Lactose intolerance in cats: symptoms and solutions

Can the cat drink milk? Are there cases of lactose intolerance in cats? What you need to know before taking risks to your health.

Should we forget the image of a kitten drinking milk from his small bowl? Probably yes, also because there are so many health problems that can arise from a seemingly harmless cup of milk. One of these is certainly lactose intolerance in cats, a problem not to be underestimated and of which we must immediately identify the signs to prevent the situation from getting worse. Let’s see what are the symptoms to recognize in the feline and how to remedy the problem.

Cat drinking from milk bowl: false image?

The romantic idea of a cold and undernourished cat that feeds on milk from a bowl, may not be entirely true: the relationship between felines and milk is not so idyllic, if we consider the probable consequences that can occur after a good drink! The problem lies in lactose, a complex carbohydrate, composed of galactose and glucose. Puppies can digest it without problems, thanks to lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the aforementioned element. But with the passing of the years it seems that this ability to split lactase decreases and also gives numerous health problems.

However, it does not mean that cats do not like milk, on the contrary! It is very likely that the cat approaches a delicious cup full of milk and eats it with taste, because it is still a sweet and tasty food. But later it may regret this greed of its!

Lactose intolerance in cats: what it means

As already specified above, cats like milk but it hurts the stomach. In fact, this substance, rich in sugars, is tempting to our four-legged friends, but it is not absolutely necessary within their diet. After weaning, in fact, lactase, the enzyme that is concerned with making milk more digestible, decreases by about 10% in the specimen no longer a puppy.

We also consider that goat’s or cow’s milk has a higher percentage of lactose than maternal milk: the latter is therefore far more digestible. But this does not mean that milk is not good for his health, but it will have to be consumed in another ‘form’. We consider giving the feline dairy products such as unpasteurized yogurt (with which to season and flavor its gruel) but also cheeses and ricotta, to ensure an excellent supply of protein and calcium.

Signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance in cats

How to tell if milk has hurt our cat? The most likely consequence is that the cat suffers from episodes of diarrhea, even quite violent and frequent and maybe they can occur up to 8 hours after taking milk. This is just one of the intestinal problems that can afflict the cat that suffers from lactose intolerance.

In addition to diarrhea, other signs that give the alarm are:

  • gastrointestinal gases,
  • episodes of vomiting in the cat,
  • swelling and abdominal pain,
  • stomach noises (due to the presence of fluids),
  • common signs to some allergies (itching and mucous secretions),
  • incontinence
  • constipation in the cat.

What to do in case of intolerance

As already mentioned, it is absolutely not necessary to include milk or dairy products in the diet of our beloved feline. However, sometimes we can make a ‘break from the rule’ and give it a little: maybe we try to see what effects a teaspoon of milk has on the cat and then we adjust accordingly. Although it is a carnivorous animal, we can include in its diet a concrete intake of calcium with yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese. It is important to specify that skimmed milk has the same effect as whole milk, since the percentage of lactose is equal and not digestible in both cases.

It is also not said that a puppy can always necessarily digest milk: they may be allergic to cow’s milk but not to mother’s milk. What we can do, if we do not want to completely eliminate milk and derivatives from the cat’s diet, is to control the effects it has on its organism, with particular attention to its feces in the litter box. In fact, if they are hard and dry, it is likely that the intolerance manifests itself with constipation and constipation. If, on the other hand, the feces were soft and of an unusual color it is not so good. In both cases it is better to replace the milk with a bowl of fresh water.

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