The Detroit Post
Wednesday, 01 December, 2021

Why Are Cats Attracted To Milk

Carole Stephens
• Monday, 30 November, 2020
• 24 min read

These days, it’s better known that lactose intolerance amongst our feline friends is incredibly common, so it’s more likely to see pet parents hesitate before giving their cats or feral/stray kitties they care for outdoors milk. Yet this doesn’t negate the fact that we simultaneously still realize just how many cats love drinking milk.

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We have plenty of this enzyme in our systems at birth, and it helps us thrive on our mother’s milk. But as we grow up, it’s normal for people and cats to begin producing less lactate.

Thus, as we grow up, less of the enzyme lactate means less tolerance to lactose in both human and feline lives over time. I suggested in the intro that the fact that cats are mostly all lactose intolerant (to varying degrees) is beginning, more and more, to be common knowledge, although I do feel what this lactose intolerance itself entails in terms of symptoms felt is a touch less understood.

Lactate breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. As a result, people with lactose intolerance are unable to digest these foods.

They may experience symptoms such as nausea, cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea. So we’re looking at symptoms related to discomfort if your lactose intolerant and consume dairy.

Or, to be on the safe, skip out on the milk and cheese snacks altogether if your cat is ever on medication. If you were considering using milk to sprinkle the insides of your cat’s pill into, so he or she laps it up without realizing, as the milk would mask the taste, or of you thought to use cheese to hide medicine pills you need to convince your cat to eat, pass on this.

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I feel like when it comes to the taste of milk, the same is true for cats. And to be honest, it’s probably the polar opposite of bananas, which most cats abhor and will never try, although some will love consuming.

Now, let’s go over why cats would like drinking milk, even though it’s possible it’ll give them some real discomfort if they consume it and don’t have a high tolerance to lactose themselves. Heck, I know my share of lactose intolerant friends and family members (it runs in my family), and to be honest, a lot of them like cheese and ice cream so much, they’ll consume the amazing stuff and accept the ramifications of those terrible side effects later.

Upon a close look at the subject, we found out that despite the relationship between these two, milk can actually be harmful to your cat. Let’s find out when you can give your cat milk and when not to in order to keep him healthy.

Read on to find out more on lactose intolerance in cats, alternatives to milk, and why water may be a better option. The queen is well aware that her kittens can’t see or move efficiently and will adjust her body to accommodate them.

If her babies start moving towards the wrong direction, she softly paws at them to redirect them. This is usually the case if the mother is exhausted from a long or painful labor.

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According to vets, kittens should be suckling by least 30-40 minutes after birth; they can’t survive the first hours of their lives without milk. The fact that the babies rely solely on their mother for sustenance makes them grow close to her, and they develop a lasting taste for milk.

The very first secretion of a cat’s mammary glands is milk full of nutrients and antibodies. It has high energy content and provides the building blocks for the kitten’s immunity.

Passive immunity is Mother Nature’s way of giving your kitty a head start in an unforgiving world. If a molly is vaccinated against a viral disease like panleukopenia, she develops antibodies.

The disease is usually fatal to newborns since it attacks rapidly growing cells. The ability to absorb antibodies from colostrum, however, only lasts for about 18 hours after birth.

This is a misconception since after 18 hours newborns lose the ability to absorb antibodies, and they never regain it. As they age, though, the number of maternal antibodies drop significantly, allowing vaccinations to be effective.

cat milking

Nature takes care of this by having the mother withdraw herself from the litter or by refusing them to suckle. The introduction of a solid diet allows the nursing cat to regain her health.

In most cases, cat owners resort to feeding cow’s milk to kittens during weaning. This is one of the most misguided practices owing to the fact that most cats are lactose intolerant.

It’s the inability to digest or break down lactose, which is a type of sugar found in milk. The action of lactate on lactose produces two simple sugars, i.e. glucose and galactose.

Since milk is the first nourishment that mammals encounter, the body produces enough lactate during infancy. As kittens start weaning off milk, the levels of lactate drop.

By week 10 of age, the lactate in the body lowers to the point that it may not be possible to digest milk. With time, the production may cease altogether, making your feline lactose intolerant.

