Tag Archives: cats and milk

Should You Give Milk To Kittens?

We have all seen the cute advertisements and cartoons that show kittens and cats drinking cow’s milk. But it may not be a good idea. Very young kittens produce the enzyme lactase  to help digest the lactose sugar that is present in their mother’s milk.  Mothers begin to wean their kittens at about four weeks of age.  The ability to produce the lactase enzyme decreases after weaning. Therefore, if a kitten is given cow’s milk, it may not be able to digest the lactose that is present in the milk. Undigested lactose passes through the intestines and draws water with it. Bacteria that is present in the colon can ferment the lactose and produce unwanted fatty acids. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Diarrhea can be deadly to a kitten as it quickly leads to dehydration.

So what is one to do if an orphaned kitten is found before the age of 8 weeks when it is able to drink water and eat solid food?  Many pet stores carry mother’s milk replacement formulas.  After 8 weeks, when the kittens eyes are open, able to focus, and it is steady on its feet, it will not need the formula anymore. However, it does not harm the kitten to give him this milk formula as a treat. If you are unable to obtain the milk replacement formula, it is best to give the kitten milk that’s processed to be lactose free.