Is Dairy Bad For Cats?

Do you love giving your cat a taste of your dairy products? It’s hard to resist those big, pleading eyes as they beg for a lick of milk or cheese. But before you indulge your feline friend, it’s important to know that not all cats can digest dairy properly. In fact, some may even suffer from digestive problems if they consume too much. So the question is, is dairy bad for cats?

Let’s start by exploring the topic of lactose intolerance in cats. Despite what many people believe, cats aren’t built to digest cow’s milk and many are lactose intolerant. This means that consuming dairy can lead to an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats.

But it’s not just lactose intolerance that makes dairy a less-than-ideal choice for cats. Many commercially produced dairy products contain additives and chemicals that can be harmful to our feline friends. And a diet high in dairy can also lead to obesity which can cause health problems down the line.

So while your cat may love the taste of dairy treats, it’s important to consider their health first. Luckily there are plenty of alternatives out there that can provide your cat with the nutrition they need without any of the potential risks of dairy.

In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into why dairy may not be a good choice for your cat and explore some healthy alternatives that will keep them happy and healthy. So next time you’re tempted to share your breakfast bowl with your furry companion, think twice and choose a healthier option instead.

What Is Dairy?

Dairy products are any foods made from milk produced by mammals like cows, goats, and sheep. Think milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. While these products are often consumed by humans and found in many households, cats have a different digestive system than we do.

In fact, many cats are lactose intolerant. This means they lack the necessary enzymes to break down lactose – a sugar found in milk. Consuming dairy products can result in gastrointestinal upset, causing discomfort and unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Dairy products can also be high in fat and calories, contributing to obesity and other health problems if consumed in excess. Although some cats may enjoy the taste of dairy and tolerate small amounts without issue, it’s not recommended to regularly feed them as a primary source of nutrition.

So what should you do if your furry friend loves the taste of dairy? Monitor their reaction to these treats and limit consumption if necessary. It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before adding new items to your cat’s diet.

Can Cats Digest Dairy?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Cats lack the enzyme lactase, which is essential for breaking down lactose, the sugar found in milk. Without lactase, lactose remains undigested in their digestive system, leading to a range of unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and bloating. In severe cases, these symptoms can even cause dehydration and malnutrition.

While some cats may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy without any issues, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your cat’s health. As a responsible cat owner, it’s best to avoid feeding them dairy altogether.

Potential Health Risks of Feeding Cats Dairy Products

One of the most common issues associated with feeding cats dairy products is lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products, and cats’ bodies are not equipped to digest it properly. This can result in gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort, which can be especially dangerous for young kittens and older cats.

Another potential risk of feeding cats dairy products is obesity. Dairy products are high in fat content, which can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess. This can lead to various health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues. Additionally, obesity can shorten your cat’s life span and decrease their overall quality of life.

Feeding your cat dairy products also increases the risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs). Dairy products alkalize the urine, creating an environment that is perfect for bacterial growth. UTIs can be painful and potentially life-threatening if left untreated.

While some cats may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy without any issues, it’s best to avoid them altogether. If you notice any gastrointestinal problems or other health issues after feeding your cat dairy products, it’s best to stick with their regular diet.

Signs That Your Cat May Be Lactose Intolerant

While it’s common to think that milk and dairy products are harmless and even beneficial for cats, the reality is quite different. In fact, many cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they cannot properly digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products.

So how do you know if your cat is lactose intolerant? Look out for signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain after consuming dairy products. These symptoms can occur within just a few hours of ingestion.

It’s worth noting that not all cats are lactose intolerant and some may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy without any issues. However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and avoid giving your cat milk or dairy products altogether.

If you suspect that your cat may be lactose intolerant, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. They can help you determine if your cat has an allergy or intolerance to dairy products and provide recommendations for a proper diet that meets all of their nutritional needs.

Tips For Feeding Cats Dairy Products Safely

Feeding your furry companion dairy products may seem like a fun idea, but it’s important to keep in mind that many cats are lactose intolerant. While cats adore the taste of milk, cheese, and other dairy products, these treats can also cause digestive upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. Luckily, there are ways to treat your cat with dairy products while keeping them safe and healthy.

Choose low-lactose or lactose-free options

When selecting dairy products for your cat, opt for low-lactose or lactose-free options. Lactose-free milk or yogurt, as well as small amounts of hard cheeses such as cheddar or Swiss, are great options. Avoid giving your cat large amounts of dairy products or milk as this can lead to stomach upset.

Introduce dairy products slowly

Start by introducing a teaspoon or less of dairy products and monitor your cat’s reaction. If there are no signs of digestive upset after 24 hours, you can slowly increase the amount given.

Use dairy as a treat

While dairy is undoubtedly a tasty treat for cats, it should not replace a balanced and nutritious diet specifically formulated for felines. Consider using dairy as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of their diet.

Monitor your cat’s reaction closely

It’s important to watch your cat’s reaction to dairy products. If they display any signs of digestive upset or intolerance, such as diarrhea or vomiting, stop feeding them dairy immediately and consult with your veterinarian. In some cases, cats may have an allergy to dairy or other ingredients in dairy products.

Choose high-quality options

When feeding your cat dairy products, always choose high-quality options. Avoid flavored or sweetened milk as these contain additional sugars that are not safe for cats. Look for lactose-free milk or specially formulated cat milk that is easier on your cat’s digestive system.

Alternatives to Dairy Treats for Cats

We all know that cats love treats, but not all treats are created equal. Dairy treats like milk or cheese might make your feline friend happy, but they can also lead to health issues in the long run.

There are plenty of safe and healthy alternatives to dairy treats that will make your cat purr with delight. Let’s explore some options together.

First on the list are lean meats like chicken or turkey. These protein-packed treats are a great way to reward your cat for good behavior and also provide them with essential nutrients. Just make sure to steer clear of any bones or skin that could cause digestive problems.

Next up, fresh vegetables like carrots or green beans make for low-calorie snacks that are both tasty and nutritious. Your cat will appreciate the variety in their diet and you’ll feel good knowing they’re getting the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.

For cats with a sweet tooth, fruits like blueberries or strawberries make for a delicious treat that’s also packed with antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients. Plus, who can resist watching their cat nibble on a tiny piece of fruit?

Lastly, there are commercially-available cat treats that are specifically designed for feline health. When selecting these treats, be sure to read the labels carefully and choose options made with high-quality ingredients that are free from harmful additives.

Remember, while dairy treats might seem like an easy option, they can actually be harmful to your cat’s health. By providing alternative treats that are both safe and healthy, you’ll keep your furry friend happy and healthy for years to come.


In conclusion, while it may be tempting to share your dairy products with your beloved feline, it’s crucial to understand that not all cats can digest dairy properly. Many cats suffer from lactose intolerance, which can cause stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Moreover, commercially produced dairy products often contain additives and chemicals that are harmful to our furry companions. A diet high in dairy can also lead to obesity and other health problems in the long run.

Therefore, before treating your cat with dairy snacks, consider their health first. Fortunately, there are plenty of nutritious alternatives available that don’t pose the same risks as dairy. Lean meats like chicken or turkey, fresh veggies such as carrots or green beans, fruits like blueberries or strawberries, and specially formulated cat treats are all excellent options.

If you do opt for giving your cat some dairy treats occasionally, choose low-lactose or lactose-free options and introduce them gradually. Always keep a close eye on your cat’s reaction and stop feeding them if they show any signs of digestive upset or intolerance.