Can cats drink milk? Why do some people say that cats are okay to drink milk?
Before having a cat, the fixed perception of cats was that cats and milk were a perfect match. Especially on TV, there are often those clips of feeding milk to stray cats.
But after getting a cat, it was discovered that there has always been controversy about whether cats can drink milk.
Some owners believe that cats can't drink milk and will get diarrhea after drinking it.
Some owners think: that cats can drink milk, and their cats are drinking from childhood to adulthood, with no problem at all.
Who is right and who is wrong? This starts with kittens that have not been weaned.
I. Can cats drink milk or not?
Newborn kittens need to drink breast milk from their mother cats, and while drinking milk, their bodies will secrete enough lactase to break down the enzymes of lactose. However, with weaning, the lactase produced by the kitten's body will gradually decrease until it no longer produces lactase.
How useful is lactase?
In the case of humans, people who ingest lactose need lactase to break it down into simple sugars before it can be absorbed. If the lactose consumed is not completely broken down and absorbed for any reason, the resulting digestive symptoms are called lactose intolerance.
According to some data, 70% of adult blacks, 10-15% of adult whites, and 95% of Asians suffer from lactose intolerance.
In China, according to researchers, the incidence of lactose malabsorption in adults after drinking cow's milk is as high as 86.7%, with an intolerance index of 0.9.
What is lactose?
Lactose, which is a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose, is a unique carbohydrate found in human and mammalian milk. During the growth and development of infants and children, lactose not only provides energy but also participates in the process of brain development. In addition, lactose promotes the production of certain lactic acid bacteria in the human intestine, inhibits the growth of spoilage bacteria, and helps intestinal motility.
Most cats develop lactose intolerance by 2 months of age, and the most common adverse reaction to drinking milk is diarrhea. Some owners say, "I feed a good infant formula, how come my cat still has diarrhea?"
Cats are carnivores and their bodies have a high demand for fat and protein. The nutritional content of milk not only does not meet the needs of cats (after all, cows are grass eaters), but also contains high lactose, so how can kittens carry it?
1. most cats are lactose intolerant.
First, let's see, what is lactose intolerance?
Lactose is a disaccharide whose molecule is composed of glucose and galactose. It has a slightly sweet taste and cannot be absorbed directly in the body, but needs to be broken down under the action of lactase to be absorbed. Therefore, in cats lacking lactase, after ingesting lactose, undigested lactose enters the large intestine directly, stimulating faster peristalsis of the large intestine, causing symptoms such as abdominal chirping and diarrhea called lactose intolerance.
Many kittens are prone to dysentery (diarrhea) after drinking milk or dairy products because the cat's gut lacks lactose digestive enzymes and lactose enzymes. The lactose in milk cannot be fermented in the intestine and cannot be digested by the body, and this indigestible lactose will cause bacteria to multiply, which will instead absorb water and cause dysentery, such a situation is very similar to lactose intolerance in humans. In adult cats, the lactase enzyme in the body is low and decreases with age, so the lactose in milk cannot be fully digested, resulting in lactose intolerance. Lactose is also fermented by microorganisms in the posterior intestinal canal, producing gas and causing flatulence and even osmotic diarrhea. The long fat chain in milk is not easily absorbed by cats and can lead to volumetric diarrhea, which is fatal for cats, especially kittens.
Of course, not all dogs and cats are intolerant to milk, and a small percentage can still digest milk. Compared to purebred cats, mixed-breed cats are generally more receptive to milk.
2. The nutritional composition of carnivorous cat milk and herbivorous cow milk is very different
The concept of supplementing nutrition for the family cat is correct, but feeding milk is debatable. After all, cats, when they are young, drink the mother's milk, not the cow's milk.
Simply put, the ratio of milk fat to lactose in cat milk and milk is different. The composition of cat milk is characterized by high fat, high protein, and low lactose; while milk is low fat, low protein, and high lactose; for cats, the protein content of milk, in general, is not enough, and additional additions such as taurine, fish, meat, etc. are needed for feeding, and most milk contains only half of the protein of the special dry feed for cats if If cats are fed with milk and dairy products for a long time after weaning, it is easy to cause protein deficiency, energy deficiency, and anorexia.
3. Some cats are allergic to the protein in milk
Distinct from the gastrointestinal symptoms of lactose intolerance, cats, especially kittens, may also be allergic to the proteins in milk.
Milk contains approximately 3 grams of protein per 100 ml, including both casein and whey proteins. Both of these proteins have the potential to cause allergies. When the cat's immune system mistakes the normally ingested milk protein for an invading enemy, it triggers a series of immune reactions to fight the "enemy", which may result in vomiting, diarrhea, skin redness, asthma, and other symptoms. When the immune response is too strong, untimely rescue may even lead to death.
Cats that do not have diarrhea from drinking milk should also be given fresh water to drink after drinking milk. In addition, if milk is taken out of the refrigerator, it can sometimes cause dysentery in cats under the stimulation of the cold, so the food given to cats should not be too cold, and the food can be heated slightly first when the weather is cold.
II. Why do some people say it's okay for cats to drink milk?
Lactose intolerance can also be influenced by dietary habits over time as well as genetic differences. It cannot be ruled out that a small percentage of cats can adapt to milk. Eastern cats are more likely to be lactose intolerant than Western cats and purebred cats than mixed breeds.
If the owner has been feeding the cat milk since weaning and the cat's small intestine is still maintaining the secretion of lactase to some extent, and the cat is not lactose intolerant and does not show symptoms of diarrhea, then the cat is the lucky star. (But whenever a cat has diarrhea once, stop feeding milk immediately)
However, the owner should not feel happy, do not feed the cat milk often, must control the amount, and do not feed the cat milk as daily drinking water. Otherwise, the cat's kidneys will be burdened in the long run. Just because a cat loves to drink and can drink, does not mean it is good for its health. Ditto for yogurt.
In addition, milk has a single nutritional composition. Even for cats that are used to drinking milk, owners must remember to give their cats extra nutrition. For adult cats that have grown up, there is no need to feed milk, and fatty cats do not need to drink it.
It should also be stressed to owners that if they are newly picked up kittens (I don't know how long they have been weaned), stray cats, or adult cats, they should not take the risk of feeding their cats milk. This is not only about lactose intolerance, but also about whether the cat is allergic to the protein in the milk.
III. So what kind of milk should I feed my cat?
1. If the cat is purchased, it is recommended to take it home at least after it is weaned and immunized (about 3 months) so that it can eat cat milk cake on its own for more balanced nutrition.
2. If it is an adopted stray kitten and needs to be fed manually, it is recommended to buy goat milk powder with low lactose formula.
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