Are Cats Lactose Intolerant? – What to Do If Your Cat Drinks Milk


Most cats love to drink milk and eat dairy products. However, may cats cannot tolerate milk in their tummies, which causes them to become sick.

Many cats above 3 months of age are lactose intolerant. However, some can tolerate lactose as well. To check if your cat is lactose intolerant, simply feed it 1 tbsp milk and check for any symptoms in the next 24 hours.

Let’s look at what the symptoms are; and the relation of milk with cats below.

Can Cats Drink Milk?

Many cats have an issue with milk. While they may love to drink it, milk causes digestive issues in many cats.

The reason for this is lactose, the sugar that’s found in milk. Adult cats lose the ability to digest lactose, which causes problems like diarrhea or vomiting.

Interestingly, kittens up to 2 or 3 months of age can digest lactose just fine. That’s why they can digest their mother’s milk. Around the time they are weaned and start eating solid food, many cats lose this ability.

That said, I have personally seen quite a few cats that drink milk every day without any apparent health issues.

Can Cats eat Cheese, Ice Cream or Yoghurt?

No, cats should never be fed cheese, Ice Cream or most types of yoghurt. Apart from lactose, they contain a lot of sugar, flavouring or other additives that have no place in a cat’s diet.

However, if you want to provide a varied diet to your cat, you can give it 1 tablespoon of keffir yoghurt. Even lactose intolerant cats can have a small amount of it weekly.

Is My Cat Lactose Intolerant?

You can test if your cat is lactose intolerant by simply giving it 1 tablespoon of milk to drink. If it doesn’t suffer from diarrhea, lethargy or vomiting within the next 24 hours, try increasing the milk quantity to 2 or 3 tablespoons.

If there are still no symptoms within 24 hours, your cat is probably not lactose intolerant, and can be given milk as a treat once in a while.

You should know that there is nothing wrong with lactose intolerance in cats. It’s just the way they are. Cats past their weaning stage don’t need milk in their diet anyway.

What to Do if Your Lactose Intolerant Cat Drinks Milk

The good news is that lactose doesn’t stay in the body for long. If it can’t be digested, it will be removed through excretion. So if your lactose intolerant cat drinks milk or any dairy product, all you need to do is wait for 24 hours. The lactose will be removed from the body by then.

Continue feeding your cat healthy food like meats or a high quality kibble during this period.

Also, keep your cat confined within a room or a partition of some sort. It won’t be able to control itself and can vomit or defecate anywhere; dirtying things you wouldn’t want to get dirty.

What Can Cats Drink Besides Water?

Besides water, you can boil meat and give the water to your cat. Just remember to let it cool down to room temperature first!

Apart from this, you can also give your cat a whole egg or just the yolk once in a while. Never give your cat just the egg whites without the yolk. I’ve included eggs in this section because eggs are mostly made up of water.

Lactose free milk specially made for cats is also available at major pet stores. This can be fed to lactose intolerant cats as well.

Syed Baseeruddin Hyder

I’ve been keeping fish and invertebrates in aquariums for over 5 years. Over the years, I’ve kept more than 15 different species of fish and invertebrates. Through ParadiseInATank.com, I hope to guide new and experienced fish keepers alike with as detailed information as I can get.

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