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Cats are attracted to the cream that settles on top of a bowl especially when the milk is derived directly from a cow. The protein’s smell makes milk alluring, and most cats can’t resist the urge to lap it up.

Cats are obligate carnivores; this means that their diet is dependent solely on meat tissue from other animals. Dairy products are not tailored to provide a balanced diet; they comprise high amounts of fats, proteins, and calories.

Overindulgence in the stuff will make your cat gain weight, becoming exposed to diabetes, liver problems, and possible joint pains. If your cat is lactose intolerant but still insists on lapping up milk whenever he lays eyes on it, then go for milder products.

Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, butter, and ice cream could work for your kitty. This means that microorganisms have acted on the dairy portion of their ingredients to partially digest the lactose.

Caution should still be taken with the amount of cheese or ice cream your cat takes in a day. Unlike milk which may or may not cause discomfort to your furry friend, water is an absolutely necessary part of his diet.

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If your fur baby loves to drink right from the tap or flowing water, then invest on a kitty fountain. Water helps in the regulation of body temperature, food digestion, and elimination.

Water is vital to your cat’s health, and it contains zero calories or fats; it doesn’t put your kitty in danger of being obese or sick. Besides it being their first diet, they are attracted to the proteins contained in milk, and no amount of discouragement can convince them otherwise.

Kittens can benefit from milk because their bodies are able to digest the lactose contained in it, but as they grow older, the level of lactate, the lactose-digesting enzyme may not be produced anymore. This means that your grown cat does not draw any nutritional benefits from milk.

You might also consider milder products like yogurt, cheese, and ice cream, but they should be given in moderation to avoid obesity. Better still, let your cat have more water which is an essential part of his diet and does not cause any discomforts, like the ones that could arise from lactose intolerance.

When the body is exposed to food substances that it views as invasive, the immune system attacks. Once the milk has gone through the digestive systems and expelled, the symptoms cease, and your fur baby is back to his usual jolly self.

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Cats are attracted to yogurt and milk because of the fats and protein that they can sense and smell within the dairy products. Just like us humans, cats drink (and need) milk after birth from the breasts of the mother.

At birth any mammal will have the enzyme to break down lactose into single sugars that are easier to digest. After the breastfeeding period, we slowly lose the enzyme to break down lactose, some faster than others.

Lactose intolerant people and cats will therefore get a bad stomach, resulting in gastrointestinal problems. Yes, correct, even our cats (or at least some of them, not all) do love to get a lick of any diary product they smell in the air.

The strange thing is, these cats have never had cheese before, or yogurt, or ice cream. In humans lactose intolerance means that we will have stomach issues, ranging from stinky farts to diarrhea.

The parts of the diary product that your cat has interest for are fat and protein. There can be a lot of both fat and protein in milk, cheese and yogurt.

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We humans can be lactose intolerant too or have a liking for specific types of food, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are healthy for us. Kittens on the other hand do need milk to build up their healthy body.

We have been on the milk duty for quite a lot of kittens through the past years, both bottle-fed and bowl-fed. Km milk is basically laboratory made mother milk with all the nutrients for a growing cat.

That way you can safely give your cat milk, without them getting dangerous dehydrating diarrhea and omitting fits. Cats do not need the extra fat and protein if they have a well-balanced diet of kibble or wet food, so offering them small bits of cheese, portions of milk, butter or yogurt are strictly seen treats to cats.

Small amounts shouldn’t affect every cat as badly, so you can use the dairy products sometimes as treats, but take that with moderation. There is a big difference between feeding your cat a tiny amount of cheese occasional versus feeding your cat a slice of cheese every day.

Not all that bad when it is just you, but when you have visitors, this behavior can get easily very annoying to your guests. An alternative to giving human dairy products is using special designed cat treats that usually have the harmful components removed or reduced and often also are enriched with some vital nutrients.

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A healthy happy thriving kitty is one that has a well-balanced diet and adequate amounts of water. The traditional image of a contented cat lapping from a bowl of milk is a misleading one.

