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Are Cats Lactose Intolerant?

It is probably a common belief that cats love milk. As children, we read about it in storybooks or watched cartoons about it. Oh, how cats enjoy milk bowls. Cats may enjoy milk, but milk is not a good source of nutrition for them. Most cats, unfortunately, are lactose intolerant. This means their systems are unable to process lactose, resulting in digestive problems. Cats are lactose intolerant due to an inability to produce lactase, a necessary enzyme to break down lactose.  When a cat grows and changes its diet from milk to meat, its lactase production decreases.

In what ways does lactose intolerance affect cats?

When a cat consumes milk or dairy products, the lactose is not broken down and enters the bloodstream in the small intestine and stays unchanged in the large intestine. As a result, there is a build-up of bacteria, causing gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting. As pet parents, it’s possible to miss these symptoms if you have an outdoor cat. Your fur babies may love a bowl of milk, but the effects are unpleasant for both of you.

Is it okay for my kitten to drink milk?

The milk that kittens consume from their mothers is the only milk that they should consume. The lactase enzyme is naturally present in kittens, but the enzyme is slowly lost as they grow, leaving them unable to digest milk. Bottle-fed kittens in need of mother’s milk should receive kitten milk replacement formula formulated specifically for them and not standard cow’s milk. Consult with your veterinarian for advice on how to keep your kittens healthy.

As it may appear to be a great idea, it’s best to not offer milk to your cats. It’s not needful and it may just cause an upset stomach.