Can Cats Drink Milk?

Can Cats Drink Milk?


You’ve seen it your whole life in many forms, a big fat snuggly tabby lapping some cream out of a saucer as it purrs. It almost seems common knowledge that cats could drink milk. Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that our feline friends need to drink milk. It’s been shown in ads, on tv, in books, and even makes a cameo in our childhood stories. So the myth persists, but before you splash little of the creamy white stuff in the bowl, read a little more about why this is bad for your kitty friend.

Cat Drinking Milk


Cats are lactose intolerant


Kittens will ingest milk from their mother while they are nursing, but are usually eating only solid food by 8 weeks old. After they have weaned, most cats lose their ability to digest lactose, like lactose intolerant humans. Some cats may be able to digest milk into adulthood, but many are unable to and it can lead to gastrointestinal distress such as gas, diarrhea, and vomiting. Your princess Persian might be embarrassed if she has to endure another bath. So skipping dairy could save you some discourse in your relationship.


Are there any other options?


Other lactose free milks or cow milk alternatives such as Soy milk are not recommended either, as they could also cause make your pet ill. There are also some pet foods that have milk incorporated into them. In general it may be best to avoid these as well. Even splashing a little milk on top of their food could upset their stomach. So as much as we enjoy the allure of our creamy dairy delights, our feline friends would rather have something meat flavored.


Milk is fattening


Milk is high in fat content and calories. Full fat milk can be around 150 calories per cup! An average human is thought to need about 2,000 or so calories a day, while your average house cat needs two hundred or so per day. Another way to look at it is that one saucer of milk to a cat is equal to a whole twelve inch pizza for a human. Then there’s the high fat content of the milk as well. Milk is not a balanced substitute for a meal for our felines.


My cat craves milk


Like us, cat can associate tastes and smells with positive memories. This could be why your kitty may crave milk, but there is no need. Cats are carnivores, meaning their diet consists of primarily meat. Hunting is part of their instinct, which is why you may have come across a few dead mice “presents” in the past. In general cats need a diet higher in protein, lower in carbs, with moderate fat content. The best place for more advice on your cat’s nutrition is your veterinarian. Pets with health issues may a special food with a different balance of nutrients, but these are generally prescribed by your veterinarian in these unique cases.


What should my cat drink?


Water is best for your cat. In fact many cats don’t drink enough water. Keeping a fresh water source available is recommended. If your pet is not a big drinker you can use wet food or add a little water to their hard food to get more water content into their diet. If your cat prefers dripping or fresh running water to the stuff that’s been sitting in the bowl all day, there are pet water fountains available with replaceable filters.


Also some cats are picky about their whiskers touching the sides of the bowl, so using a wider flatter dish such as a saucer or deep plate may give them so more comfort. Also the material that the bowl is made up of could also be a factor. The most common materials are ceramic, glass, and stainless steel. Vessels manufactured outside of the US may have a chance of having lead or other materials in them. Consider checking the country of origin of your product before purchasing. You may have to try a few options to see what your feline likes best. Also the different material may affect the taste of the water. Some cats can be sensitive to changes in flavor.


Cats prefer to have their food and water bowls away from their litter box. None of us want to eat in the bathroom! They also prefer to have their food and water bowls separate as well. The thought is, that in the wild they tend to hunt away from their water source. Many felines also like to eat, drink, and eliminate in quiet low traffic areas of your home. If you have more than one cat you may need additional water bowls available. Once you’ve picked the spot best for your and your pet, keep them there. Changing up the location regularly could confuse them.





There is no true need for your feline friend to drink milk and it could even cause discomfort. So next time save the cream for your cup of coffee. If you find your pet’s appetite to be changing or see them becoming picky it may be time to visit your veterinarian. Also anytime your cat’s weight is noticeably going up or down they should be seen. Keep the water fresh and give them lots of love and they will thank you.