A cat is a domestic specie of small carnivorous mammal with a digestive system that mainly processes meats. It belongs to the Felidae “Wildcats,” family.
Domestic cats are called house cats. They are the second most domestic pets in the United States. They act as companions for humans and can help kill rodents.
The wild cats are called “Feral cats.” There are also farm cats.
For centuries, we have been made to believe that milk, cheese, cream, and other dairy products are cats’ main diet. If you watch “Garfield, Tom and Jerry, Felix the Cat,” or any of your favorite cartoon cats on television, you see a cat drinking milk from a basin of milk or cream with so much excitement. The cat purrs when drinking the milk to show how much it loves the milk. Also, it guards it jealously not wanting anyone or anything to come close to it, or even have it. That image has already registered in your mind.
No doubt, a cat loves milk and other dairy products. But, regardless of a cat’s love for milk, is it good for its digestive system? Is it a healthy diet for cats? Does it keep the longevity you desire for your cat? Keep reading this article to find out if drinking milk is detrimental to your cat’s digestive system, the best food to feed them, and the worst foods you shouldn’t feed your cat.
Why Do Cats Like Milk So Much? Should You Treat Your Kitty?
Cats love milk because it is fattening dairy food. Milk contains high fat and protein. The presence of lactose sugar makes milk sweet, which explains their profound love for milk. Also, milk and other dairy products have a particularly strong smell which a cat finds irresistible.
It even goes beyond their love for milk. Cats also love to take yogurt, cheese, cream, and other dairy products. However, that a cat likes milk and other dairy products so much, and drinks it doesn’t mean it is supposed to or it is healthy for it.
Just like humans, we may have a liking for a particular type of food, but, because it is not healthy for us, we stay away from it. Going ahead to take the food would only result in serious health issues.
Similarly, if a cat goes ahead to eat the food it is not supposed to eat, the cat would suffer serious health issues.
For instance, since milk contains lactose, it would cause tummy upset for a cat. Cats are lactose intolerant. If a cat goes ahead to take cheese too, it would also cause tummy upset for the cat. Cheese contains ingredients like onion, garlic, chives, and spices.
Because of cats’ reluctance to try out new food, you see them still craving milk and other dairy products despite how detrimental it is to their digestive system.
Should you treat your kitty?
Yes, you can! When your cat snuggles up next to you, what it is telling you, “even though it is not a human language,” is that it wants to be pampered. Pampering your cat goes beyond scratching them between their ears or brushing their locks or using your fingers to remove its fur when it becomes matted, it can also include giving them a special kitty treat.
It is absolutely fine for your cat to enjoy a bit of those treat. Just ensure you don’t over-treat your cat. You can ration a tiny amount of cheese, bits of milk, butter, or yogurt. A small portion of dairy products shouldn’t upset your cat’s digestive system. Limit treats to 10% of your cat’s daily calories. Your cat’s treats should make up a maximum of 10% of its daily allowance. Ensure you reduce your cat’s meal proportionally after giving it a treat. You can consult your vet if unsure about the proportion.
Meanwhile, too much dairy products would upset your cat’s tummy, because, cats are lactose-intolerant. A cat’s digestive system cannot process dairy foods. It would be difficult to digest after ingesting based on the sugar it contains. It should be taken in moderation, else, your cat would start vomiting or may suffer diarrhea, or bloating. You would need to visit the veterinarians to treat your cat’s illness.
When considering the kind of “treat” to give your cat, avoid grapes, raisins, raw eggs, crunchy treats like biscuits, and ample dairy products. Also, it is best to treat your cats sporadically rather than regularly as this can lead to weight gain, or your cat turning nose up at its usual food.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Cat Cow’s Milk
Cats are carnivores. What nourishes a cat’s digestive system is meat. That means, for a cat to have a healthy reproductive system, they must eat their primary diet, which is meat. The protein from meat is responsible for a strong heart, good vision, and good health.
Milk, Cheese, or any dairy product is not a natural part of a cat’s diet. Milk is high in fat and protein. If you feed your cat cow’s milk and other dairy products like cheese made from it, it can upset your cat’s stomach.
A cat’s digestive system finds it difficult to digest dairy foods since it contains lactose. Cats are lactose intolerant. They don’t have the lactase in their intestines to digest the sugar in milk.
When your cat drinks milk, it would cause fermentation in its stomach, since, the sugar contained in dairy products is difficult to digest. It would further upset your cat’s digestive system, thereby causing health issues.
To be on the safer side, just give your cat a well-balanced diet. A dairy or lactose-free diet. If you however notice your cat has health issues like diarrhea, bloating, increased body temperature, rapid breathing, or seizures, know that it has ingested some milk. You should take them to the vet before their health gets worse.
What about kittens?
Should your kittens be fed milk? Kittens, the young ones of cats, need milk to build up their healthy body. The adult male cat is known as “Tom or Tomcat,” while the adult female cat is known as “Molly, Queen or Dam.”
Since it is natural for most mammals to drink directly after birth, kittens would drink their mother’s milk which is high in antibodies and helps to pass on some impunity to her kittens. Moreover, kittens have an enzyme in their tummies that allow them to break down lactose from their mother’s milk, which adult cats don’t have.
