Why Do Cats Like Milk

Why Do Cats Like Milk?

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Last Updated on May 20, 2023 by Pauline G. Carter

Cats like milk because it contains fat, protein, and sugar, which are all essential for their growth and development. As kittens, cats drink their mother’s milk, which provides the necessary nutrients for their early development.

However, adult cats can also enjoy milk, although in moderation, as some cats may be lactose intolerant. Despite this, the image of a cat lapping up a bowl of milk has become a ubiquitous stereotype in popular culture. But where did this notion come from, and is it really true that all cats love milk?

In this article, we will explore the relationship between cats and milk and the reasons why some cats may prefer it over other beverages.

Why Do Cats Like Milk?

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Understanding The Fascination: A Look At Cat Behavior

For thousands of years, cats have been domesticated animals that share our homes and hearts. And yet, some aspects of their behavior continue to mystify us. One such curiosity is their love for milk and dairy products. In this section, we’ll explore why cats are drawn to these kinds of foods and how their behavior is affected by them.

Exploring The History Of Cats And Milk Consumption

Many people believe that cats have always enjoyed drinking milk, but the truth is that this isn’t entirely accurate. While it’s true that cats might occasionally drink the milk from their mother while they’re still kittens, adult cats are generally lactose intolerant, meaning that consuming dairy can lead to several concerning symptoms.

What Draws Cats To Milk And Dairy Products?

Despite the fact that milk can cause discomfort and digestive problems for cats, they still seem drawn to its creamy, sweet taste. Why is that? One reason might be that cats find the taste of milk rewarding. Additionally, cats are generally drawn to high-fat foods due to their evolutionary history as hunters who needed high levels of energy to chase and capture prey.

Cat Behavior And Instincts: The Role Of Lactose Intolerance

Another reason why cats might be drawn to milk and dairy products is that they don’t recognize it as harmful or indigestible. Unlike humans who may suffer from lactose intolerance, cats don’t have the same capacity to recognize that milk isn’t a part of their natural diet.

However, this lack of awareness can lead to several negative side effects for felines who consume dairy.

How Cats Interact With Dairy Products

When cats consume dairy, they may experience several issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomachs. Furthermore, some cats might even develop skin issues or food allergies due to ingredients in dairy products. As such, it is crucial for pet owners to monitor their cats’ behavior and seek veterinary advice if they suspect that their cat is experiencing any health problems.

Though cats may enjoy the taste of dairy, it’s essential for their overall health to avoid giving them milk and other dairy products.

The Health Implications: Separating Fact From Fiction

Debunking Common Myths And Misconceptions About Cats And Milk

Contrary to popular belief, giving milk to cats is not always a good idea. The following are some common myths and misconceptions you should be aware of:

  • Myth #1: Cats need milk to stay hydrated. This is not true as cats are perfectly capable of consuming water to meet their hydration needs.
  • Myth #2: Milk is good for cats’ digestion. The opposite is often the case. Many cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they have difficulty digesting lactose in milk, which can cause stomach upsets and diarrhea.
  • Myth #3: All cats love milk. Some cats may like the taste of milk, but many do not.

Understanding The Nutritional Needs Of Cats And How Milk Fits In

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they need a diet that consists primarily of protein-rich animal products to meet their nutritional needs. While milk contains some nutrients, it is not a necessary part of a cat’s diet. If you do choose to give your cat milk, it should only be given as an occasional treat in small quantities.

Some important nutritional facts to keep in mind include:

  • Cats need high levels of protein, fat, and certain vitamins and minerals to thrive.
  • Milk is not a balanced source of nutrition for cats, and giving too much can lead to malnutrition.
  • Some sources say that a cat’s diet should consist of at least 90% animal protein, so it is important to ensure your cat’s diet is meeting their needs.

The Dangers Of Giving Cats Large Quantities Of Milk

While small amounts of milk might not harm your cat, excessive consumption can lead to the following dangers:

  • Lactose intolerance, which can cause gastrointestinal problems and discomfort.
  • Weight gain and obesity. Milk is high in calories and can contribute to a cat’s weight gain if consumed too frequently or in large amounts.
  • Nutritional deficiencies. Cats that consume too much milk may eat less of their regular food, leading to an unbalanced diet that can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Alternatives To Milk For Cats’ Hydration Needs

If you want to offer your cat a treat, there are healthier alternatives to milk that can also help keep your cat hydrated, such as:

  • Fresh water is the best source of hydration for cats. Clean water should be readily available at all times.
  • Wet cat food contains high levels of water and protein and can also help keep your cat hydrated.
  • You can also try adding a small amount of tuna or chicken broth to your cat’s food or water bowl as a healthy and hydrating treat.

