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Can Cats Drink Lactaid? Health Facts & Risks

Lactaid is a lactose-free milk product, free from the sugar found in milk. For many cats, digesting this sugar can be difficult. Luckily, because Lactaid does not contain lactose, it is much easier for cats to digest. Even cats that are lactose-intolerant can drink this form of milk.

However, some cats may still have a problem with Lactaid. While it doesn’t contain lactose, some cats may have trouble with other ingredients. It’s best to only give your cat a minimal amount at a time to gauge their reaction. If they act fine and do not feel any gastro-intestinal complaints, then you may be able to increase it without much of a problem.

With that said, just because your cat can drink Lactaid does not mean that they should. It is not necessary for cats to have milk in the least, as it doesn’t contain many of the nutrients they need to thrive. While it is okay to give Lactaid to cats as a treat (usually), it is not okay for them to consume a lot of it.

You want cats eating their balanced and complete cat food, as it contains all of the nutrients they need to thrive. Lactaid does not.

divider-catclaw1 What About Regular Milk?

It is a common misconception that milk is good for cats. While you may see it given in the movies and children’s books, most cats cannot actually drink regular milk. Cats may like the taste of milk and be more than willing to drink it if it is offered, but most cats are lactose-intolerant.

In other words, they cannot digest lactose well, which is the main sugar in regular milk. In the end, this will result in diarrhea and stomach upset.

Kittens are the only cats that are not lactose intolerant. Kittens have to digest the lactose in their mother’s milk so it is vital that they can digest it properly. However, as they grow older, they slowly lose the ability to digest it. Almost all adult cats are lactose intolerant and older cats will be more sensitive to lactose than younger cats.

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Is Lactaid Healthy for Cats?

Of course, Lactaid does not contain any lactose so your cat should not get an upset stomach when they consume it. However, that does not mean that you should just provide your feline with all the Lactaid they can drink.

While it doesn’t contain any lactose for your cat to react to, it does contain other ingredients that your feline may be sensitive to. For instance, many cats have very sensitive stomachs and will have a reaction to just about anything that isn’t their usual food. If your cat isn’t used to drinking Lactaid, the odds of them having a bad experience are pretty high.

If you do want to feed your cat Lactaid, you should do it slowly. Start with only a tablespoon or two and then increase it. If your cat handles it fine, then they can probably have more. Still, you shouldn’t go overboard, as drinking too much Lactaid can make anyone sick.

Lactaid is not particularly healthy for cats. It does not contain many nutrients that cats are often low in. If your feline is eating their normal food, then they shouldn’t need to be supplemented with Lactaid.

Cats do not need milk. If you do include Lactaid, then it should function like a treat and not be given every day or in high amounts.

With that said, there are a few downsides to introducing Lactaid into your cat’s diet.

The Downsides of Lactaid

A tiny amount of Lactaid is probably not going to harm your feline. However, there are several downsides to introducing Lactaid to your cat’s diet. While your feline may really love the taste, some of these downsides may prove to be too much for your feline.

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Potential of Stomach Upset

Anytime you feed your cat something new, you risk the chance that they’ll develop stomach upset. While Lactaid does not contain any lactose, many cats may still experience stomach problems after consuming it. The odds of a problem are higher if your feline has a more sensitive stomach. However, there is no way to tell 100% how a cat will react without simply trying it.

No one wants their cat having diarrhea and vomiting—even if it is only for a few hours. However, that is a chance you take when you give your feline Lactaid.

Replacing More Nutritional Foods

While Lactaid does have some vitamins and minerals, it is not a complete food for cats. Your cat should be consuming most of their calories from their usual cat food.

If you feed too much Lactaid to your cat, you risk your feline getting more and more of their calories from Lactaid. Over time, this may prevent them from eating all of the cat food that they should, which can cause nutritional deficiencies.

Of course, a small amount of food is not likely to cause this problem. However, if you provide Lactaid daily and in high amounts, it can cause problems over a long period.

It isn’t that Lactaid is bad for cats—it just isn’t nearly as nutritional as cat food.

can cats drink milk
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Causing Finicky Eating

Another potentially serious downside of Lactaid is that it can cause your cat to become picky about what they eat. If you allow your cat to feast on Lactaid, they may begin to expect more of it. Cats are fairly picky anyway, so any excuse for them to be even pickier can make things very difficult for their owners.

For instance, your cat may begin to refuse their regular cat food, especially if you’re providing them with substantial amounts of Lactaid. They may hold out until you provide them with their favorite food, eating minimal amounts of their usual cat food.

Alternatively, they may reject other treats and only want Lactaid. Typically, this isn’t a huge problem. But it can make feeding them supplements and more nutritionally-complete treats difficult.

Even if your cat doesn’t reject their current food, they may reject future foods unless they taste like Lactaid. If you need to switch your cat’s food in the future, you may have a harder time.

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

Lactaid does not include any lactose, which is a milk sugar that cats usually can’t digest. Many cats are lactose-intolerant, which means that lactose will cause stomach upset. Because Lactaid does not include lactose, cats can typically eat it without a huge problem.

However, some cats may still have problems, especially if they have more sensitive stomachs. Even if your cat can drink Lactaid without a problem, too much consumption can push out their normal cat food from their diet. Eventually, this may lead to nutritional deficiencies, since Lactaid does not contain all of the nutrients your feline needs to fine.

Plus, Lactaid can often lead to picky eating as well, particularly when it is given regularly. Your cat may just learn to expect this treat and refuse to eat anything else.

In the end, it is often best to avoid Lactaid, even if your cat can technically drink it.

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Featured Image Credit: ChristopherPluta, Pixabay