The word cat is often linked with milk. But do you know whether cats are lactose intolerant or not?
If you are surprised by this question, then you is one of those people who doesn’t know that many cats don’t even like milk. We all have seen many photos of Cats drinking milk happily. But the truth is a little bit different than the images. Some cats can’t even digest milk at all.
Lactose intolerance is not that of a rare phenomenon. Just like humans, many cats are lactose intolerant too. There is not a sure way to tell if your cat is lactose intolerant or not unless he/she gets sick from drinking milk. So, instead of risking your cat’s life, you better steer away from dairy to prevent some potential risks.
So, here, we are going to learn the things that would be helpful to determine lactose intolerance and its effects on cats.
What is Lactose Intolerant?
Lactose is a type of sugar present in milk. In many common cases, animals don’t have the enzyme that digests the lactose in their body. The insufficient amount of the essential enzyme makes it unable for their body to absorb the milk. The undigested lactose stays in the intestines, and instead of passing to the bloodstream, the lactose ends up fermenting because of the bacteria present in intestines. This will lead to many health problems in Cats that will appear after 10-12 hours after they drank milk.
Why Do People think Cats Like Milk?
People think that milk is the ideal food item for cats. Yes, it is true that Cats are fond of cream, but it is only because of the high-fat content. That’s why they get attracted to cow’s milk especially when there is a layer of cream on the top of the milk. Humans tend to believe that what they see is true, but that not always the case. That’s why many cats avoid drinking milk bought from stores and malls.
A cat who suffers from this condition is not always aware of it. Hence, the cat owners must be alert if they identify a symptom similar to lactose intolerance.
Causes of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose is a substance which is present in all kinds of milk. So, whether it is cow’s milk or artificial milk, there will surely be a small amount of lactose in it. Moreover, it is not just milk but other dairy pr9oducts too. They all contain the same compound. So, most of the cats suffer from digestive problems because their system is not designed to handle such kind of food items.
Many people already know that Cats are a purely carnivorous animal. This means that they are good at digesting food items like bone marrow, meat, tissue, and similar items. Fatty foods like milk and cheese are far away from the reach of cats.
One other reason is the age factor too. You must have noticed that the kittens can easily drink milk without having any side effects. As the kitten grows up, the enzyme that digest lactose becomes less effective and their digestive system evolve to making them incapable of eating the rich dairy foods. The mother cat’s milk is undoubtedly good for the kitten, but that can’t be said for cow’s milk too.
What are the Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Cats?
Once you cat consumes milk or some other lactose-containing food item, within 12 hours, you will see the following symptoms:
- Excessive Gas
- Abdominal pain
- Dry Gums
- Increased Heart Rate
Apart from the symptoms mentioned above, the cats can also experience some other allergic reactions like mucus discharge from eye and nose, itchy skin, rashes on the stomach, and irregular bowel movement. The effect differs according to the product that was consumed by the cat.
But that’s not a hard fact that all cats can’t drink milk. Many cats can drink a bowl of milk without any problem whereas some will have severe reactions to it. Thus, it can be concluded that genetics also affects the ability to drink milk in cats.
How to Treat the Cats Suffering from Lactose Intolerance?
The condition can’t be eliminated immediately, but some points must be kept in mind so that the alleviation of the risk can be done correctly.
The first and most important point to remember is to eliminate the intake of dairy products entirely from the cat’s diet plan. If the cat is in a lot of pain, then taking her to the vet might be a considerate idea to treat her well.
Usually, the cat becomes dehydrated and needs Intravenous fluids. The doctor will provide the necessary supplements for her body so that your cat can recover from her condition as soon as possible. If the symptoms are not chaotic, then administer fluid can be given through injection on its neck. The Subcutaneous Fluid Administration can be continued at home too.
What should be given as an alternative?
So now, as you wait for your cat to recover from the health problem, you have a lot of time to research what can be given as an alternative for cow’s milk and other dairy products. Luckily, there is a perfect alternative for the cats.
It is unpasteurized milk products. These products are less likely to harm the gastrointestinal system of the cats as the bacteria present it already breaks down the lactose. Thus, your cat will be able to drink milk, eat cottage or cheddar cheese, plain yogurt and other dairy treat made from unpasteurized milk.
My cat was just 5 days old when I brought her home. She mostly drank milk instead of eating other food items. Gradually we improved her diet and started adding eggs and meat in her diet too. Some days ago, we gave her milk to feed, because the eggs were boiling at that time. So, she drank it calmly. But after just half an hour, she started behaving odd, and we noticed that she was vomiting in the corners of the house. We immediately took her to a vet. The vet advised avoiding dairy products in her food. Now, we only provide her other food items but not milk for sure.
As the dairy products are not in the natural diet plan of cats, hence giving them lactose rich items is exposing them to an unwanted health issue. So, as the Cats can also be Lactose Intolerant, keep such food items intact and out of reach of cats.
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