While cats may enjoy the taste of milk, it is important to understand the risks and nutritional challenges that it poses. If you do choose to give your cat milk, do so in small quantities and as an occasional treat.

Remember, healthy hydration and nutrition are key to keeping your cat happy and healthy.

The Practical Considerations: Making Informed Choices

Factors To Consider Before Feeding Milk Or Dairy Products To Your Cat

As a cat owner, you may be tempted to share your milk or other dairy products with your furry friend. However, it is essential to consider a few factors before doing so:

  • Lactose intolerance: Many cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme needed to break down lactose. This can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, and gas.
  • Nutritional requirements: Milk does not provide all the essential nutrients that cats need to maintain a healthy diet. Feeding your cat too much milk can result in obesity and malnutrition.
  • Allergies: Some cats may have an allergy to dairy, which can cause itchiness, skin problems, and gastrointestinal distress.
  • Other health conditions: Cats with certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, may be sensitive to milk and dairy products.

Types Of Milk And Dairy Products That Are Safer For Cats To Consume

Not all dairy products are safe for cats to consume. However, some dairy products have lower lactose content and may be safer options:

  • Lactose-free milk: This type of milk has the lactose enzyme broken down, making it easier for cats to digest.
  • Yogurt: Plain yogurt contains beneficial probiotics that can help with digestion. However, make sure the yogurt does not contain added sugars or flavors.
  • Low-lactose cheese: Some cats enjoy nibbling on cheese. Consider feeding them low-lactose cheese in small quantities as a treat.

Recommended Quantities And Frequency Of Milk For Cats

As mentioned earlier, milk should not comprise a significant portion of your cat’s diet. Here are some guidelines regarding feeding milk to your cat:

  • Quantity: The recommended quantity of milk is no more than 1-2 tablespoons per day.
  • Frequency: Cats should not consume milk daily. Consider offering milk as an occasional treat, once or twice a week.

Tips For Introducing Milk To Cats And Minimizing Risks

If you decide to offer milk to your cat, it is essential to follow some guidelines to ensure their safety and well-being:

  • Start with a small amount: Begin by serving a tiny quantity of milk to determine if your cat can tolerate it.
  • Monitor your cat for any digestive issues: Watch out for any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or gas. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, stop feeding them milk.
  • Choose high-quality milk: Pick high-quality milk from a reputable source to avoid any potential contaminations.
  • Gradually introduce milk into your cat’s diet: Slowly introduce milk into your cat’s diet to minimize digestive issues.

By following these guidelines, you can safely offer your cat a small amount of milk as a treat while minimizing the risks of digestive issues and allergies. Remember to prioritize your cat’s nutritional requirements and opt for safer options such as lactose-free milk, plain yogurt, and low-lactose cheese.

Frequently Asked Questions For Why Do Cats Like Milk?

Why Do Cats Like Milk?

Cats like milk because it contains protein, fat, and lactose that are essential for their growth and development.

Can Cats Drink Milk?

Cats can drink milk, but in moderation. Too much milk can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

What Kind Of Milk Can Cats Drink?

Cats can drink lactose-free milk or special cat milk made with ingredients that are safe for them to consume.

Is Milk Bad For Cats?

Milk is not bad for cats, but excess consumption can cause digestive problems. It should be given in moderation.

What Can I Give My Cat Instead Of Milk?

You can give your cat water, cat-friendly milk alternatives, or treats that are specifically designed for cats.


As we’ve discovered in this article, cats love milk for reasons deeply engrained in their biology. While many felines don’t possess the enzyme lactase required to digest lactose, those that do may enjoy the taste of milk and its soothing properties.

Still, milk should never be a cat’s primary beverage – water is essential to their overall health and well-being. Additionally, if a cat consistently drinks milk with lactose, it can lead to digestive upset and potential illness. So, if you decide to give cats a treat of milk, it’s vital to do so sparingly and offer lactose-free options to avoid any discomfort.

As much as cats love milk, their digestive health should always come first. Remember to keep an eye on your furry friends and give them the proper care they deserve.

About Author (Pauline G. Carter)

Pauline G. Carter

Pauline G. Carter is a well-known pet blogger who has written about the world of pets for several years. She is passionate about pets, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles, and poultry. Her blog, which is updated regularly, is filled with articles and guides on pet care, nutrition, and training. She also shares her experiences and observations on pet ownership, making her blog relatable and informative for pet lovers. She is a true animal advocate and is dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership. Let’s Go …

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