Once kittens are weaned off after the fourth week of birth, they begin to eat solid food and grow baby teeth. They can start enjoying treats eight weeks after birth.
Ways To Ensure Your Cat Stays Hydrated
Taking sufficient water regularly is the major way to stay hydrated. A well-balanced diet for a cat is not just your cat taking solid food, it also includes an adequate amount of water. You can give your cat clean, room temperature water in a metal or ceramic bowl of clean, instead of a plastic bowl.
It may be difficult for your cat to stay hydrated if it consumes a dry diet instead of a moisture-rich diet. Also, a very hot summer day, hot weather, or a dry environment will make your cat thirsty. If your cat does a lot of chasing, it would most likely zap its energy. Kittens for instance love to play a lot and may go on and on without taking water.
If your cat lacks hydration, it would develop diabetes and liver failure. There are ways to ensure your cat does not suffer dehydration.
Even if your cat does not feel the need to drink as much as it should, or it refuses to drink water, don’t serve it milk. You can try out some water gimmicks to encourage them to take water and stay hydrated.
Some of the gimmicks you can try include:
- A water fountain with fresh water; your cat would prefer this to water bowls.
- Have multiple water sources throughout your house. Since cats do a lot of chasing and jumping, they would most likely stumble on any of them, and be encouraged to drink water regularly.
- The water got from boiling some salt-less and oil-less chicken breast or white fish
- Oral rehydration solution
Water maintains a cat’s health and reduces any chance of disease. It controls urinary diseases, maintains proper functioning of the organ, and aids the kidneys to flush out toxins. The quantity of water your cat should take depends on its activity level, size and weight, and the weather. If your cat’s body weighs 5 pounds, it should consume at least 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water per day.
Best Drinks For Your Feline Friend
Fresh and clean water is the best drink option for your kitten or cat. You can however buy from the grocery store special cat milk with less lactose or that is lactose-free. You should serve your cat in small amounts still since milk contains high fat. It would reduce the chances of your cat falling sick after drinking the milk.
You can also serve your cat the following:
- Goat milk: Goat milk has low lactose and it is easier to digest compared to cow’s milk. You should however serve your cat in small amounts since it contains fats, even though the fat is low.
- Almond milk: Almond milk contains high calories, about 100 calories. But, it is harmless to your feline if given in small amounts. Some Almond milk is sweetened, especially the artificial ones. Avoid those as they cause tooth decay and obesity.
- Soy milk: Soy milk is a source of protein in many commercial cat foods. You can give your cat soy milk if it does not have food allergies.
- A cantaloupe: You can give your cat a bit of cantaloupe; moderation is the key word so they do not suffer health issues.
- Water with a mixture of a little tuna juice or bone broth
- Meaty flavored fluids
Avoid giving your cat any caffeinated, alcoholic, or sugary drink in high quantity.
Other Treats To Feed Your Bundle Of Fur
Apart from your cat’s main meals, you can give your cat treats packed with nutrients and highly digestible.
Raw meat treats are enjoyed by cats. You can equally cook turkey, fish, or chicken for your cat. Remove the cooked bones and trim the fat from the meat. You can serve your cat mackerel fish as treats. Mackerel aids your cat’s brain, eyesight, and joints.
Other foods you can use as treats for your cat by giving them in small amounts include:
- Broccoli floret
- Green bean
- Cooked eggs
- Fresh Pumpkin
- Sweet potatoes
You can also stop at a grocery to buy a good pack of delicious treats if you don’t want to prepare the treats yourself. Some notable cat treats in the pack are:
- Temptations Mixups Surfers’ Delight Flavour Treats for Cats
- Cataholic Neko Tuna & Chicken Cat Treat
- Sheba Melty Premium Cat Snack, Chicken & Chicken-Whitefish
- Heads Up For Tails Me-O Creamy Treats- Crab Flavour
- Kittos Cat Treat Multi Flavour Combo
Temptations Mixups Surfers’ Delight Flavour Treats for Cats
This treat is made from a mixture of different vegetarian and non-vegetarian items to nourish your cat. The dosage to serve your cat depends on the weight of your cat. Adult cats can however have up to 10 pieces of these treats.
Cataholic Neko Tuna & Chicken Cat Treat
This treat is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 and it is suitable for nearly all cats above the age of 2 months. It makes your cat’s coat healthy and shiny. If it is not exhausted after 18 months of the date of manufacture, it would expire.
Why Cats Like Cream So Much
Cats are fond of cream even though it is not a natural part of their diet. As carnivores, their primary nutrient comes from meat.
A cat’s love for cream and other dairy products is a result of the
high fat and sweeteners the dairy products contain. They enjoy cream more when it rises to the top. Cats also like the strong smell of protein and fat in the cream.
Regardless of how much cats love cream, they are not supposed to take it or any dairy products. Dairy products contain lactose, which upsets a cat’s digestive system once they ingest it. A cat is lactose intolerant and would find it difficult to digest lactose when swallowed. Indigestion would further lead to the cats’ severe vomiting and diarrhea.
If your cat is suffering from the symptoms of lactose intake, it would best you take it to the vet for treatment. It would also be nice if you stick to the cat’s natural food or occasional treats.
Image source: Purina