However, the milk we now buy in supermarkets contains little fat, and while some cats may like it for its taste, many do not find it easy to digest. The surprising truth is that cats are just as good at learning as dogs are, so it should be possible to train them, although few people do.

Partly this is because the cat’s traditional function, hunting and killing vermin, comes naturally to them, and they are actually more successful at this when left to their own devices. Dogs (Cans lupus familiars) are unique in that they find human attention rewarding in its own right.

Indeed, the easiest trick to train a cat to perform is to ‘beg’ for its food, as countless YouTube videos attest. They first have to be taught that there will be a payoff for paying attention, specifically a tasty prawn or morsel of chicken breast.

Biologists now consider that character traits like these are akin to human personalities and are common to many animals, not just cats. Cats lack the sophisticated analysis of body-language that enables dogs to resolve such differences and can live in a state of conflict for months, even years, on end.

drinking milk

On the other hand, if feral kittens are discovered before they reach the critical age of two months, and they are carefully introduced to people, they can quickly become indistinguishable from any pet cat. For example, during a conversation we unconsciously choose our words carefully to get our message across, because we are able to imagine what the other person is likely to be thinking as we are speaking to them.

It could be the expression of a sophisticated set of rules for communication, such as ‘if you can see both of the other dog’s eyes, signal your intentions; if you can’t, bark to get his attention’. So when your cat is looking at you, it will certainly be paying attention to you, but it’s unlikely to be pondering whether you’re thinking back, never mind reading your thoughts.

The second ‘nose’, known as the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ, consists of a pair of fluid-filled tubes, each with one opening in the nostrils and the other just behind the incisor teeth. To reach this organ, odors have to first be dissolved in saliva and then pumped up into the pouch, producing sensations that must lie somewhere between smell and taste.

The vomeronasal organ (No) even has its own area of the brain, the accessory olfactory bulb, where the information it produces can be processed separately from that generated by the nose proper. Cats Enos are probably more discriminating than dogs’ because they were originally solitary animals and so had to rely on scent marks to communicate with one another.

We caught many examples of this on the night-vision cameras deployed around Shaula Green, the Surrey village chosen for the BBC program The Secret Life Of The Cat. Dr Carlos Driscoll and his colleagues at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, examined the mitochondrial DNA of hundreds of pet and wild cats.

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He concluded that the domestic cat and its wild counterpart, the Arabian wildcat Felix silvers lyrics, diverged not 4,000 but 10,000 years ago. Subsequently, domestic cats spread from their point of origin throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Precisely where that point of origin was is still uncertain: the DNA of today’s wildcats from that place should be very similar to that of pet cats worldwide, but given the current political turmoil in the region, it has not yet proved possible to collect enough samples to pinpoint the location with any degree of certainty. Over time, it became progressively more pet-like, while retaining the hunting ability that made it invaluable in keeping food stores free from rats and mice.

Regardless of how tasty milk may be to your cat, this is bad news for their stomach and digestive system. Just like humans, some cats can’t digest lactose, a milk sugar that’s found in dairy.

“ undigested lactose will stay in their intestines rather than passing into the bloodstream, and end up fermenting,” says Dr. Richter. “Whole, 2 percent, and skim cow’s milk can also add unhealthy amounts of fat to your cat’s diet.” Since cats don’t have the enzyme necessary for digesting lactose, drinking milk can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight, abdominal pain and discomfort, and cause behavior changes such as increased scratching.

Regardless, most veterinarians suggest other alternatives since cows milk has no nutritional benefits for cats. Cats need plenty of water,” Least Greer, the Manager of Nutrition & Regulatory Affairs at Solid Gold Pet, told Reader’s Digest.

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“Water is incredibly important for promoting optimal organ function in cats. A great way to make sure your cat is getting enough water is by feeding him/her wet canned food.

The main culprit is milk ’s lactose, which many cats have trouble digesting. And although we tend to think that’s a problem, it’s actually completely normal, says Linda P. Case, MS, adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and author of The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health.

“The only time animals are exposed to lactose is when they’re babies -- in their mother’s milk,” Case says. We have plenty of this enzyme in our systems at birth, and it helps us thrive on our mother’s milk.

