Can a Cat Drink Milk?

Can cats drink milk? This suggests an oxymoron, right?

The general mouth would answer: "Of course they can!"

I ask you to saddle your horses for a second and search further to know if a cat can drink milk or is it often more the kitten that can drink milk?


You love your cat and want to show it by treating them the best way possible.

The Myth

myth: Busted picture

It is a myth that cats like and can drink milk. We have this picture of a cat sitting happily over a half bowled plate sipping milk. This is misleading. Cats are more attracted to the cream then the liquid. They value that part for the high content part, specifically, the milk coming straight from the cow after the cream rose to the top. So, even they like milk for their taste, the next problem is cats have a delicate digestive system and have to go through a hard time when you nurture them with this liquid.

Other part is, cats while growing to full maturity losing their tolerance to lactose.

What is Lactose?

lactose, lactase, glucose, galcactose molecule
  • In short: Lactose is a disaccharide sugar composed of galactose and glucose. You find these two chemical elements in milk. More specific, you find between 2-8% of lactose in milk, which varies from milk to milk after working and treating it. Sweet or sour whey extracts the lactose.

If you separate the word lactose into its word of origin, we have two words. Lac (which stands for milk) derived from Latin. The second part –ose is the chemical term for sugars making it an isomer of sucrose.

What is Lactose Intolerance?

lactose intolerance picturre: shing a cow and different animals in a sable

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest and absorb the sugar in milk resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms when milk or milk supplemented products are being consumed. It causes problems in in the abdominal and digestion region and you feel like Jackie Chan is rumbling and fighting it.

A deficiency of the intestinal (lactase) splits lactose into two smaller sugars, glucose and galactose. It ​s​​​​​​​​​allows the intestine to absorb lactose.

We are born with lactase and the ability to split or digest lactose. So, lactase disappears, which is due to two different factors: either it is genetically programmed to further exist after childhood or it is a disease lining on the lactase.

What Causes Lactose Intolerance?

picture of a cat and a catnip full of of milk

We know that lactose is a sugar, more precise a sugar molecule (glucose and galactose). Before you can absorb the lactose from the intestine and into the body, you first have to split it into glucose and galactose. After this, the lactase enzyme splits glucose and lactose. You find this enzyme at the top or close to the surface of the small intestine.

The Cause of lactose intolerance is the reduction or entire absence of lactase that prevents the splitting of lactose.

Lactase deficiency may occur for one of three reasons.

1. Congenital

2. Secondary

3. Developmental

Congenital Cause of Lactose intolerance

It has never been in the body at the first place. Their reason being is that a mutation in the gene which is responsible for producing lactase. It is a rare cause of lactase deficiency beginning at the earliest further development of the body.

Secondary Causes of Lactose Intolerance

This kind of deficiency is due to diseases that destroy the lining of the small intestine along with the lactase. If you want to further read a disease like this click here (celiac disease).

Genetically programmed Cause of Lactose Intolerance

This is the most common cause, (which suffers the cat of), coming back to why cats should not drink milk. Here, lactase occurs after childhood (kitty’s development into a cat), and refers to an adult-type hypolactasia. It is genetically programmed. As cats grow, and are weaned from their mother they lose the ability to make lactase, the enzyme that digests milk sugar just like a lactose intolerant person. Lactose disrupts normal bacteria in the intestinal tract and can cause diarrhea, according to Dr. Farcas, a clinical nutritionist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Matthew J.Ryan Veterinary Hospital in Philadelphia.

Now you know even if we think that we do something good for the ones we love and care so dearly, it might be often cause the exact opposite!

Make sure to focus on a complete and well balanced diet for you little feline.  Additional calories that come with the intake of milk might dis-balance it. It might cause problems in general according to Dr. Faracs. Cats are small animals and do not need as much as other animals or even humans. We quickly tend to overestimate the amount of food or other intake of nourishment given.

It is always best to check beforehand what or how much to feed your friend by consulting a veterinarian first.

So, from where do we get the idea that cats can drink milk?

cat with a tail in quesion mark form

Dr. Farcas answer to the question is: She isn’t sure. "Other than during nursing, milk is not a part of the ‘evolutionary diet’ of a cat.”

To clear it all up! 

Feeding kittens cow’s milk like stated at the beginning of the article is not a good idea. The reason is:

Every species makes milk in their diversified composition. The amount of calories, fat, protein, and lactose differs, sometimes tremendously, according to Dr. Farcas.

What is your take on the article and the reasons behind why it is not a good idea to give your cat milk?

Can a cat drink milk?

Please let me read your thoughts and statements on this article by writing them in the little box below this article. I love interaction!


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