- Cats are lactose intolerant — Just like us, some cats cannot easily digest cow’s milk, which often makes them sick.
- Not all nut milk is safe either — Almond and oat milk are safe for cats, but they should avoid macadamia nut and coconut milk.
- Most types of milk do not provide essential vitamins — After kittens are weaned from their mother’s milk, they do not need it in their diet. Cats require protein-rich foods to stay healthy.
Because most cats are lactose intolerant, offering them an alternative like almond milk makes sense. However, just because cats may drink almond milk doesn’t mean it provides meaningful health benefits. Some veterinarians say it might even do more harm than good. Here’s what you need to know about giving your cat almond milk.
The concerns with giving cats almond milk
Just because it’s safe to drink doesn’t make this cow’s milk alternative the best choice for a regular snack.
Cats are obligate carnivores
Cats thrive on a protein-rich diet. The feline digestive tract needs meat to stay healthy and fit, and it does not break down plant-based material very well, all reasons why cats shouldn’t eat a purely vegan diet, according to the ASPCA . Their digestive tracts are not suited to break down carbohydrates, either. Since plant-based milk offers no nutritional value to cats, they’re simply lapping up empty calories.
Some almond milk has added sweeteners
Some almond milk options come packed with artificial sweeteners. In addition to providing no nutritional benefits, these added sugars are not healthy for obese or diabetic cats. Pet parents should always check the list of ingredients first. Xylitol is a popular sweetener found in many human foods that is toxic to cats.
Some almond milk may be heavy in calories
While almond milk is usually lower in calories than cow’s milk, it may still pack on unwanted weight. Sweetened almond milk averages between 70 and 80 calories per cup. And with 61% of cats in the U.S. falling into the overweight or obese categories, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, extra calories are something most felines simply don’t need.
There may be negative side effects
Cats tend to have sensitive tummies, especially when it comes to human food. Even though almond milk is technically safe, your cat may experience some problems if they drink too much or it doesn’t agree with them. Be on the lookout for the following adverse reactions:
- Diarrhea or runny stool
- Stomach upset
The potential benefits of cats drinking almond milk
But it’s not all bad news. Assuming your cat does not suffer any negative side effects, introducing some almond milk may provide a few benefits. Proponents of nut milk point to the fact that it’s a source of vitamin E. Just as in humans, this antioxidant supports healthy hair and skin and is a necessary part of a cat’s diet. While most cats get their supply of vitamin E from cat food, a little extra dose now and then isn’t a bad idea!
Other milk alternatives
Let’s face it: Cats love a nice bowl of milk. Here are a few feline-friendly options you can safely offer as an occasional treat.
- Soy milk. Similar to almond milk, soy milk is a lactose-free alternative that is perfectly safe for cats when given in small amounts.
- Goat milk. This natural alternative has less lactose than cow’s milk, so it might be easier on your cat’s stomach.
- Yogurt. A natural, probiotic yogurt is completely safe to offer your cat that may be struggling with constipation. Yogurt can support the healthy bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract while providing a boost of calcium.
Milk and other drinks to avoid
Cat parents should always avoid these types of milk, which can cause illness even in small amounts.
- Macadamia nut milk. As mentioned, macadamia nuts or nut milk is toxic for pets and has caused adverse reactions, including tremors and lethargy.
- Cow’s milk. The enzymes in cow’s milk and many dairy products make them extremely hard for cats to break down. Although a bowl of warm cow’s milk seems like a cat’s perfect treat, their lactose intolerance says otherwise!
- Coconut milk. This sweet, creamy drink is loaded with saturated fats, making it very hard for cats to digest. While not toxic, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea in your furry friend.
Frequently asked questions
Is almond milk toxic to cats?
No, almond milk is not toxic to cats, so don’t panic if your cat happens to sneak a taste of almond milk from your breakfast bowl now and then. However, drinking it too much or too often is not recommended due to the added sweeteners and the chance of gastric upset. If your cat struggles with obesity or gastrointestinal issues, it’s best to steer clear of regular milk and dairy substitutes.
Can my cat’s diet be vegan?
Cats cannot receive all of their essential nutrients from a vegan diet since they require protein which often comes in the form of meat.
How much almond milk can I give my cat?
Cats should not drink large amounts of almond milk or any liquid other than water. Pet owners can offer a few laps at the bottom of their bowl, but giving your cat more than 1 cup of almond milk daily is likely too much.
Which type of milk is best for cats?
The short answer is no milk is good for cats, considering they are lactose intolerant. However, some milk such as cow’s milk and macadamia nut milk will cause adverse or even allergic reactions in some cats and must be avoided completely. Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, vomiting, and tremors in cats. They’ve even made the American Veterinary Medical Association’s list of the top seven foods to avoid giving your cats and dogs.