When a lactose-intolerant cat drinks milk, the undigested lactose passes through the intestinal tract, drawing water with it, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's website. Bacteria in the colon also ferment the undigested sugars, producing volatile fatty acids.

But the most common symptom of lactose intolerance in cats is diarrhea, usually within eight to 12 hours, says Susan G. Wynn, DVD, CVA, CVC, an animal nutritionist in Atlanta and co-author of the Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine. That’s because some cats tolerate milk just fine, Wynn tells WebMD.

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If you don’t see symptoms within a day, chances are good your cat will do fine with milk as an occasional treat. Remember that treats of all sorts -- such as tuna, meat, cheese, or other people foods -- should make up no more than 5% to 10% of your cat’s diet.

Sometimes a cat that can’t tolerate milk may have no problem with other forms of dairy, like yogurt, cheese, butter, or ice cream. Foods like yogurt and ice cream are often diluted with other things, such as water or added fats.

Despite those charming storybook illustrations, “cow’s milk is completely inadequate for kittens,” Wynn says. Though kittens have lactate in their system, there’s just not enough of it to tackle the lactose overload found in cow’s milk.

“The casein to whey proportions are all wrong in cow’s milk too,” Case tells WebMD. That means adjusted casein and whey ratios, and a reduction in the amount of lactose.

You can give these as treats, but “in general, there is no reason to use them unless the cat has developed an unusual taste for them,” Wynn says. No matter how well-tolerated cow’s milk is, your cat will always need plenty of fresh, clean water.

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According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine's website, water helps your cat: To encourage your cat to drink water, try placing several bowls of different depths around the house.

Sources Susan G. Wynn, DVD, CVA, clinical resident in small animal nutrition, University of Tennessee; Co-author, Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Herbal Medicine. Linda P. Case, MS, adjunct assistant professor, University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine; author, The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health ; co-author, Canine and Feline Nutrition.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: “Feeding Your Cat,” “Ask Elizabeth: Is Giving Catskill Harmful to Them?” Sure, we’ve all seen photos, videos, cartoons, and movies where cats happily lap up milk.

But you may be surprised to learn that dairy products from cows are probably bad for your cat. This means that they don’t have the enzymes needed to digest the lactose in dairy products.

When cats drink cows’ milk, they can end up with painful stomach cramps and diarrhea. This is because undigested lactose will stay in their intestines, rather than passing into the bloodstream, and end up fermenting because of bacteria.

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That fermentation leads to a whole array of stomach problems that often appear within eight to twelve hours of drinking the milk. So, to be on the safe side, keep the cow milk, cheese, and dairy products away from your cat.

(Picture Credit: Holly Cohn (copyright holder For Bob Rashid)/Getty Images) On farms, when milk came straight from the cow, the fattier cream rose to the top.

But even cats who lap up fatty cream still have to deal with upset stomachs afterward. Around eight weeks of age, kittens lose the lactate enzyme that digests lactose.

If you want to make the water a little more “fun,” consider buying a drinking fountain for your cat. This product has the lactose removed by adding lactate enzymes that break the sugar down.

In fact, feeding milk to our cats isn’t something that’s encouraged by veterinarians and other feline authorities. This enzyme breaks down the sugar content found in a mother cat’s milk and enables a kitten to digest it properly.

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As the lactate disappears from a growing cat’s system, so does his ability to digest milk. Compare it to children who love candy, and given the opportunity, will happily eat as much as they can.

Cats are similar when it comes to milk, so if you give your kitty a saucerful, he’ll enthusiastically lap it up even though it may not be good for him. In most cases, a tiny bit for a treat (i.e. the occasional teaspoon) shouldn’t do your cat any harm, but don’t make it a habit.

According to the ASPCA, dairy products such as cheese and ice cream can lead to the same digestive issues, if cats eat too much. Once a cat is weaned from his mother’s milk and moves onto solid food, all he really needs to drink is water.

Most veterinarians agree that giving milk to cats causes more health issues than it does any good. Although your cat may not be as eager to drink water, it’s the best form of hydration and definitely essential to his health.

