which is the problem, lactose is the problem. This problem is not only for our cats, but also for people with lactose intolerance.
In order to digest the lactose, lactose, the enzyme lactase is needed, which breaks down the lactose into galactose and glucose. These components can then be absorbed by the intestinal mucosa. In people who have lactose intolerance, this is usually a genetic problem. Since we humans have been breeding for thousands of years and of course drinking and processing the milk of cows, lactose is usually not a problem for us.
In animals and so on our cats, the enzyme is broken down from breast milk after weaning, so that they can no longer digest cow’s milk with lactose. The problems our cats have after drinking milk are not dissimilar to that of a person with lactose intolerance. This can be nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Why are farm cats allowed to drink milk?
The explanation is relatively simple. Farm cats are mainly kept to catch mice and rats. Since milk is usually sufficiently available, the cats get a milk ration daily and thus the lactase enzyme in these cats in the intestine is not broken down, so that they can continue to digest the milk.
Can my cat get nothing from milk?
However, cats may also get dairy products. You can give you either a lactose-free milk or a special cat milk, but only as a treat and not as a water substitute. In cat milk, vitamins, calcium and taurine are also usually added.
What you can also give is cheese and yoghurt. But also here only as a treat and not as normal food. Also particularly recommended is natural yoghurt or cottage cheese, which can also help with digestive problems.
Normal milk is taboo in cats when they do not live on a farm. Otherwise, they react similarly to a person with lactose intolerance with abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Occasionally a piece of cheese or a spoonful of natural yoghurt is no problem for the little treats. You can also give lactose-free milk or a special cat milk. But here, too, it makes the amount, because milk has a high fat content and is therefore a real calorie bomb. Caution should be exercised in cats that already have a weight problem anyway.