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Ask A Vet: Is It Safe To Give My Cat Milk?

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Cats seem to love milk. Art and history frequently depict cats with bowls of milk. We love to make our cats happy and give them things that they like, but is milk good for your cat? It is important to think about who your cat is and what milk is.

Milk (in this case usually cow’s milk) is a substance produced by the mother cow to sustain her offspring, a calf. Cattle are herbivores. Their systems are designed to thrive on grasses and plants. It stands to reason that a mother cow’s body would produce a milk that is designed and evolved to help her herbivore calf to flourish and grow. It has the optimum ingredients to do just that, help a baby herbivore thrive.

Your cat is an obligate carnivore, which means that her body has digestive enzymes evolved to digest meat-based nutrients. This could not be further from the dietary needs and evolution of a cow. Your cat is not a baby and she is not an herbivore, so if you think about it in these terms, you might surmise that cats really don’t need cow’s milk. And you would be right.

Cats do not need to have milk as a part of their diet. In fact, it might cause some digestive upset in cats. Many cats get milk on a regular basis and suffer no ill effects, but if you choose to give your cat milk, do so as a treat and don’t depend on the milk as a dietary staple for cats.

Also, since obesity is a growing problem in companion pets, be certain that if you choose to offer milk, you have accounted for the calories in it and offset those extra calories with exercise or reduction in the other treats you offer.

Remember, other foods are more ideal for your little hyper-carnivore, so if you must give milk, keep it to a minimum so that you are not displacing more valuable nutrients, causing GI upset or contributing to obesity for your cat., Although it might not be as convenient since you already have milk handy, it would be a better option if you could find a meat type treat to offer your cat.

Do you love cats? Me too! Join in on Facebook and watch the fur fly!

Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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