“I have had success with my feline patients consuming goat milk -based products that are either dehydrated or in fresh or frozen liquid formats,” he says. Nadia Ali is a freelance writer who was born in London, England and now lives on the Caribbean island of Trinidad.

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If your cat has consumed bleach then you should consult a veterinary professional immediately ** Many pet owners have noticed that their cat is attracted to the smell of bleach.

By the end of this post, we hope you have a better understanding about why cats like bleach and what to do if your cat consumes this toxin. But researchers believe it is related to the chemical composition of bleach.

Well, there is probably something in the catnip and chlorine that acts like a pheromone to cats. A pheromone is a chemical that causes a natural reaction in certain creatures.

That is why your cat might droll, roll around, or purr when exposed to bleach or catnip. So cats are just naturally attracted to the chlorine in bleach.

But, this really depends on the type of bleach and how your cat consumes the product. When you use commercial bleach at home, you are likely using a diluted version.


If your cat does drink or consume bleach, you should be aware of the signs of poisoning. Your cat might exhibit a natural reaction to the bleach fumes.

Skin irritation Vomiting Stomach pain White patches around the mouth Excessive drooling If you cat consumed bleach, it is important to stay calm.

Step 1: Determine the Type of Bleach They Consumed If possible, you should try to figure out what type of bleach your cat consumed.

If they drank a small amount of very diluted bleach, you might be able to treat the symptoms at home. The best way to do this is by getting your cat to drink water or milk.

If your cat does drink water or milk, their symptoms should go away within 30-45 minutes. So, if your cat drank bleach, clean up the area.

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Although there hasn’t been a lot of research conducted on this topic, most people think cats are attracted to the chlorine in bleach. If this happens, try to give your cat water or milk to flush out the toxin.

Ultimately, the best way to deal with bleach poisoning is to prevent it in the first place. Feel free to share your story in the comments below.

I’ll confess that I, for one, was a little on edge in the past at the thought of a cat and a human infant even being in the same room. But over the years, I’ve learned to separate the facts from the myths concerning cat/baby relationships.

Protect yourself from cat-related exposure by (carefully) emptying the litter box at least once a day while wearing disposable gloves and washing your hands after cleaning. More than 60 million Americans carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but their immune systems usually prevent illness.

As Dr. Justine Lee, DVD, writes in It’s a Cat’s World… You Just Live in It, “Despite what your M.D. By: rumple teaser Having always been told that babies were not safe around cats (because of the milk scent” on infants’ bodies), I just about lost it one time when I saw a strange cat trying to break through a screened window to get to my baby.

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And now, after my children are all grown, I learn that this myth is nothing more than an old wives’ tale stemming from the longtime belief that cats are symbols of evil. If a cat presses up against the face of a bundled infant who doesn’t know to turn away on his own, this is a dire problem.

Some cats “may become jealous and spray to cover up the scent of the baby,” according to Messy Beast blogger Sarah Hart well. Cats are curious and may feel a new baby’s cries are worth investigating.

If you’re worried about this, place a net over the crib so your cat can’t snuggle in. When you bring a new baby home for the first time, let your cat sniff around the infant.

Praising your pet when he behaves well with the infant teaches him that you are all one happy family. And when people come to see the new arrival, make sure they “pay attention to the cat as well as the baby,” says Hart well.

Gradually adjusting to the schedule that will be in place once the baby arrives will help your cat feel more comfortable and give him more chances to adapt to the changes that will inevitably happen. Playtime Frequency In the run-up to the birth, you may be tempted to lavish your cat with attention and affection to compensate for the baby’s arrival.

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But in doing so, you risk causing further confusion and stress when this doesn’t continue after the baby comes home. Instead, use the pregnancy period to gradually move playtime to times that will still be feasible so your cat won’t feel pushed out in favor of the baby.

A robust barrier such as a safety gate will prevent access without shutting your cat out altogether. Discourage this from the start by attaching double-sided sticky tape to the edges so that your cat is not so keen to access the crib.

The room should contain food, water, a litter tray and a comfortable sleeping area. Check in with your cat regularly while this room is being used and offer treats and affection.

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