Why Do Cats Like Milk If They Are Lactose Intolerant?

Cats and milk – it’s a classic pairing that’s been around for ages. But did you know that most cats are lactose intolerant? That’s right, despite their love for the creamy beverage, it can actually cause them some serious digestive issues. So why do cats still go crazy for milk? We’ve got the answers.

First things first – cats aren’t biologically designed to digest milk effectively. As kittens, they can handle lactose found in their mother’s milk, but as they grow up, they typically lose this ability. So what gives? Well, it all boils down to taste and scent. Many cats simply adore the flavor of milk, and the aroma of dairy is like a siren song to their sensitive noses. Plus, cats are creatures of habit – if they’ve had milk before without any negative consequences, they’ll keep seeking it out.

But here’s the thing: too much milk or regular consumption can seriously upset your cat’s stomach and even cause diarrhea. As responsible pet owners, we need to be aware of the risks and choose alternative treats that will keep our feline friends happy and healthy. Remember – a little bit of milk won’t hurt your cat, but there are plenty of other delicious options out there that won’t cause any harm.

So next time you’re tempted to share a bowl of milk with your furry companion, think twice. Opt for some cat-safe treats instead and show your kitty how much you care about their well-being.

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a prevalent condition that affects a significant percentage of the human population. It occurs when the body is unable to break down lactose, a form of sugar found in milk and dairy products. The inability to properly digest lactose can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

However, lactose intolerance in cats is quite different from that in humans. While most adult cats are lactose intolerant and cannot digest milk products due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase responsible for breaking down lactose in their digestive system, they can still relish the taste of milk and other dairy products. Nevertheless, most experts recommend against feeding cats milk or dairy products in large quantities as they can lead to digestive upset and other health complications.

So why do cats enjoy milk despite their inability to digest it? One theory is that cats are instinctively attracted to the taste and smell of milk due to their natural inclination to seek out high-fat and protein-rich foods. Milk is a source of both fat and protein, so it’s no surprise that cats find it appealing. Additionally, cats may associate the taste and smell of milk with positive experiences, such as nursing from their mother’s milk as a source of nourishment and comfort during their early development.

It’s essential for cat owners to understand that feeding their feline friends with milk or dairy products is not necessary for their diet. Instead, a well-balanced diet that meets all of their nutritional requirements without relying on milk or dairy products is recommended. Moreover, long-term consumption of dairy products can lead to health problems such as obesity and diabetes in cats. Fortunately, there are several lactose-free cat milk alternatives available on the market that are specifically formulated for feline digestion. These products contain lower levels of lactose or are completely lactose-free, making them safe for your cat to enjoy without experiencing any adverse reactions.

Why Do Cats Like Milk?

It’s a common myth that cats should drink milk, but the truth is that most cats are lactose intolerant and can’t properly digest the lactose found in milk and other dairy products. Nonetheless, cats still seem to enjoy the taste of milk and will often seek it out. So why do cats still love milk despite the risk of digestive issues? Here are some possible reasons:

Nutrients: Milk contains fat and protein, which are essential nutrients for a cat’s diet. Cats may be drawn to the taste of milk because their bodies instinctively crave these nutrients. However, there are plenty of other foods that can provide these nutrients without the risk of digestive issues.

Comfort: As kittens, cats rely on their mother’s milk for nourishment and comfort. The taste of milk may remind adult cats of that security felt when nursing as kittens. This association can lead them to seek out milk as a way to self-soothe and feel content.

Individual Variations: Not all cats are lactose intolerant, and some may be able to tolerate small amounts of milk without any issues. However, it’s generally recommended to avoid giving cats milk or other dairy products as a regular part of their diet.

While cats may enjoy the taste of milk, it’s important to remember that it’s not necessary for their diet and can lead to digestive issues in the long run. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet specifically formulated for cats is the best way to ensure their health and well-being. Opting for lactose-free cat milk alternatives that provide all necessary nutrients without any adverse reactions is a responsible choice for cat owners.

The Dangers of Feeding Your Cat Milk

Feeding your cat milk can be more harmful than helpful. Contrary to popular belief, milk is not a natural part of a cat’s diet and can lead to various health problems.

Digestive upset is one of the most significant dangers of feeding your cat milk. Many cats are lactose intolerant, which means they lack the necessary enzyme to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This can result in vomiting and diarrhea, leaving your cat feeling uncomfortable and you with a mess to clean up.

Moreover, feeding your cat milk can cause nutritional deficiencies as it may fill them up without providing the necessary nutrients they need. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and obesity, which can increase the risk of other health issues such as diabetes and joint problems.

It’s essential to note that not all cats are lactose intolerant, but it’s better to avoid feeding them milk altogether. Instead, provide your cat with fresh water and a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs. If you want to treat your beloved kitty, try small amounts of cooked meat or specially formulated cat treats.

How to Tell if Your Cat is Lactose Intolerant

If so, they may be lactose intolerant. This common condition in cats occurs when their body cannot digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. To determine if your cat is lactose intolerant, here are five ways to tell:

Watch for Digestive Issues

The most obvious sign of lactose intolerance in cats is gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting after consuming milk or dairy products. If your cat experiences any of these symptoms, it’s essential to eliminate dairy from their diet.

