It’s a stereotypical image: a cat lapping milk (or cream) out of a bowl. And Persian cats kick that up a notch with their fluffy fur and long tongues! But is this image all fantasy? Can Persian cats drink milk?
Short answer: Nope. Like any other cat, Persian cats become lactose-free as they leave their kittenhood behind, and drinking milk (or milk products) can make them have an irritated stomach after, usually leading to a gross litter box and a lot of gas and abdominal discomfort.
It may be cute, but Persian cats should be drinking water, not milk.
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The Lactose Intolerant Cat
It doesn’t occur to many cat owners (and it certainly doesn’t occur to cats) that cats are actually lactose intolerant, but it’s true. While kittens can drink milk and digest it just fine, as they are weaned, they lose the ability to digest milk.
This is because their bodies stop producing the enzyme that is required to break down the lactose (milk sugar) found in dairy products.
The enzyme is found in kittens, but once they are weaned, the amount produced naturally decreases until they stop making it at all.
All cats are lactose intolerant and Persian cats are no different. But there is a spectrum of lactose intolerance – some cats can handle it all right – the cat I had as a kid ate ice cream and was fine – while others are very sensitive to it, like my oriental longhair cross who I swear sniffs milk and has a smelly litterbox.
Persian cats will fall in the same spectrum, and there’s no way to tell how a cat will react until they have some, so it’s better to assume they won’t do well with it and save yourself and your cat any grief.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Persian Cats
If a cat is lactose intolerant, it will have a whole range of symptoms from absolutely nothing to more severe ones.
Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation or diarrhea
If a cat shows symptoms for more than twenty-four hours or is struggling to breathe, it’s important to take it to the vet right away for emergency care.
Dehydration in particular can quickly be dangerous for cats and they may need IV fluids to recover.
Again, some cats won’t have any symptoms, but if you’re not sure about how your cat will react, it’s not really worth the risk.
Can Persian Cats Drink Lactose-Free Milk?
Lactose-free milk is safer for cats since it doesn’t have the lactose that causes them problems, but it’s still not advisable to give them much of it. Lactose free milk isn’t a complete source of nutrition for cats, and it doesn’t really do anything for them.
Water should be a cat’s main source of hydration and lactose-free milk should only be used as an occasional treat or if necessary to hydrate your pet. Drinking too much of it too often can cause a cat to gain weight as it is fairly high in fat and calories.
Can Persian Cats Drink Goat’s Milk?
Goat’s milk is another dairy product that is much lower in lactose than cow’s milk, so it’s usually better tolerated. It makes for a good healthy treat, but like any other dairy product, it shouldn’t be regularly given as it’s not a complete source of nutrition and it’s high in fat and calories which can cause your cat to gain weight.
Which Dairy Products Can a Persian Cat Eat?
Dairy and milk products aren’t created equal, and some things are safer than others for cats to eat. Still, it’s best to only allow even the safest dairy food to be an occasional treat, not a daily occurrence.
It’s also important to note that not all Persian cats will tolerate them in the same ways. Which dairy products can a Persian cat eat?
- Plain yogurt as an occasional treat is usually safe. Avoid any with artificial sweeteners as these are often toxic and whole fruit can be a choking hazard (and are sometimes unsafe as well)
- Kefir is usually safe, but should only be given in small quantities until you see how your cat reacts
- Cheese such as cheddar and swiss cheese that has less lactose (or are lactose-free). You should only give them a small amount though as it’s high in fat
- Butter, but only in tiny, once in a while amounts because it’s way too high in fat
- Custard, but again, only in small amounts once in a while as it’s high in fat
- Whey protein is usually safe
Cats should avoid things like ice cream (too high in sugar and other ingredients can be toxic such as chocolate and nuts), blue cheese, whip cream (too high in sugar), and processed cheese and cream cheese as they are either too fatty or contain other ingredients like garlic which are toxic.
Persian cats may think that they can handle milk, cream, cheese, and ice cream just fine, but they usually regret it afterward and then you have an uncomfortable or even sick cat on your hands!
Adult Persian cats should not drink milk or have many dairy products. They don’t need it to be healthy and it’s usually too high in calories and fat to have in daily quantities.
Does your cat like to drink milk or eat dairy products? My tuxedo cat has to be regularly chased away from the yogurt!
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.