Cats and Dairy

Did you know that milk is not good for kitties? Despite the long-standing iconic image of a kitty lapping up fresh milk from a bowl, dairy products can make our feline friends quite sick. In this article, your local Milford vet discusses cats and dairy.

The Truth About Dairy

The reason cats and dairy don’t always mix is quite simple. To digest dairy products, an enzyme called lactase is required. Kittens produce lactase while they are nursing, but once a baby feline is weaned and stops drinking milk, her body stops making it. This is a permanent change: once a kitty stops producing lactase, she won’t start again, even after drinking milk.

Effects of Dairy

Each kitty will react differently to dairy. While some furballs might do just fine with a bit of milk now and then, others may vomit, get diarrhea, or become a bit ‘stinky’ after ingesting milk. Some kitties also develop skin problems as a reaction to dairy. If you aren’t sure whether your furry friend will be able to digest milk, you can try giving her a tiny bit, about a teaspoon, to see if she has any trouble with it. Even if your cat is able to digest dairy products, however, you’ll want to limit Fluffy’s milk consumptions. It may be fine as a rare treat, but isn’t suitable as an everyday snack.

Raw Milk

Why is there so much confusion on this topic? Before pasteurization became a common practice, the kitties that lived on dairy farms were probably given raw milk. Raw milk does contain lactase, so it’s much easier on Fluffy’s stomach. The subject of whether raw milk is good for kitties is still under debate, however, so this isn’t necessarily a good alternative.


You can find a lactose-free milk replacement made just for kitties at pet stores and many grocery stores. If your feline friend loves milk, try giving her some of this as a special treat. It’s much safer than cow’s milk, which is ideal for cows but not for kitties.

Do you have any questions about caring for your feline pal? Please contact us any time! As your local Milford veterinary clinic, we are here to provide you with excellent veterinary service, and are happy to serve all of your pet care needs.

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