We have all seen the stereotypical image of a cat happily lapping from a bowl of milk, but is milk really good for your cat? Actually, many adult cats have trouble digesting milk, more specifically, the lactose that is found in milk. This is because they no longer posses the enzyme lactase in sufficient quantity to digest the lactose in milk. Kittens are born with plenty of lactase enabling them to digest their mother’s milk, but produce less lactase as they grow older.
Feeding milk to a lactose-intolerant cat can result in digestive upset, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Milk actually does not have much nutritional value, and cats should always have a ready supply of clean, fresh water.
If your cat is able to tolerate milk with no digestive upset, an occasional treat of a bit of milk is fine. If you have a cat that loves the taste of milk but is lactose intolerant, you can find alternatives such as Cat-Sip which is lactose free, real milk formulated for cats. Many cats that cannot digest milk do fine with other dairy treats such as a bit of cheese or yogurt.