Cats and Milk

The image of a cat lapping up a bowl of milk is very iconic, and one many of us have grown up with. Therefore, it can be surprising to find out that this cute image is actually quite misleading. Contrary to popular belief, many kitties can’t digest dairy products. Read on as an Indianapolis, IN vet discusses cats and dairy.

Kitties and Milk

As mentioned above, most cats can’t digest dairy products. This is because our feline friends stop making lactase, the enzyme needed to digest milk, when they stop nursing. Once Fluffy stops producing lactase, she’ll never start again, even if she drinks milk. Without lactase, cats have difficulty digesting milk. Fluffy may vomit, or have diarrhea. She could also get, well, a bit stinky.

Are All Cats Lactose-Intolerant?

While many of our feline friends can’t drink milk, some kitties can digest tiny amounts of it. If your furball doesn’t seem to have ill effects, you may be able to give her a small amount, no more than a few tablespoons, as a rare treat. You’ll need to watch your furry buddy closely, to watch for any signs of possible tummy upsets. Ask your vet for specific advice.


Even if Fluffy doesn’t seem to have problems with milk, it really isn’t the greatest treat for her. Offer your furry pal a more suitable snack, such as the occasional can of tuna; some plain, cooked, boneless chicken; or a bit of deli meat. Or, look in pet stores or grocery stores for cat milk. This is made just for kitties, and is safe for your furball to have. Better yet, use toys and praise to pamper your adorable pet, rather than food.

Raw Milk

Raw milk does contain lactase. This may have contributed to the misunderstandings about cats and milk. Kitties are often very welcome on farms, as they help keep vermin numbers down. Fluffy may very well have been given bowls of raw milk, straight from the cow, as a reward for her hunting efforts. However, that doesn’t mean that raw milk is a safe or suitable option for your furry pal. Ask your vet for more information.

Do you have any questions or concerns about your kitty’s health? Does Fluffy need shots or an exam? We are here to serve all your kitty’s veterinary care needs! Call us, your Indianapolis, IN animal clinic, anytime.

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