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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Cats are known to like milk and as a loving owner you naturally want to offer your pet only the best. But does cat milk belong in the diet of our pets? What should you look out for in normal milk? Are there cat-friendly alternatives? 

Is milk good for cats?

We have been told since we were children in many books and films, that most cats like milk. Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that cats are allowed to drink normal cow milk. 

As kittens, when they are still being suckled by their mother cat, the enzyme lactase is still produced. This enzyme is important because it breaks down the milk sugar, also called lactose, in the milk and thus makes it digestible for the little cat’s body. Mother’s milk contains various valuable ingredients to make the little cat big and strong. 

The production of this enzyme stops at the end of the nursing period. For this reason, older cats can no longer metabolise lactose and usually become lactose intolerant. As normal cow milk contains lactose, this can have a number of unpleasant effects on your cat:

  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain and cramps

There are exceptions if the cat has never stopped taking milk, for example on farms where the animals are given milk for life. However, it is still not healthy, because it is not intended by nature to drink milk after a certain age, as it is with us humans. 

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Can i feed lactose-free milk to the cat?

It is obvious to simply offer the cat lactose-free milk. As the name suggests, this milk does not contain lactose, but it is not ideal for your cat. 

Cow’s milk, but also lactose-free cow’s milk, is much richer in fat than cats’ breast milk. The reason for this is that calves have a higher energy requirement after birth than kittens. Little kittens are nest feeders for the time being, calves have to stand on their own two feet right after birth. 

Lactose-free milk is more digestible (because the enzyme lactase is added to the milk), but due to the high fat content it is only recommended as a treat now and then. Regular consumption can lead to obesity, which is not good for the health. It should also be diluted with water and not offered straight.

Do cats need cat milk?

For very young kittens that have to be raised by hand, there is special kitten milk. After that, cats no longer need milk.

Why is cat milk available in the shops? Quite simply because many cats like it. Just like there is a sweets shelf for us humans. But just because it’s made for cats doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy for them. While it is usually more digestible for our cats than regular milk, it should only be offered very rarely, if ever. 

Cat milk is tailored to the nutritional needs of cats and contains, among other things, taurine and various (artificial) vitamins. If your cat is fed a balanced diet, additional cat milk is not necessary and often even counterproductive. Unfortunately, it often contains additives such as sugar or vegetable by-products, which are also not healthy for your cat. 

The main source of liquid for cats is always water. 

Tip for weaning off: You can add a little of the cat’s milk to the normal drinking water and reduce the amount over time until there is only water in the drinking bowl at the end. 


A cat drinks from a bowl of milk. This is a picture that many people can’t imagine without. However, milk, especially cow milk, is not as healthy and digestible for cats as some people think. Even special cat milk is not very healthy, but it is fine as a rare treat. But it is by no means a substitute for drinking water.