Thanks to cartoons, movies, and iconic photos found everywhere, a lot of us grew up thinking that aside from boxes, mice, and yarn balls, cats love milk but did you know that cow’s milk is actually dangerous for our feline friends?

In reality, most cats are actually lactose intolerant which means that their bodies don’t have the necessary enzymes to digest the lactose found in milk. Since they are lactose intolerant, many experience painful side effects which include stomach cramps and diarrhea. In severe cases, undigested lactose found in milk stays in the intestines for a long time which ferments overtime and can eventually lead to stomach problems that develop later on in life.

Can Kittens Drink Milk?

Surprisingly enough, kittens can digest milk although they eventually lose the enzyme that digests cow’s milk around 8 weeks. While cow’s milk may be deemed “safer” for them at an early age, the best way to avoid future stomach issues is to avoid cow’s milk all together.

Are There Other Alternatives?

The best nutritional source for newborn kittens is their mother’s milk. However, if you happen to stumble on an abandoned kitten, it’s best to prepare the materials necessary for bottle feeding before taking them off the street. Visit your nearest pet store or veterinary clinic and look for milk replacement formulas. Many experts suggest getting the powdered version so owners can measure and prepare the kitten’s milk accurately. Milk replacement formulas also contain the right amount of nutrients for newborn kittens. For kittens who are less than a week old, bottle feedings should be done every three hours (a total of 8 feedings a day!) because of their vulnerable state. It is also important that newfound owners do not skip or overfeed their kittens since both instances can cause diarrhea.

For older cats who don’t necessarily need round-the-clock feedings and can now digest solid foods, the best alternative to milk is simply water! If you’re the type of owner who wants to make things more fun for your cat, you can purchase water fountains online or at specialty stores. Cat fountains are also a great way to entertain cats who are fascinated with sinks and moving water. For owners who want to give their furbabies extra treats, you can also shop for lactose-free milk which is safe for both cats and humans.

What about Bone Broth?

Another popular drink/meal for cats is bone broth so the next time you have roasted meat for dinner, remember to keep the bones and leftovers for your cats! Bone broth is made from animal bones and connective tissue, which are typically derived from cow, chicken, or fish. Bone broth involves boiling these ingredients and then slow simmered for 10 or more hours with herbs and vegetables. Bone broth shouldn’t be confused with regular broth and stock since both do not follow the long simmer time that bone broth does. They also do not contain the much needed nutrients that our cats deserve.

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