Milk and cats–seems like a good combination. But is milk safe for cats? What about non-dairy milk? Can cats drink almond milk?
Many children’s books, artworks, and cartoons have been depicting as if milk was a balanced diet and a favorite treat for cats. Have you watched the Tom and Jerry Show in your childhood days? Do you remember the bowl of milk always lying beside Tom’s place? Ah! Jerry always used to steal Tom’s milk, and one time, the baby elephant drank all the milk. Let’s not go further down the childhood memory lane and get back to milk and cats.
For humans, the benefits of milk abound—it is considered a basic part of a balanced diet, having the required nutrients. But does the same hold true for cats? Most importantly, can cats drink almond milk?
Cow Milk and Almond Milk
The world is moving away from cow’s milk to non-dairy, plant-based milk such as almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk. People are ditching dairy milk for various reasons, ranging from animal welfare to medical issues such as lactose intolerance, and sustainability. Among plant-based milks, almond milk is the most popular in the United States. As of July 2018, the total retail sale of almond milk amounted to $1.2 billion. In contrast, soy milk was a distant second with total sales worth only $230 million, according to Statista.
Almond milk can be found almost everywhere–from grocery stores to coffee shops. Most probably, there is some in your fridge as well.
Can Cats Have Dairy Milk?
No! Cats cannot have dairy milk. Like some humans, most cats are also lactose intolerant. They do not have the necessary enzyme, lactase, to break down the lactose sugar present in cow milk. Actually, as soon as the breastfeeding period ends, kittens gradually stop producing lactase. This is the reason that after a kitten’s breastfeeding period is done, they should not be given milk, recommends Charlottesville Cat Care Clinic.
Can Cats Have Almonds?
You might have heard the rumor that almonds are toxic to cats. Have you heard it before?
The almonds that are widely consumed in the United States are sweet. And sweet almonds are not toxic to cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). However, since almonds are not an integral part of a cat’s diet, you should give them sparingly as a treat to your cat. Giving one or two almonds to your cat should be fine—but not more than that. Otherwise, the high-fat content of almonds can cause digestive issues in your cat.
Do not throw them a whole almond. It poses a choking hazard and may also cause obstruction in the cat’s gut. When treating with almonds, break them into smaller pieces before giving them to your cat.
Contrary to sweet almonds, bitter almonds are toxic to cats. They actually contain a cyanide compound that is poisonous to cats. However, you should not be worried as bitter almonds are not sold in the United States. They can be found at some natural stores, but they will be clearly marked as bitter almonds.
Can Cats Drink Almond Milk?
Knowing that cats are lactose intolerant and cannot have cow milk, you need to know if almond milk is safe for cats. It does not even pose any choking hazard to cats as posed by whole almonds.
Well, cats can have almond milk but in moderation.
Unlike dairy milk, almond milk does not contain lactose sugar that your cat is intolerant to. If truth be told, almond milk is not milk at all. It is made of almonds. Therefore, if your cat has been asking for a sip of almond milk in the breakfast and there is some milk left in your cereal bowl, you can give it to her. But it is advised that you do not share the leftover milk in your cereal bowl with your cat as it’s extra sweet, containing the sweetness of cereal as well.
Can Kittens Drink Almond Milk?
No, baby kittens should only be drinking their mother’s milk. That is the only healthy milk for cats. But if the baby kitten is an orphan or you have rescued her from the street and have no idea where the mother cat is, you will be anxiously looking for milk replacer for kittens. Well, you cannot give them cow milk for the obvious reason stated above—lactose intolerance. And almond milk is also not a suggested kitten milk replacer as it cannot fulfill the nutrient requirements of kittens.
Kittens have very fragile and sensitive internals at a young age; therefore, vets strongly advise that cat owners avoid giving them any milk other than their mother’s milk.
According to PetMD, PetAg KMR liquid and Hartz KMR powdered formula are some best options for kittens who are too young to eat any solid food and need to drink milk to get appropriate amounts of nutrients.
Do Cats Like Almond Milk?
What’s not to like in almond milk? It is refreshing, creamy, and has a delectable nutty taste–it’s to die for. Most cats look forward to their sip of the leftover milk in their owner’s cereal bowl.
But they do not know what is good for them and what is not. Therefore, as responsible feline lovers, we must never give them any dairy product and only little amounts of plant-based milk such as almond milk.
Is Almond Milk Bad for Cats?
We have already discussed that almond milk does not contain any lactose sugar that cats are intolerant to, so it is settled that almond milk is not innately toxic to cats. However, it could still be harmful to your cat’s health if consumed in excess.
According to Dr. Colleran, almond milk is loaded with fats and also contains artificial sweeteners, which are not good for cats. Manufacturers add artificial sweeteners and flavors to almond milk to make it more palatable for humans. Even the so-called unsweetened almond milk contains certain artificial flavors and sweeteners that are harmful to cats. Thus, if you are going to share almond milk with your feline fella, make sure that it is natural and does not contain any artificial sweetener. Again, in moderation.
The high amount of fats and oils present in almond milk may upset your cat’s stomach, leading to bloating, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, by feeding it to your cat, you are giving her extra calories, which can make your cat obese. Already 30 to 35 percent of the feline population is suffering from obesity, according to VCA hospital. These obese cats are more prone to developing heart diseases. To ensure that your cat does not become a victim of obesity and stay agile, you should avoid frequently giving her unnecessary treats such as almond milk.
How to Give Almond Milk to Your Cat?
We all have some guilty pleasure.
Milk is like a guilty pleasure to cats. So if your cat has developed a taste for milk, there is no better option than almond milk—natural almond milk containing no artificial sweeteners and flavors.
But while giving your cat almond milk, you should remember “moderation is the key.”
To begin with, you have to run it by your vet before giving it to your pet. After getting your vet’s approval, you should give your cat a very small amount of almond milk, maybe a small cup. When your cat has consumed the almond milk, you should become extra observant of her health, especially for the one to two hours after its consumption. If your cat has not shown any signs of sickness, you can then increase the amount of almond milk.
But the moment your cat starts exhibiting the following signs of sickness, stop her giving the milk and get her to the vet at the earliest.
- Bloating and painful gas
- Abdominal cramps
Can cats drink almond milk? To sum up, yes, they can—but be careful about the quantity.