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It’s almost hard to find a TV or movie portrayal of cats that don’t mention cats’ apparent love for milk and other dairy products. However, all milks are not created the same, especially the more dense types such as evaporated milk. But can cakes have evaporated milk?
Cats should not have evaporated milk. Cats are lactose intolerant and cannot effectively process the concentrated lactose in evaporated milk. Evaporated milk also contains high amounts of concentrated fat and lacks a good balance of other nutrients to support a cats health.
Unfortunately, despite all those cartoon portrayals, most cats shouldn’t have milk even as a treat. Since evaporated milk concentrates the components in milk without processing the lactose or other excess nutrients in the milk, it’s even worse than plain milk for your cat.
Here’s what you need to know about why your cat shouldn’t have evaporated milk, why milk isn’t generally suitable for cats, and some safer and healthier milk you can feed cats.
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Is Evaporated Milk Safe For Cats
Evaporated milk isn’t considered safe for cats for a variety of reasons. However, it’s not necessarily an emergency if your cat accidentally gets a couple of licks of evaporated milk while you’re baking.
The main problem with evaporated milk is that it contains a large amount of lactose, which will irritate your cat’s digestive system. Lactose, a sugar ordinary in milk, is mostly only digestible by mammals in their infant stage. The enzymes your cat needs to process lactose become less and less available as your cat gets older until they’re gone as an adult.
That’s because cats, like most mammals, don’t need the unique blend of nutrients found in their milk as they get old enough to eat and hunt different kinds of food, instead of continuing to produce an unneeded enzyme, your cat’s digestive system re-specializes to make better use of its new food sources.
Since their body can’t digest the lactose in evaporated milk any longer, that lactose is likely to cause gas, diarrhea, and other gastric distress if your cat eats it. That may mean a messy and uncomfortable few hours for your cat and a stinky litterbox cleaning for you, but thankfully most reactions will resolve without needing a vet.
The other problem with evaporated milk is that it’s essentially milk concentrate. Since evaporated milk is made from cow’s milk, it’s also a milk designed for an animal much much larger than your cat.
That means that evaporated milk contains far more calories, fats, proteins, and other nutrients than your cat needs in their diet. That concentration of nutrients can further irritate their digestive system, and even a relatively small amount of evaporated milk may contribute to weight gain and other metabolic problems.
Fortunately, the metabolic issues associated with cats drinking evaporated milk are long-term issues.
In the short term, there may be a more critical issue. Evaporated milk contains less water than milk solids, which means it’s more dehydrating than regular milk.
Combine that with gastric distress and diarrhea, and you have a recipe for a dehydrated cat. That means that a cat that drinks a lot of evaporated milk will need free access to water and may need additional hydration support from you or your vet to help them handle the evaporated milk.
While drinking evaporated milk is rarely a medical emergency, you may still want to contact your vet if your cat seems particularly distressed or exhausted after drinking it, mainly if they got a large serving.
You can also ask your vet for advice on how to help your cat stay hydrated after drinking evaporated milk and how to deal with diarrhea and comfort other symptoms of digestive distress.
Can Newborn Kittens Drink Evaporated Milk
No, newborn kittens should not be given evaporated milk. Feeding a kitten evaporated milk can be even more dangerous than giving an adult cat evaporated milk since their digestive systems aren’t ready to handle so many concentrated sugars, fats, and other nutrients.
Even though kittens can theoretically process more lactose than adult cats, it still doesn’t prepare them to process as much lactose as is found in a kitten-serving of evaporated milk. Plus, like adult cats, evaporated milk is likely dehydrated rather than hydrating, which puts additional stress on their young digestive systems and kidneys. Worse, diarrhea can further dehydrate your kitten making it even harder for them to recover from drinking evaporated milk.
Plus, evaporated milk contains the wrong mix of nutrients and doesn’t contain the critical vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that your kitten needs. Not getting those nutrients and enzymes can seriously interfere with your kitten’s digestive system and make it harder for them to develop a normal and healthy microbiome.
If your kitten does drink some evaporated milk, it’s best to contact your vet immediately to help support them and make sure they have the care and attention they need. Depending on how much evaporated milk your kitten drank, the vet may recommend that you take them in for emergency monitoring.
Can You Give Cats Carnation
No. Carnation evaporated milk is just as bad for your cats as other kinds of evaporated milk, and it’s not a good idea to give your cat any amount of evaporated milk. That doesn’t mean your cat won’t show interest in Carnation, especially if you have an open can around for cooking or baking.
No matter how interested your feline friend is, it’s essential to keep them away and prevent them from drinking the milk. While drinking a small amount of Carnation usually isn’t an emergency, a cat drinking a large amount of Carnation can be.
