Tortiseshell kitten drinking plant-based milk from wooden bowl

Lactose-free milk might make a tasty treat for your cat, but they should only have it occasionally.

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Is lactose-free milk safe for cats?

By Zoë Monk Content Writer

Published on the

Cats are known for their love of milk, but can they safely drink lactose-free milk? Here’s what you need to know about giving your cat alternative milk.

While kittens drink their mother’s milk, adult cats don’t need to drink milk to be healthy. They will benefit from the calcium and vitamins found in it, but milk lacks many amino acids that cats need to thrive. It can also be hard for some cats to digest, as not all cats can tolerate lactose, a sugar in milk which can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.

While lactose-free milk has been a game changer for many humans, can cats drink lactose-free milk safely? Here we’ll look at the different types of milk substitutes and whether they’re suitable for feline consumption.

Is plant-based milk safe for cats?

Plant-based milk has undoubtedly become popular as a non-dairy alternative to cows’ milk in recent years. However, while your cat may like the taste of plant-based milk, it’s not nutritionally beneficial for them and can lead to digestive problems. Your cat needs a nutritionally balanced diet that provides them with all the necessary nutrients they need.

Can cats drink oat milk?

Oat milk doesn’t contain lactose, but it may still cause some cats to have digestive issues, such as diarrhoea. Even if it doesn’t cause any digestive issues for your cat, it doesn’t provide much nutrition, so it’s best to only give it to your cat in moderation. Before you feed oat milk to your cat, check the ingredients, as some oat milk brands contain high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates, which isn’t good for your cat.

Can cats drink almond milk?

Feeding your cat a small amount of almond milk is unlikely to harm them. But the high fat and low protein content in the milk, combined with any additional flavourings added to it, isn’t going to do your feline friend any real good either and could, in large amounts, cause digestive issues such as diarrhoea.

Can cats drink rice milk?

Rice milk is made from rice and water and is not generally recommended for cats. It’s relatively high in carbohydrates and sugar and low in protein and adds no value to your cats’ diet. If your cat does manage to sneak a few licks of your rice milk, don’t worry. Rice milk is unlikely to cause them any problems, but in large amounts, it could cause weight gain and gastric upset in some cats.

Can cats drink soy milk?

Soy milk is made from soybeans and water and is a popular non-dairy product for humans. However, while it should be fine in small doses to give to your cat, it’s not typically recommended as it contains a high amount of phytoestrogens which can disrupt a cat’s hormonal balance. It can also contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and flavourings that aren't good for cats.

Can cats drink coconut milk?

Giving cats a small amount of coconut milk as an occasional treat is unlikely to be a problem. However, they shouldn’t have it regularly. The oil and fat in coconut milk can upset their digestive system, and the high-calorie content is not good for maintaining a healthy weight.

What is cat-safe milk?

The best milk for cats is their mother’s milk or a specific milk replacer designed for kittens. As cats age, they lose the ability to digest lactose easily, so the only milk they should have (if any) is small amounts of lactose-free milk or milk products specifically designed for cats.

While lactose-free milk and milk products for cats may contain less lactose than regular milk, they may not offer the nutritional benefits to cats that they need for a happy and healthy life. Ensuring your feline friend has a well-balanced diet and plenty of fresh water is a much better option.

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