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Debunking common pet myths: Do cats need milk in their diet?

Cats are mysterious, intelligent, and often perplexing creatures, which has made them the subject of numerous myths around the world. In ancient Egypt, people believed that the goddess Bastet turned into a cat at night to protect the sun god Ra from his enemy, the serpent Apep. For this reason, cats were seen as the earthly manifestation of the protective deity, and they held semi-divine status in Egyptian society as a result. Not all myths were as beneficial to cat status, however. During the Scottish witch trials of the 16th and 17th century, cats were associated with witchcraft, which put their lives in constant jeopardy (and their human companions didn’t benefit from the connection either).

As a cat lover, you’ve likely encountered many legends and stories about our furry friends. Today, we’re going to tackle one of the more mundane myths that people are still lapping up. So grab a cup of tea (or milk alternative!) and get cozy with your favorite feline friend as we debunk the myth that cats need milk in their diet.

Cat Drinking

The myth of cats and milk

Close your eyes for a moment, and you might find yourself transported back to your childhood, remembering storybooks with sweet illustrations of cats lapping up bowls of milk in a charming barnyard. While those images might fill our little cat-loving hearts with joy, they may have also led us astray when it comes to our feline friends’ dietary needs.

Understanding a cat’s digestive system

Let’s take a break from storybooks and myths for a minute to delve into the fascinating science of a cat’s digestive system. Cats are true carnivores, meaning their bodies are designed to thrive on a diet primarily composed of animal-based proteins. But what about milk? Strange as it may seem, most cats are lactose intolerant, just like many of us humans. Lactose, the sugar found in milk, is challenging for cats to digest properly. It’s like offering a sweet dessert to a friend who’s watching their sugar intake—a recipe for digestive distress that’s just about impossible to resist.

Proper hydration for cats

Hydration is as important for our cats as it is for us, and the best source of hydration for your cat isn’t milk; it’s good, old-fashioned water. (Which, by the way, is way more affordable than milk anyway.) Water is at the top of the list of your feline friend’s nutritional needs, the true elixir of life. Cats require a fresh supply of clean water to maintain their bodily functions. If your cat isn’t drinking water from a bowl, consider purchasing a cat fountain or bubbler. In the wild, a moving source of water is safer than still water, so many cats prefer their water bubbly (just like many people).

Addressing individual cases

Of course there are exceptions, as there are always unique individuals in every species. Just as some humans can tolerate lactose, there are cats with genetic variations or previous exposure to milk who may handle it better. However, it’s important not to assume that all cats can tolerate milk, as it may lead to unnecessary discomfort.

cute cat

Let’s get to know our pets better together!

When in doubt about best practices for your feline’s health, consult with your family veterinarian. At Dove Creek Animal Hospital & Glove Cites Veterinary Hospital, we’re proud to be your partners in ensuring your cats’ well-being, offering expert guidance on nutrition, health, and happiness.

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