Is Milk Really Bad for a Cat?

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Are you wondering if is milk bad for cats? Although it is a common practice to leave milk out for stray cats, the reality is that milk is not suitable for adult cats. Like human babies, kittens derive essential nutrients by drinking milk. However, as they grow older, their tolerance to digest milk depreciates. It is primarily due to the presence of lactose in fresh milk. So, despite enjoying the taste of milk, adult cats shouldn’t be fed milk often. Continue reading this article to learn whether you should feed milk to a cat.

Is Milk Bad for a Cat?

Cats are mammals; like most baby mammals, they get nourishment from their mom’s milk as kittens. When cats are young, their bodies process cat milk without any issues. That said, kittens should only be fed either cat milk or kitten formula. Cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, and other milk alternatives do not successfully meet their nutritional requirements and can even cause diarrhea in some kittens. The Pet-Ag Kitten Milk Replacer Powder is full of probiotics, vitamins, and prebiotics, which are perfect for a kitten.

As they grow older and switch from cat milk to solid food, their tolerance for milk depreciates as they stop producing the necessary digestive enzymes. Most adult cats end up becoming lactose intolerant. Due to this issue, consuming milk can upset a cat’s stomach, leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. While some cats may tolerate tiny amounts of milk without difficulty, it is often safer to avoid giving them milk entirely to avoid potential stomach issues.

Why Do Cats Crave Milk Despite Its Digestive Issues?

For many pet owners, learning that milk is bad for their cats can be a shocking revelation, especially because cats love to drink milk. Why do cats drink milk happily despite how bad it is for them? The answer is simple. They love the taste. Furthermore, they love the high-fat content and protein-richness of milk.

While most veterinarians advise pet owners against feeding their cats milk, they recommend treating them with other dairy alternatives. For instance, you can treat your cat to small amounts of low-lactose dairy products like yogurt, hard cheeses, and cream. It is important to remember that these food items are unhealthy for cats as they do not derive any nutrients from them. So, you should only feed them these items sparingly.

How to Tell That Your Cat is Lactose Intolerant?

If your cat exhibits these symptoms right after consuming milk, it is safe to say it is lactose intolerant.

SignsWhat Do They Involve?
Upset StomachYour cat might stop eating, become uneasy, and find it difficult to relax. It might also experience constipation.
DiarrheaDiarrhea can be induced due to your cat’s inability to digest sugar and lactose. It can lead to dehydration and high heart rate.
BloatingYour cat’s stomach might look swollen and full due to excessive gas formation caused by lactose fermentation.
Excessive FlatulenceThe body’s inability to process lactose leads to excessive gas from its fermentation. It increases the rate of flatulence.


While kittens can safely consume their mother’s milk, adult cats are not so lucky. Despite loving milk taste, adult cats do not possess the enzymes to process lactose properly. Consumption of milk, especially cow’s milk, is unhealthy for cats and, in severe cases, can lead to dehydration. So, cat caretakers need to understand the potential risks of feeding cats milk and the alternative dairy products they can treat their cats.

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