Lactose Intolerance Test

A lactose intolerance test involves feeding your cat a small amount of milk and monitoring their reaction. If your cat experiences any gastrointestinal problems after consuming milk, this indicates that they are lactose intolerant.

Observe Their Behavior

While not always reliable, some cats may show signs of discomfort after consuming dairy such as excessive grooming or hiding.

Consult with Your Veterinarian

If you’re still unsure whether your cat is lactose intolerant, consult with your veterinarian who can perform a simple test to measure their lactase levels.

Err on the Side of Caution

Not all cats are lactose intolerant, but it’s always best to avoid giving them dairy products altogether. Instead, there are many cat-friendly alternatives available such as lactose-free milk or specialized cat treats designed to mimic the taste of dairy without the lactose.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Cats

While it may seem cute, it’s important to remember that cats are often lactose intolerant. This means that consuming dairy products can lead to some pretty unpleasant digestive issues.

So, what are the symptoms of lactose intolerance in cats? The signs can vary, but some common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea: This is one of the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance in cats. If your cat’s body is unable to digest lactose properly, it may result in loose stools or diarrhea.
  • Vomiting: Cats with lactose intolerance may also experience vomiting as a result of their bodies trying to expel the undigested lactose.
  • Gas and bloating: Just like humans, cats can experience gas and bloating when they consume dairy products they can’t digest properly.
  • Abdominal pain: Cats with lactose intolerance may also experience discomfort or pain in their abdominal area due to the undigested lactose.
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss: In severe cases, cats with lactose intolerance may lose their appetite or even lose weight as a result of their digestive issues.

It’s important to note that not all cats with lactose intolerance will exhibit symptoms. Some may be able to tolerate small amounts of lactose without any issues, while others may be more severely affected. Additionally, some cats may develop lactose intolerance later in life, even if they were previously able to digest dairy products without issue.

If you suspect that your furry friend may be lactose intolerant, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian. They can diagnose the condition and provide guidance on how to manage your cat’s diet to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need without exacerbating their symptoms.

Treatments for Lactose Intolerance in Cats

If you suspect that your kitty may be lactose intolerant, it’s important to seek proper treatment to avoid any digestive issues. Thankfully, there are various treatments available for lactose intolerance in cats.

The most crucial step in treating lactose intolerance in cats is to eliminate lactose from their diet. This means steering clear of foods that contain high levels of lactose, such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products. To ensure that your cat still gets all the necessary nutrients without causing any digestive problems, you can opt for commercial cat food that is specifically designed for lactose-intolerant cats.

However, if your cat just can’t resist the temptation of milk or cheese, you can provide them with lactase supplements. These supplements contain the necessary amounts of lactase that cats need to digest lactose. Before administering any supplements, it’s vital to consult a veterinarian to make sure they are safe for your cat.

It’s essential to note that in some cases, lactose intolerance in cats may be caused by an underlying health condition such as inflammatory bowel disease. In such cases, treating the underlying condition may help alleviate the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications or recommend dietary changes to manage the underlying condition.

Alternatives to Cow’s Milk for Cats

As we have previously discussed, cow’s milk is not an ideal option for cats due to their lactose intolerance. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some fantastic alternatives that your cat will love.

First on our list is goat’s milk – a popular choice among cat owners. Not only is goat’s milk lower in lactose than cow’s milk, but it also contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that can benefit your cat’s health. With a unique taste that many cats find irresistible, goat’s milk is a great way to switch things up and give your cat something new.

Another alternative to cow’s milk is non-dairy milk such as almond or coconut milk. These options are lactose-free and safe for cats to consume in moderation. However, it’s essential to avoid any flavored or sweetened varieties as they may contain harmful additives that could harm your cat.

If you’re looking for something different, bone broth might be the perfect choice for your kitty. Bone broth provides essential nutrients such as protein, collagen, and amino acids that can support your cat’s overall health. Plus, it’s easy to make at home by simmering bones in water for an extended period.


In conclusion, it’s no secret that many cats have a soft spot for milk. However, as much as we love to indulge our feline friends, it’s important to remember that most adult cats are lactose intolerant and cannot properly digest lactose found in milk products. Feeding your cat milk or dairy products regularly can cause digestive upset and lead to health complications such as obesity and diabetes.

But don’t worry – there are plenty of cat-safe alternatives available on the market that provide essential nutrients without any adverse reactions. As responsible cat owners, it’s crucial that we understand our pets’ nutritional needs and choose a well-balanced diet specifically formulated for cats. Opting for lactose-free cat milk alternatives or specialized cat treats designed to mimic the taste of dairy without the lactose is a smart choice.

If you suspect that your kitty may be lactose intolerant, keep an eye out for symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, gas and bloating, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Consulting with your veterinarian is always recommended if you notice any of these symptoms.

Remember – feeding your furry companion with milk or dairy products isn’t necessary for their diet. In fact, choosing alternative treats shows them how much you care about their well-being by keeping them happy and healthy.