When thinking of cats, the image which will come to many people’s mind immediately is that of a cat licking a bowl squeaky clean after a bowl of milk or trying to bite your hand off when you are making yourself a cheese sandwich. But an important question to ask yourself is:
“Can cats eat cheese and drink milk? Or is this inclusion in their diet detrimental to their health?”
We are going to digest all the information we have and give it all to you about cats and their relationship with dairy products.
In This Blog:
Do Cats Like Dairy?
Anybody who has owned cat or has been around one for a period of time knows that if a cat is eating something with cheese on, or drinking milk, they will bite your hand off if you interfere.
In fact, it is a rare instance that a cat will not show interest in milk or cheese as they are high in fat and taste especially good to them. It is like us tucking into a yummy 12-inch pizza.
Therefore, it is so understandable as to why they go as crazy for dairy as they do for catnip. They really do love their dairy and can we blame them!
Despite this love, is it beneficial and healthy for them?
How Healthy Is Dairy for Our Felines?
Funnily enough, most cats are in fact lactose intolerant, meaning their body is unable to digest lactose due to not having the correct enzymes in their digestive system to break the sugars down.
Just like their human counterparts, if they are lactose intolerant, consuming dairy products can make them sick, cause stomach pain and have diarrhoea. All of which is not good or healthy for your cats.
Despite this, it’s important to understand that it isn’t toxic to them, so it’s not a life-threatening situation if your cheeky cat jumps up and steals some cheese or steals some milk out of your bowl. However, it is not ideal for this to happen regularly.
As well as the side effects of being lactose intolerant, dairy usually contains a high amount of fat and salts which are extremely unhealthy for them. In fact, too much salt ingestion can be toxic for them. This is without taking into consideration any of the other flavourings added to the cheese like garlic or other herbs.
But what about non-dairy products? Surely this should be fine for them?
Unfortunately, the answer to this is still no! Non-dairy products can still very unsafe for them and it’s just not worth the risk to your feline friend.
Other Health Issues Due to Dairy
Like we stated earlier, dairy is full of fats. Too much fat in a cat’s diet can lead to obesity, which in turn can lead to even more health conditions such as arthritis, heart conditions, and respiratory issues.
Whilst you may think it’s just a little bit of cheese here and there, or just a bowl of milk every now and again, it all adds up over time. This slow accumulation can result in increased weight, which will increase stress on their joints and organs. On top of that, cats love dynamic movement, and the simple addition of 1-2kg can cause them to take significantly move impact on their legs when jumping.
Whilst we love treating our cats and showing them how much we love them, the best way to show them our affection is to feed them correctly and not put their health at risk.
What About Cat-Friendly Milk?
The short answer to this question is yes. But, as with all things, this should be given in moderation to prevent obesity and further health conditions.
Unlike cow milk, cat-friendly milk has a lot less lactose in it which is obviously much healthier for your feline. However, just because there is a minimum trace of lactose within this milk, doesn’t mean there isn’t fat and calories in this which can still be detrimental.
By all means give this to them as a treat, they deserve it. Like all things though, things need to be given in moderation and if they are looking a little round and chunky, it may be wise to lay off the treats and the milk for a while.
Can My Kitten Drink Cow’s Milk Instead of Their Mothers Milk?
Kittens start to slowly wean off their mum when they reach around 4 weeks old. By 8-10 weeks, they should be fully weaned and ready for the big wide world.
If you have had a litter of kittens, it may be tempting to offer them some cow’s milk as they are weaning off their mum. We strongly urge that you do not do this! It won’t be pretty or pleasant for either of you.
Like adult cats, kittens also lack the enzymes which break down the sugars and lactose in cow’s milk. By offering them cow milk, they can have diarrhoea and become dehydrated rapidly which can be fatal.
Once they have weaned off their mum, they can survive off fresh, clean water.
If you are a cat owner, you will understand that we all want what is best for our furry four-legged friends. Sometimes it may be tricky to resist the urges to treat them whilst you are in the fridge, but all you must think about is the best interest for your feline.
Afterall, they rely on us to keep them warm, safe, healthy, and happy. So, the least we can do is avoid feeding them unhealthy treats and prevent further problems.
If you want to treat your little friends, how about purchasing some Dreamies in their favourite flavour? Many owners will know just how much a cat loves getting their paws on a bag of Dreamies!