Why Milk Is Bad For Cats

You may be surprised to learn that milk is bad for your cat. Sure, we’ve all seen the photos and videos of cats happily lapping up milk. But the truth is, most cats can’t digest milk at all.

Milk Is Bad for Most Cats

Most cats are lactose intolerant, like many humans. This means that they don’t have the enzymes needed to digest the lactose in milk. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk. When cats drink cow’s milk, they can end up with painful stomach cramps and diarrhea. This is because undigested lactose will stay in their intestines, rather than passing into the bloodstream, and end up fermenting because of bacteria. This leads to a whole array of stomach problems that often appear within 8 to 12 hours of drinking the milk.

Not all cats are lactose intolerant, but most are. And there’s no way to tell if your cat’s intolerant or not without giving her milk and risking her getting sick. So to be on the safe side, stay away from milk.

Why Is the Myth That Cats Like Milk So Popular?


(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

Cats love cream. When milk was gotten straight from the cow at home, the fattier cream rose to the top. Cats absolutely loved it. Now, most milk doesn’t have that much fat for cats to enjoy anyway. But even cats that lap up fatty cream still have to deal with upset stomachs afterward. It’s best to keep cats away from cow milk in general.

When Kittens Can Drink Milk

Kittens can typically digest milk until they’ve been weaned. Around eight weeks of age, kittens lose the lactase enzyme that digests lactose in milk. But even before that, cow’s milk isn’t a great option for a kitten. This is especially true if you’re raising a kitten that hasn’t been weaned yet! Instead of using milk, purchase a mother’s milk replacer or kitten formula from your pet store, which has all the nutrients a kitten needs.

Alternatives to Milk

As “boring” as it may sound, water is really the best alternative to milk. Cats typically don’t get enough water in their diet anyway, since they don’t always get thirsty when they should. If you want to make the water a little more “fun,” consider buying a drinking fountain for your cat. These miniature fountains are simple to set up – you typically just plug them in. Then they provide moving water for your cat to drink, which she may actually prefer.

If you really want to provide a liquid treat, you can buy lactose-free milk at the pet store or even your local grocery store. This milk has the lactose removed by adding lactase enzymes that break the sugar down. This means that lactose-free milk is safe for lactose-intolerant cats and humans to drink.

  • Bill Pickersgill

    It’s “not” true that cat’s” don’t” like milk , all you need to give a cat is fish [ tuna] dark and milk . The milk has to be [ whole and room temperature] . There is no truth out there” today” in any subject as a great man of God predicted for our” modern” times Isa 59 : 15 [Niv] bible . everyone tries to suppresses the truth, Rom 1 : 1 [Niv] bible . unbelievable . Cat food as well as dog food is horrific, full of cancer causing chemicals , that’s why cancer in dogs and cat’s is epidemic .
    I ask you what did they eat before roughly 1970 ?, there was no pet food , pet’s ate what the people ate , pure and simple . And cancer was unheard of before the inception of pet foods .
    You can tell the health of a pet by it’s coat does it shine , if it’s getting the proper nutrients especially fat [ saturated] . They need whole milk, eggs, butter , they produce their own Vit C so they do not need fruits and Veg .
    And another sign their not getting the proper nutrients is are they shedding a lot especially in the” winter , they should be keeping their coat not shed it .
    All felines love milk tigers, cat’s etc . The calcium is very important , study’s have shown animals are less canabalistic when they get” enough” calcium . Dog and cat food is devoid of calcium .
    It’s not a myth that cat’s like milk, they love and need it , don’t listen to what this women wrote it’s a big lie .
    Remember what you don’t know will destroy you and your pet Hos 4 : 6 [ Niv] bible .

  • Laura O.

    condensed milk is highly sugared; I would NOT give it or any other sugared item to my cat because the sugar is just promoting dental disease (a big problem in cats) and could end up costing her a lot more in vet bills and in pain to her cat

  • Laura O.

    For your cat’s hairball issue, try some Petromalt
    (available at PetSmart or amazon.com) or any other petroleum based cat hairball
    treatment (I’ve heard that petroleum jelly work too, but check with your vet
    first). Also, brushing your cat regularly will, of
    course, help, too. Cats can easily
    become constipated from an excessive amount of hair in their intestines.


    • JoAnne Klein

      I’ve tried for YEARS to get one of my kitties to take Petromalt and/or other like products. No matter how I try to get him to take it “in”, he’s perfected a way to shake it off from any part of his body and it usually lands on ME… yuck – sticky mess. Any other suggestions are welcome.