Can Cats Drink Milk?

Can Cats Drink Milk?

Kittens drink milk, but as they grow into adults, can cats continue drinking milk? They’re drawn to the creamy liquid, but only some cats can drink and digest milk.   

What may seem like a harmless treat can cause gastrointestinal distress for your feline companion. Our experts explain why cats crave milk and how to safely feed it to them to avoid digestive upset.   

When Do Kittens Stop Drinking Milk?

Kittens drink their mother’s milk until the mother gradually weans them as early as 4 weeks old. Typically, kittens are eating solid foods by 8 to 10 weeks old. Although kittens can drink their mother’s milk, many cats lose the ability to process it after being weaned. According to Purina Senior Nutritionist Jan Dempsey, “Cats generally lose their ability to digest the sugar found in milk after weaning because solid food takes its place and they no longer need this ability. This varies, however, and some cats can digest milk sugar into adulthood and maybe for life.” 

Is Milk Healthy for Cats?

When you think of giving cats milk, you’re probably thinking of cow’s milk. This type of milk isn’t healthy for most cats, especially if it’s taking the place of a balanced meal. “Consuming cow’s milk alone won’t supply all the essential nutrients needed to support your cat’s health,” Dempsey says.    

Whole, two percent and skim cow’s milk can also add unhealthy amounts of fat to your cat's diet. According to Dempsey, “Too much fat can promote weight gain and contribute to an upset stomach.” Purina nutritionist Lori Mintle adds, “Loose stool can indicate lactose intolerance in your cat."  

What Do Cats Drink Instead of Milk?

All animals need water, including your cat. Since cats don’t always drink enough water, they may get dehydrated. If that’s the case with your cat, adding a wet food to her diet can contribute to her daily total water intake. Some cats prefer moving water rather than drinking from a bowl, so using a cat fountain may encourage her to drink more.  

Why Do Adult Cats Crave Milk?

Even though your cat is grown, she may still crave milk. Like people, cats associate certain flavors and scents with positive memories, so milk is like comfort food for them. Although your cat shouldn't drink milk for a meal, you can satisfy her cravings with foods prepared with it as an ingredient.   

Can I Pour Milk on My Cat's Favorite Food?

No. It may seem like a good idea, but this may cause GI problems. “In addition to possible GI problems,” Dempsey says, “pouring milk on your cat’s food may encourage her to fill up on milk alone and not enough solid food to meet her nutrient needs.”  

How Can I Give My Cat Milk Safely?

Our experts recommend foods like Fancy Feast Creamy Delights, which contains a touch of milk to satisfy your cat’s cravings without causing digestive upset. This allows your cat to enjoy the creamy flavors while getting complete and balanced nutrition. 

By following our experts’ advice, you can keep your cat happy and healthy. Explore our complete list of cat food and treats to find the ideal products for your kitty. For more expert advice, tips and answers to all your pressing feline-related questions, click here.

Print Icon
Print
Email Icon
Email
Product Selector Hero
FIND THE RIGHT PRODUCT FOR YOUR CAT

Purina offers formulas designed for your cat's unique needs and products that fit within your lifestyle. We'll help you find the perfect match.