August 11, 2023 6 min read

Can cats drink milk? Everything you need to know

Can Cats and Kittens Safely Drink Milk?

As a cat owner, you may have wondered whether it's a good idea for your feline friend to indulge in a bowl of milk. When it comes to our beloved feline companions, we often associate them with the image of sipping milk or even cream from a saucer.

In this article, we'll explore the common question, "Can cats drink milk?" and provide you with everything you need to know to keep your cat happy, healthy, and hydrated. 

Contrary to popular belief, based on historical depictions of cats with a saucer of milk or cream, stemming from a time when it was commonly believed that cats enjoyed and benefited from milk. Our understanding of feline nutrition has since evolved and milk is not a suitable beverage for most cats; there are actually many cats that are intolerant to milk as adults.

Kittens consume their mother's milk or specialised kitten formula during their early weeks, but they should be fully weaned by around 8-9 weeks old. Kittens possess an enzyme in their stomachs that enables them to digest the lactose found in their mother's milk. However, adult cats lack this enzyme and lose the ability to break down milk sugars. Because of this, most cats are lactose intolerant. They lack the necessary enzyme, lactase, to properly digest lactose, the sugar present in milk. Consuming milk can result in gastrointestinal discomfort, including diarrhea, vomiting, and gas. Therefore, it is generally advisable to avoid offering regular cow's milk to cats.


If Not Milk, How Can I Encourage My Cat to Stay Hydrated?

can cats drink milk?


Now that we know cats should probably avoid drinking milk, you must be thinking "I rarely see my cat drinking. How am I going to keep them hydrated?". It’s true, cats are often fussy about where and what they drink, in fact, cats in the wild would usually rely on their food as a main source of fluid which is partially why cats don’t instinctively drink and have such a high incidence of kidney and urinary problems.

We need to work with our cats to ensure they stay hydrated to minimise the risk of renal health issues. Below you will find some great tips on how to give your cat the best opportunity to stay hydrated all year round. Remember, every cat is unique, so it's important to observe your cat's preferences and behaviours to find the methods that work best for them.

 Now that you know that many cats cannot drink milk, find out:

11 Top Tips for Optimum Cat Hydration 

1) Proximity to Food:
Keep water bowls separate from your cat's food bowls. Cats instinctively prefer to have their water source away from their food. This separation mimics their natural behaviour in the wild, where they would seek out water sources away from their prey, to prevent contamination.
2) Bowl Location:
Place water bowls in multiple locations throughout your home; cats are more likely to drink water if it's easily accessible. Cats like to drink in private where they feel safe. By having bowls in different areas, your cat can quench their thirst conveniently no matter where they are in the house. There is also no law that says the bowl must be on the floor, try a countertop or a windowsill.
3) Bowl Material:
Consider the material of your cat's water bowl. Some cats may be sensitive to certain materials, such as plastic, which can alter the taste and smell of the water. Opt for stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls, which are easier to clean and maintain a fresh water taste.
4) Freshness:
Regularly change and replenish the water in your cat's bowl; cats are more likely to drink fresh, clean water. Stagnant or stale water may deter them from staying hydrated. Refresh the water at least once or twice a day, ensuring it's always clean and appealing.
5) Offer Alternative Hydration Sources:
Consider providing alternative hydration sources for your cat. This can include offering them a prebiotic drink like KittyRade or adding water or YummyRade to their wet food to increase moisture content. These options provide additional fluids and encourage your cat to stay hydrated.
6) Variety of Food:
Dry cat food has a low moisture content, and while it can be beneficial to dental health for this reason, an exclusively dry diet could contribute to dehydration in cats. Consider incorporating wet or moist food into your cat's diet, these types of food provide additional hydration and help support their overall fluid intake.
7) Gravy Toppers:
No matter what food your cat is eating, introducing additional liquid with their food will help improve their hydration. There are many options out there but something such as the low fat, low calorie YummyRade prebiotic meal enhancer is ideal without altering your cat’s dietary intake too much. YummyRade is also great because unlike some other options, it is low in salt with a very low phosphorus content meaning it is suitable for cats with existing kidney issues too.
8) Water Fountains:
Invest in a cat water fountain; cats are often attracted to running water due to their natural instinct. Water fountains provide a continuous flow of fresh water, enticing your cat to drink more. The movement also adds oxygen to the water, improving its taste.
9) Separation from Other Cat/Pets' Bowls:
If you have other pets, place the cat's water bowls away from their bowls, and provide separate water bowls for each cat. Some cats prefer to have their own space while drinking, and others may become territorial around shared water sources. This separation helps prevent any competition or discomfort that might arise between different species while drinking.
10) Shallow Bowls to Avoid Whiskers Touching:
Cats have sensitive whiskers, and some may find it uncomfortable when their whiskers touch the sides of a deep bowl. Opt for shallow bowls that allow your cat to drink without their whiskers being disturbed, ensuring a more enjoyable drinking experience.
11) Interactive Play with Water:
Some cats enjoy interactive play with water, such as playing with dripping faucets or splashing water in a shallow basin. Supervised playtime with water can be a fun way to engage your cat and encourage them to drink more water.


By implementing these strategies, your cat will not drink milk, and  you can help maximise your cat's fluid intake and reduce the risk of renal health issues.

 cat and milk

Introducing KittyRade: A Prebiotic Drink for Optimum Hydration and Gut Health

If you are looking for an alternative as your cat cannot drink milk, consider KittyRade. KittyRade is an award-winning prebiotic drink specially formulated to support the health and well-being of adult cats. It contains a mix of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and essential amino acids, including glutamic acid for intestinal function and taurine, which promotes eye and heart health. Additionally, KittyRade contains prebiotics that increase the activity and growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut, supporting good gut health, digestion, and nutrient absorption.



✅ Encourages Reliable Hydration in Cats

Proper hydration is essential for your cat's overall health. KittyRade's balanced electrolytes and palatable flavour encourage cats to drink more, ensuring they stay properly hydrated. In taste tests, cats have been shown to drink nine times more KittyRade than water.

✅ Supports Gut Health and Digestion

The prebiotics in KittyRade promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your cat's gut, contributing to a healthy digestive system and improved nutrient absorption.

✅ Promotes Kidney Health

Hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining proper kidney function in cats. Adequate fluid intake can help prevent future kidney or urinary issues by supporting the kidneys' ability to flush out toxins effectively.

✅ Convenient and Easy to Serve

KittyRade is easy to administer, making it a convenient solution for cat owners, ensuring your cat receives the hydration they need.




Proper hydration is vital for preventing kidney or urinary issues in cats. Cats with insufficient water intake are at a higher risk of developing conditions such as kidney disease, urinary tract infections, or urinary crystals/stones. By encouraging your cat to drink an adequate amount of fluids, such as KittyRade, you support their kidney function and help prevent these potential issues.


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While cats may have a historical association with drinking milk, it's important to recognise that regular cow's milk is not suitable for most cats due to lactose intolerance. Instead, opt for a specialised drink like KittyRade,which offers a prebiotic-rich alternative to milk. With its hydration support, gut health benefits, and convenient administration, KittyRade helps keep your cat happy, healthy, and properly hydrated. Always consult with your veterinarian to ensure KittyRade is a suitable addition to your cat's diet, especially if your cat has any specific health concerns.

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