Even if your cat only gets a small amount of Carnation, you should still be prepared for gastric distress, diarrhea that may not be controllable, and other problems for a few hours or days. You’ll need to give your cat a gentle hydration-supportive diet to help their digestive system recover and make sure they stay well-hydrated and otherwise healthy.
Can Cats Eat Sweetened Condensed Milk
No, cats should not eat sweetened condensed milk. If anything, sweetened condensed milk is even worse for cats than evaporated milk since it’s got many added sugars that your cat doesn’t need. While cats can’t taste sugars, that doesn’t mean they can’t digest them. Too much sugar in your cat’s diet can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other serious health problems over time.
Sweetened condensed milk has added sugar, but it still has all the same issues as evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk still has far too many calories and out-of-balance nutrients compared with what your cat needs in its diet. It also still has too much lactose for your cat to process, which means it’s likely to cause gas and diarrhea.
Condensed milk also carries the same dehydration risk as evaporated milk. If your cat does get into sweetened condensed milk, you should make sure you’re offering your cat plenty of water and other hydration support. You should also call your vet for advice about caring for your cat and whether you need to bring them in for monitoring.
What Kind Of Milk Can Cats Drink
Some cats can tolerate small amounts of cow’s milk, but usually no more than a tablespoon at a time. While cow’s milk can be a good treat for your cat, it’s not a suitable meal replacement and shouldn’t be a significant part of your cat’s diet.
However, if you’re looking for milk that’s a little better for your cat, you might want to steer clear of cow’s milk. Goat milk is a better option with lower calories, lower fat, and even lower lactose. Unfortunately, goat’s milk still isn’t good for your cat and shouldn’t be a significant part of their diet if you choose to give it to them.
Plant milks aren’t suitable for cats simply because they don’t contain the right mix of fats and proteins and a lot of it isn’t very digestible to cats since they’re obligate carnivores and need to get most of their calories and nutrients from meat.
Ideally, your cat won’t need milk in their diet at all because you’ll have plenty of food and hydration designed for cats. That way, milk is unnecessary, and you don’t have to worry about your cat’s reaction to milk.
What Kind Of Milk Can You Give Newborn Kittens
Newborn kittens shouldn’t be given cow’s milk or goat’s milk since both can mess with their digestive systems before they have a chance to get established.
Instead of using milk, even watered milk, for newborn kittens, try and get your hands on some kitten formula or milk that’s been processed to be safe for cats. Kitten formula is the better option, but cat milk will give them a better foundation to start on than regular cow’s milk or goat milk.
Plant milk is arguably even worse for kittens than adult cats since their digestive systems really can’t handle that kind of food. Evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milks are even worse for kittens since they are highly concentrated and contain a higher percentage of nutrients than kittens can handle.
If you’re in an emergency and you don’t have kitten formula available, there are a few homemade kitten formula recipes you can use in a pinch. Egg yolk or thinned yogurt can be a true emergency alternative, though you should still get kitten formula as soon as possible.
Calling a vet or animal rescue for advice on options in an emergency is also a good idea because they might be able to come up with fast options that will address your kitten’s specific condition.
Is There A Milk Substitute For Cats
While most cats don’t need milk specifically, there are some substitutes for cats if you want to give them a treat. Some companies have made a lactose-free or nearly lactose-free milk product that’s more suitable for cats. Some versions also dilute the milk to be closer to the nutrient and caloric concentrations needed by cats.
Things To Consider
Don’t worry too much if you’ve fed your cats milk in the past. Many cat owners feed cats and kittens milk without realizing how bad milk can be for them and then don’t know why their cats have diarrhea afterward.
It’s not your fault if you’ve given your cat’s milk; a lot of media makes it seem like cats love and can benefit from milk. Much like rabbits, which shouldn’t eat carrots despite Bugs Bunny’s love of the vegetable, cats shouldn’t have milk.
If your cat has gotten into some milk, the chances are that they’ll be fine. Explosive or watery diarrhea is a strong possibility, though some cats can tolerate a small amount of milk.
Cats that can drink milk can enjoy it because they have slightly more enzymes that break down lactose. However, that doesn’t mean they can have as much as they want or that it’s good for them. Even if your cat can process lactose, they’ll still have problems from too many calories and an overabundance of other nutrients.
Worse, using milk as a part of your cat’s diet can sometimes mean that they don’t get all the critical nutrients and supplements they need. Enzymes like taurine, which cats usually get from eating fresh raw meat, are critical for their overall health. Unless supplemented for cats, milk doesn’t contain the right balance of those vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
That means that even if your cat is getting more calories than they need, they can suffer from a form of malnutrition if they have too much milk in their diet without other foods.