You’ve probably seen it in viral videos of cute animals, cartoons, or children’s books, where cats are happily (sometimes even eagerly) drinking from a bowl of milk instead of just water. Do they enjoy it as a treat? Does it give them added nutrition – is it even safe to consume, actually?
It’s not unusual for people to associate cats with milk. In fact, it’s a myth and a common stereotype that cats love drinking milk. The video below might say otherwise, but the fact remains that cats shouldn’t drink milk.
You might be wondering, “But don’t kittens have to drink milk?” Well, yes. Kittens are able to digest their mother’s milk; they need it to survive. But experts say that kittens and adult cats should not drink cow’s milk like the kind that humans drink.
Veterinarians say that even though some cats can still tolerate milk, cow’s milk just isn’t good for cats, and it is, frankly, unnecessary.
Unfortunately, cats are lactose intolerant. I think that’s enough reason to not give them milk.
To explain it more scientifically, adult cats have lactase levels that are insufficient to digest milk properly.
“Lactase is needed to break down the sugar in a mother cat’s milk to allow the young kitten to digest it properly. Kittens produce this enzyme in smaller amounts as they develop, and by six months of age, most kittens have adult levels of lactase,” Hasting Veterinary explained.
In a perfect setting, a person will never have a need to give milk to a cat. Sadly, there are many instances where a kitten needs to be hand-reared. If you find yourself needing to hand-rear a kitten, you should only give them substitute kitten milk. Vets advise people to never give cow milk or goat milk, even though goat milk is said to be the “universal milk” and is considered a safer alternative than cow milk.
Just like humans who are lactose intolerant, there are just some yummy foods that you can’t help but crave even if they’re not good for you, and the same goes for cats. So the next time you’re tempted to give your feline friends a dairy treat, make sure that it’s specifically formulated cat’s milk, or better yet, don’t give in to the temptation.
“A saucer of milk for your cat is like you eating an entire 12-inch pizza, which is too much on top of all your usual daily food and meals.”
As always, consult your local vet and not your local supermarket for other milk alternatives. If you’re looking to make some healthy homemade treats for your cats, I suggest reading this article. Watch the video below to know more about what’s bad for your cats.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.