Nutrition

Can Cats Drink Almond Milk?

Sharing isn't always caring. In the case of cats and dairy, a saucer of warm milk likely means an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea for your furry friend. But what about almond milk? This plant-based milk is a popular dairy alternative and is likely okay for your feline in moderation.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: September 5, 2023 | 4 min read

Healthy breakfast with a cute cat. Raisins, cranberries and hazelnuts served with almond milk on a white linen table cloth

This article should not substitute contact with a veterinarian. Contact your local vet immediately if your cat is reacting poorly after consumption.

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The children’s storybooks were wrong: We shouldn’t be giving our cats saucers of milk. By six months of age, most felines can no longer digest the lactose sugar found in dairy and suffer from indigestion if it’s eaten.

Kittens produce just enough lactase, the enzyme needed to process dairy foods, to digest mom’s milk. As they grow, their bodies’ natural level of lactase reduces, and they become lactose intolerant. Feline lactose intolerance can cause upset stomach, cramping, gas, and diarrhea.

If your cat goes crazy for cow’s milk but suffers from indigestion later, you may be looking for an alternative. Humans with lactose intolerance have turned to plant-based milk to fulfill their needs. We now have all sorts of alternative milks, including soy milk, oat milk, flaxseed milk, hemp milk, and pistachio milk. According to a 2023 report by Morning Consult, almond milk leads the pack, with 70 percent of adults calling it their preferred non-dairy milk.

If you think your cat will go nuts for almond milk, you’re in luck. Your feline can drink almond milk in moderation. Think of almond milk as an occasional treat rather than a diet staple.

Almond Milk

Almond milk in the glass with almond in the wooden bowl on the wooden table
Almond milk’s staying power can be attributed to several factors.

Go to any grocery store today and find various plant-based milk options. While relatively new options like oat milk and pea milk (think Oatly and Ripple) have stolen the spotlight, you’ll also find longstanding players like almond milk.

Long before other non-dairy milks, almond milk was a staple of health food stores. But its origin goes back much further than that. While we consider plant-based milk a modern health-food trend, Discover Maganize reports that almond milk has appeared in European cookbooks since at least the 1200s. And despite the growing interest in other plant-based milks, SPINS data revealed almond milk saw a 2.8 percent increase in year-over-year sales.

First, it became a lactose-free milk substitute. Additionally, almond milk is low in calories, making it appealing to those trying to maintain a healthy weight. Finally, almond milk has a milk taste and creamy texture that lends itself to various recipes and beverages.

Manufacturers create almond milk from almonds and water. Sometimes other ingredients like vitamins and minerals, thickening agents, oil, salt, and flavoring are added to enhance texture and flavor.

Almond milk comes from a plant source and naturally does not contain lactose. Because almond milk does not have lactose, it may be a better option for your feline than cow’s milk.

Is Almond Milk Safe For Cats?

Almond milk is safe for cats in moderation. Always check the ingredients before giving it to your cat. Look for almond milk made without gums, oils, flavoring, or added sugar. The fewer ingredients, the better. These additives may irritate your cat’s stomach, leading to vomiting or diarrhea.

As with any new food, start with a small amount to see how your cat reacts. Although almond milk is safe for cats, your feline’s tummy might not tolerate it. If your pet shows indigestion symptoms, stop giving them almond milk and consult your veterinarian.

Is Almond Milk Good For Cats?

Cats are carnivores that get their nutrients from animal products. A kitty’s digestive system utilizes nutrients most effectively from animal sources. While your cat won’t receive any nutritional benefit from drinking almond milk, it can still be used as a treat. Think of it like junk food. A little can be a fun and tasty treat, but it should only be consumed occasionally and never replace a well-balanced, quality cat food.

Can Kittens Drink Almond Milk?

Avoid feeding your kitten almond milk. Kittens should only drink mom’s milk or a milk replacement for kittens.

Kittens have a sensitive digestive system that will react poorly to almond milk, causing diarrhea and dehydration. When not treated properly, severe dehydration can be fatal.

The Myth Of Cats And Milk

Most adult cats are lactose intolerant because their bodies don’t produce lactase, the digestive enzyme necessary for breaking down lactose for digestion. As newborns, kittens produce enough lactase to digest their mother’s milk. As they are weaned, kittens produce less lactase, making the digestion of milk more difficult.

It is a misguided belief that cow’s milk is beneficial for cats. Yes, they may like the taste, but they’ll pay the price for lapping the milk later. Where do the stories of cats drinking milk come from? Many historians believe the idea started on farms. Even today, farms utilize the felines for their expertise in hunting mice and other vermin. Historians theorize that farmers would treat their working cats to readily available cow’s milk as a reward for a job well done.

Before pasteurization, cow’s milk naturally contains lactase enzymes. If the farm cats were getting raw milk straight from the source, the lactase might have helped them digest it without any gastrointestinal consequences. As these cats like outdoors and likely emptied their bowels in privacy, it could also be that any digestive issues went unnoticed.

If you offered your cat a bowl of warm milk, they would likely lap it right up. Dairy milk contains protein and fat. As these are normal components of a cat’s diet, it makes sense that they would be drawn to this drink.

Others theorize that drinking cow’s milk may be a leftover habit from kittenhood, similar to kneading. Kittens grew up drinking mom’s milk, so cow’s milk may have a familiar smell and taste that comforts them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Other Kinds Of Milk Are Safe For Cats?

If your cat loves cow’s milk, look for a lactose-free variety at the grocery store. There are also specialty cat milks, like PetAg Catsip Liquid Milk.

Goat milk is another acceptable alternative to cow’s milk because it contains less lactose. The Honest Kitchen makes a dehydrated goat’s milk powder with probiotics to support digestion.

Is Oat Milk Or Almond Milk Better For Cats?

Oat milk continues to be a popular dairy alternative. FoodNavigator reported that in 2022 retail sales of oat milk in the United States increased by more than 50 percent to $527.44 million. You may even have both plant-based milks in your refrigerator already. But which is better for your furry friend?

Per one cup, oat milk contains 120 calories, 3 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.99 grams of fat. In contrast, the same serving of almond milk has 40 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1.99 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of fat. Almond milk’s lower calories and carbs make it a better option for a cat’s diet.

Final Thoughts

Cats are lactose intolerant, so they should never drink cow’s milk. Can cats drink almond milk? Almond milk may be a safe alternative to satisfy your cat’s craving for milk. If you already have almond milk at home, check the label to confirm it’s safe for your feline. Always feed almond milk in moderation. For more human foods that are safe for cats, check out our list of feline-friendly foods.

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