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Can Cats Drink Lactaid? Vet-Approved Nutrition Facts

Genevieve Dugal

By Genevieve Dugal

cat drinking milk from a saucer

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The image of a cute kitten lapping milk freshly served by its favorite human is anchored in our imagination. But as charming as the idea is, cow’s milk is generally not recommended for our pet felines, due to the lactose it contains. But what about Lactaid milk, a product that does not contain lactose? Can you safely feed it to your cat?

The simple answer is yes, you can give your cat Lactaid, but only as an occasional treat. In fact, cats do not need to drink milk to be healthy, whether it contains lactose or not. Read on to find out what you need to know about cats, milk, and lactose-free products like Lactaid.

What Is Lactose?

Lactose is a carbohydrate (or sugar) naturally present in dairy products. It is made up of glucose and galactose and is digested by an enzyme called lactase. When this enzyme is absent or produced in insufficient quantity, it produces lactose intolerance. Cats, just like humans, can develop lactose intolerance.  Lactose digestion reduces dramatically after 7 weeks old in cats.

Why is Milk Bad for Your Cat?

Cats are generally unable to properly digest milk. This results in various digestive problems, such as bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. However, not all cats are lactose intolerant; some can indeed digest milk without problem, but this is not the norm. Also, if your cat is only mildly bloated, you probably won’t notice it. Therefore, veterinarians advise to avoid giving milk to cats after weaning to avoid unnecessary discomfort.

Moreover, since milk is not necessary for a cat to be healthy, there is no valid reason for cats to get used to drinking it.

What About Lactaid and Other Lactose-Free Products?

Lactaid is lactose-free milk. It is made by adding lactase to regular cow’s milk, which helps to break down the lactose and digest the milk better. The final product has much the same taste, texture, and nutritional profile as regular milk.

However, you should keep in mind that this is a product formulated for human consumption. So, while giving your cat a few sips every now and then isn’t necessarily harmful, there are better treats made especially for your furry friend.

Among them is the Whiskas Cat Milk. This drink for weaned cats and kittens, sold in cartons of 200 ml, is a healthy treat that you can give your cat from time to time.

But no matter which product you choose, keep in mind that treats, in any form, should not make up more than 5-10% of your cat’s diet.

Two cats drinking milk from bowl
Image Credit: Dmitri Ma, Shutterstock

Can Kittens Drink Milk?

If a kitten is separated from its mother before the weaning process is complete, it will need a replacement for its mother’s milk.

However, orphaned kittens should not be fed milk from cows, goats, sheep, or other ruminants, as these kinds of milk do not contain enough fat, protein, and minerals compared to cat milk. Indeed, kittens have specific needs in certain amino acids and essential fatty acids that ruminant milk does not cover.

Additionally, kittens lack the proper enzymes to digest the lactose in cow milk, which can produce upset tummy and diarrhea, as in adult cats. However, these digestive problems can appear more quickly and cause more harm to the kitten, given its small size.

Therefore, it is best to opt for formula milk available from veterinarians and formulated to be adapted to the nutritional needs of the little ones.

Are There Any Nutritional Benefits of Milk for Cats?

After the age of eight weeks, cats no longer need to drink milk to meet their nutritional needs.

Thus, if your cat likes to dip his whiskers in your cup of latte, it’s only out of taste and not out of need. He probably got used to the creamy taste and rich texture of milk, as well as its fat content but is not benefitting from drinking milk. But if you think your kitty is drinking from your glass of milk because he is dehydrated, you should offer water and could get him a cat fountain, which will provide him with all the water he needs to be well hydrated.

orange cat drinking water from the fountain
Image Credit: FotoLT, Shutterstock

Bottom Line

You can give your cat some Lactaid as an alternative to regular cow’s milk. Indeed, Lactaid does not contain lactose, which allows your pet to digest milk better, without causing painful digestive problems.

However, keep in mind that offering lactose-free milk to your cat should be only a treat and that he does not need the nutrients in milk to thrive. So, if your cat likes to lick the bottom of your cereal bowl, it’s just a matter of taste, not need.

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Featured Image Credit: ChervovRV, Shutterstock

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