Growing up watching cartoons like Tom and Jerry, we all have this happy image of cats slurping up milk, enjoying it like it’s the most delicious thing they have ever had. This leads us to believe that cats love dairy products, and while most cats do, is it really a good idea to give your cat milk (or buttermilk in particular)?
Can Cats Drink Buttermilk? Buttermilk contains lactose, which Senior cats should not consume. A majority of cats suffer from lactose intolerance, resulting in gastrointestinal problems when they consume lactose-containing foods.
This article will explain why this might not be the best idea to give your cat buttermilk and what you can give instead of buttermilk.
Can Cats Have Buttermilk?
No, generally speaking, most cats cannot digest buttermilk.
Buttermilk is a by-product produced while making butter. Pure buttermilk is found mainly in areas like Pakistan, India, and Nepal. In the West, it is fermented milk consisting of water, lactose, and casein.
It is thicker in consistency than regular milk and is used in baked goods instead of regular milk due to its slightly sour properties that combat the sweetness and allow for a tastier baked good.
However, to digest buttermilk, cats need lactase. Lactase is an enzyme that helps in the digestion of the sugar, lactose. Without this enzyme in their system, the lactose from buttermilk pulls water from your feline’s intestine, causing them to pass watery stools. This will ultimately lead to dehydration which is dangerous for your furry friend.
In addition to that, the intestinal bacteria start fermenting lactose, causing your pet to suffer from bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, and increased flatulence. So overall, your kitty will be very much sick.
A tablespoon of buttermilk can be given to your feline as a test. Your pet should be closely observed 24 hours after that. An occasional treat may be given if they do not pass watery stools, although veterinarian doctors do not recommend doing this.
Interesting Reading: Can Cats Drink Oat Milk?
Is Buttermilk Good For Kittens?
As kittens have the enzyme lactase in their intestines (due to being solely on their mother’s milk), they can tolerate buttermilk better than adult cats, so a tablespoon or two can be provided to growing kittens as an occasional treat.
Buttermilk is still not the ideal food for kittens. The only thing kittens need in their diet is either their mother’s milk or, if separated from their mother, a kitten milk replacer.
Is it Safe for Cats to Drink Buttermilk?
Yes, generally speaking, buttermilk is not toxic for your furry friend. This means having some will not kill them. However, it can make them very sick due to the high amount of lactose sugar in them.
Even though buttermilk contains less lactose than regular milk, vets still do not recommend it due to its excessive fat content, which can lead to obesity. Obesity in cats can lead to cardiac problems, cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.
That is if they can digest buttermilk. As buttermilk still contains lactose and cats do not have the enzyme lactase, it will cause gastrointestinal issues and watery diarrhea.
Cats only need fresh water as a source of hydration. Most of the hydration they get from their food. Kittens rely solely on their mother’s milk. Hence any other liquid source is not nutritionally required by felines.
Also, Check Out: Can Cats Eat String Cheese?
Why Shouldn’t Cats Drink Buttermilk? / What Happens When Cats Consume Buttermilk?
Most cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they cannot digest the sugar lactose. This trait develops at roughly six months of a cat’s life when they are completely weaned off its mother’s milk.
When buttermilk enters your feline’s gut, it is fermented by the bacteria there, causing bloating and abdominal pain.
Also, as lactose is hydrophilic (meaning it attracts water strongly), it will pull the water from your cat’s blood toward the intestine, causing dehydration and watery diarrhoea.
Other common symptoms your cat may experience are:
- Dry gums.
- Increased heart rate.
A dehydrated cat will be lethargic and won’t eat. It will also have trouble grooming itself. The opposite happens if your cat is diabetic, as diabetes is prevalent in cats.
They will start using the litter box more often. Do not give any milk to your diabetic cat as it contains sugars that are harmful to their health.
Also, Read: Can Cats Drink Cold or Warm Milk?
What to Give Cats in Place of Buttermilk – Healthy Alternatives to Buttermilk
Although your cat only requires fresh water to stay hydrated, if you want to give your furry friend the occasional treat, there are better alternatives out there:
Lactose-free milk, especially those formulated specifically for cats, is a better alternative than buttermilk. This too should only be provided occasionally as lactose-free milk still contains a high amount of calories.
Milk available for cats in your local supermarket contains taurine, an amino acid essential for cats’ health, says Pet MD. However, it is best to feed your cat a nutritious diet as well as plain water.
Check Out: Are Cats Lactose Intolerant?
Simply boil bones without adding salt or any other additive. The liquid that results can be fed as a tasty, nutritious treat that is also straightforward to make.
While not recommended, goat milk is generally safer for felines as it contains shorter chains of fatty acids, making it easier to digest. It also includes a slightly lesser amount of lactose so it is generally better tolerated.
Mother’s Milk/Milk Replacer
This is needed in a kitten’s first stages of life for their rapid growth, and bone and teeth development. Kittens slowly wean off their mother’s milk in about 4-6 weeks.
Products Cats Should Never Consume
Keep your furry friend far away from foods that are toxic to them. They can cause severe digestive problems, organ failure, seizures, difficulty breathing, and in extreme cases, death. These include chocolate, alcohol, onions, citrus fruits, raw bread dough, raisins, and grapes.
What Kind Of Milk Can Cats Drink?
Cats cannot have any dairy products as they are lactose intolerant. They should only drink fresh water.
However, if you want to give your cat some form of milk, goat’s milk, lactose-free milk and commercially available cat’s milk are all viable options. All in moderation, of course, as none of them is an ideal diet for your feline.
Is Buttermilk okay for Kittens? / What Kind of Milk Can Kittens Drink?
Buttermilk is generally better tolerated in kittens than in adult cats as kittens contain the enzyme lactase in their system, which helps them digest their mother’s milk. It also includes a high amount of fat required for their growth.
However, it is not an ideal diet for kittens as it does not meet any other nutritional requirements. Only mother’s milk or kitten milk replacer should be given to your baby felines.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Bottom Line on Can Cats Drink Buttermilk
Dairy is not easily tolerated by cats and can make them sick; therefore it is not advisable to give them buttermilk. However, we all enjoy giving our pet the occasional treat, for which alternative, much healthier options are available.
Who is Isabella?
My name is Isabella, and I am a dedicated and knowledgeable cat enthusiast. With years of experience caring for cats and a deep love for felines, I made a mission to help other cat lovers navigate the challenges of cat ownership.