Even if they don’t know it yet, every pet owner will try to give their little friend the best life possible at all costs. For cats and kittens, this includes a particular type of diet that is, fortunately, relatively easy to follow. To keep their cats in great health, owners must pay attention to their pet’s veterinarian and learn about what foods they should and shouldn’t consume at different stages in their life.
Surprisingly enough, for your cat to have a good diet, you must first learn the truth of the lifelong myth of cats and milk.
Can Kittens Drink Milk?
If you are thinking about cow milk, then the answer is no. Kittens can’t drink milk. Not only is milk not a good source of essential nutrients for kittens, but according to PetMD, it can also cause diarrhea and dehydration due to kittens not being able to digest milk properly.
However, milk that comes from the cat’s mom is essential during the first few weeks of life as it is the only food they can consume, and it fulfills their nutrient requirements. Once they can eat solid foods, kittens should switch to only wet and dry foods and fresh water and should not go back to drinking milk.
Start introducing your cat to solid foods by giving them wet food first and then regular dry food. Additionally, you should offer your kitten food at least four times a day if you don’t want to underfeed them. Your veterinarian will give you more detailed recommendations once they weigh and asses your feline friend.
If you have a kitten, make sure to get food made specifically for them. Because they are at a rapid growth stage, kittens need more proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals than adult cats.
Until What Age Should Kittens Drink Milk?
Kittens typically consume milk up to eight weeks after birth. Their mother will usually be the one to wean them gradually from around six weeks of age, so they can start consuming solid foods. After this period, they stop producing the enzymes needed to break down the milk and basically become lactose intolerant.
While most cats won’t be able to consume milk, some won’t ever lose their ability to digest it. However, this doesn’t mean you should feed them milk, especially if it’s replacing a regular meal. As mentioned, milk does not have enough nutrients to cover your kitten’s needs, and the fat present in most types of milk will most likely only give them an upset stomach.
Even if many cats still enjoy milk’s taste, it’s better to feed them milk-flavored wet food than actual milk. This way, they can enjoy the comforting taste while still receiving all the nutrients needed.
Can an Adult Cat Drink Milk?
No, most adult cats can’t drink milk. As mentioned, most cats become lactose intolerant after their first few weeks alive. Much like humans, if they consume anything with lactose, they will suffer some very uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous consequences like gases, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, pain, and more.
You may be asking your self “What about cats who aren’t lactose intolerant?” Well, even if they don’t have immediate health issues as a consequence, milk just isn’t a good enough meal for them. Given that milk carries high amounts of fat, there are two options for the cat owner. You either give them less food to compensate for the extra fat and risk them being malnourished because of a lack of vitamins and proteins, or you feed them the same amount of solid food and overload them with fat.
Whichever the case may be, it is better for your cat’s health to give them proper adult cat food and avoid milk, even special cat milk.
What Should I Feed My Cat?
As a new pet owner, your cat may surprise you with their special diet.
Firstly, because they are carnivores, they require up to three times more protein than most other pets. Then, they require amino acids such as taurine to produce another type of amino acid and to avoid heart conditions, reproductive failures, and abnormal development. Additionally, because they can’t produce enough of some fatty acids, so they require them in their foods. Lastly, they need specific vitamins to convert nutrients into energy and continue supporting their skin and eye health.
If you wish to know more about what foods to give to your cat to avoid needing an emergency vet, check out our blog on the matter.
Helping Your Cat Through a Veterinary Emergency
If you need urgent information regarding a balanced diet for your cat or fear your pet may need emergency services, contact Brightcare Veterinary Group immediately at 949-716-9270 or visit us at our office.