Brace yourself. Hollywood has a lot to answer for! We’re brought up believing cats truly crave milk. But do they really like it and is it actually bad for them?
Here’s a Drool investigation!
Watch any cartoon or kids movie and the cold, sodden stray kitten always ends up with a bowl of milk and everything is better. But wait. Where is the flatulence and diarrhoea that surely follows the next day?!
Well in amongst the fiction, there is some truth here. The meowers do indeed LOVE milk. But it’s not the sweet taste they’re drawn to as cats don’t really have sweet taste buds on their tongue. Instead, the rich aroma of milk wafting into their sensitive nose sends a clear message to them that this mysterious creamy white liquid is packed full of protein and fat. The two biggest weaknesses for cats.
But what happens when they drink it? Well, aside from the protein and fat, there is a sugar in milk called lactose. And while kittens possess an enzyme called lactase to digest it, like us, they lose this enzyme as they grow up.
So give an adult cat regular cows milk and that lactose sugar goes untouched through their whole digestive system before landing in the colon where all sorts of bacteria have a feeding frenzy and ferment the sugar leading to some of the most potent and eye watering bloat, flatulence and diarrhoea you’ll hopefully never have to experience.
It’s why cat milks are both lactose free and often have that lactase enzyme added into the milk to make sure they can actually absorb it rather than unleash hell on their litter tray!
So handled the right way, milk doesn’t have to be a (bad) four letter word for moggies. They just grow out of it and into other kinds of protein. Who’d have thought not everything in movies was real?! I’ll save Garfield and Lasagne for another time…