Is milk bad for cats?


Quick Answer

Feeding cow's milk to adult cats can cause digestive upset. Like most mammals, cats lose the ability to digest milk after weaning. Cow's milk also has a very different nutritional profile from cat's milk, so even when it is fed to unweaned cats, it can cause health problems.

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Full Answer

Cow's milk is relatively heavy on calories and the sugar lactose. The high calorie density can cause weight gain, but more importantly, the large amounts of lactose can cause diarrhea, vomiting and bloating. These symptoms are exactly the same as in humans who are lactose intolerant. Because cat's milk has a much lower lactose content, even kittens fed cow's milk may experience these symptoms, as they do not make nearly enough digestive enzyme to fully break down all the lactose present in cow's milk. Kittens are especially prone to severe or even fatal dehydration from diarrhea, so feeding them cow's milk should be strictly avoided.

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