When it comes to special treats, it seems that cats naturally gravitate toward milk the way dogs take to bones and mice go for cheese.

But while it’s true that many kitties love to lap up the white stuff, it turns out that they can’t always successfully digest milk without getting sick.

Should Cats Drink Milk?

Cats do not gain anything nutritionally from milk that is not present in a well-balanced premium cat food and it should be treated more like a very occasional high-calorie treat than an everyday food.

It is recommended that cats be fed no more than 20 to 30 calories a day from unbalanced sources, such as human food items or commercial treats such as Greenies. Skim milk contains 83 calories per cup, while whole milk contains 149 calories per cup. Too many calories from such treats can dilute out essential nutrients from a feline’s main diet, contributing to the serious obesity problem that we are currently facing with our pet cats.

Aren’t Most Felines Lactose Intolerant?

Standard cow milk has much more lactose and casein than many dairy-loving kitties can digest.

Most adult mammals have at least some degree of lactose intolerance — and cats are no exception. The amounts of lactase (the enzyme that digests lactose) that the body produces declines after weaning.

In other words, cats’ bodies are even less equipped to handle the stuff as they stop nursing and get older.

Lactose is a sugar, and undigested sugars draw water into the intestine and can cause diarrhoea. They are also fermented in the gut, and can cause bloating and flatulence.

Ultimately, like humans, some cats will tolerate milk without a problem, but Kaleen Vet Hospital recommends offering safer treats, like bite-sized bits of cooked meat and fish or commercial cat treats like Greenies for an equally tasty reward.