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Health & Wellness

Don’t pour your cat a bowl of milk. Here’s why

The scoop on why cats should stick to drinking water.

Whether in books or movies, we've all heard the classic tale of cats' love for a warm bowl of milk. But did you know that milk can actually make cats feel sick?

Here's why you should pause before pouring out a big bowl for your feline friend.

Are cats lactose intolerant? 

Our feline friends typically love milk, and some can tolerate the drink. However, many adult cats are lactose intolerant, Dr. Emily Singler, VMD, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. Because of that risk, Dr. Singler doesn’t recommend giving cats milk to drink. 

Cats don’t produce the enzyme necessary for digesting lactose, the sugar in milk. “Since this sugar doesn’t get broken down, bacteria in the gut consume it, which causes an upset stomach, vomiting, gas, bloating and diarrhea,” Dr. Singler shares. 

Is milk bad for cats?

Since it’s best to avoid serving cats milk, ensure yours has enough water and eats a vet-approved, balanced, commercial-food diet.

If your cat accidentally laps up a sip from your glass of milk, monitor them for sick symptoms, move the milk away and contact your vet if they have a negative reaction.

RELATED: What human foods can cats eat?

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Can kittens drink milk? 

Kittens drink milk produced by their mother or (if a vet recommends) a milk replacement created specifically for them. They're usually weaned between 7 to 8 weeks old and should only consume water after that period. 

Are milk alternatives bad for cats? 

You might be wondering if you can give your cat oat, almond or coconut alternatives instead of regular milk. It's best to avoid giving those versions to your pet, too, as they add unnecessary calories to their diet and can cause an upset stomach. 

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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