If you're dairy-free or vegan, chances are good you have some almond milk in your fridge right now. Have you ever wondered if your feline friend can enjoy a sip of this nutty beverage? Really, can cats have almond milk?
The answer from most vets and cat experts is a general yes—but you should probably still pour with caution.
Read on to learn more.
About Almond Milk
Almond milk is made from crushing almonds, mixing the pulp with water, and then draining and collecting the remaining fluid. It has a subtle nutty flavor (say that five times fast!) and a smooth and creamy consistency.
Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Peanut Butter.
While almonds themselves are a good source of things like protein, fat, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium, almond milk contains far fewer of these healthy nutrients. Additionally, many brands of almond milk contain preservatives, sugar, artificial sweeteners and other flavorings that aren't great for your health.
That said, it's a decent and tasty choice for people looking for dairy-free versions of milk for their shakes, smoothies, cereals, and more. Most health experts advise consumers to simply read labels carefully if they choose to drink almond milk. Look for unsweetened varieties and brands that use more natural ingredients.
Why Cats Shouldn't Have Dairy
Beware the cliché of cats who love milk. You actually may want to pass on that bowl of cow milk for your feline friend.
Why? Just like some humans, most cats are lactose intolerant. It means that they can't properly digest the lactose found in dairy (lactose is a type of sugar). This can lead to symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting.
So, instead of putting out that bowl of milk, perhaps you've wondered if it's okay to give your cat a non-dairy milk. Sure, your cat will probably like the taste, but does that mean you can definitely give your cat or kitten almond milk to drink?
Can Cats Have Almond Milk?
In general, the answer is yes. Cats can have almond milk in moderation. There are a few reasons why this nut milk gets the green light:
First of all, almond milk (by definition) does not contain any dairy products. This means that there is no lactose, which, as we know, most cats don't have the stomach for.
Secondly, almond milk also does not contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to cats.
Thirdly, as mentioned, your cat almost definitely will love the taste. Almond milk can be a special treat that your cat will enjoy. Some cat owners may use almond milk as a way to hide the taste of medicine that's been mixed into their animal's food.
Some Precautions to Consider with Cats and Almond Milk
Let's say you've made your morning coffee and fixed your breakfast. You've got a few drops of almond milk left in the carton. You know almond milk is generally safe for cats to eat, so instead of dumping the excess down the drain, you decide to give it to your kitty instead.
Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Ice Cream.
But how much almond milk is enough for your cat, and how much is too much?
A good rule of thumb is this: start small, watch and wait, then go from there.
Like many domesticated dogs, some cats will consume more food and drink than their stomach can actually handle if given the opportunity. You should never pour a huge bowl of almond milk and leave it out for your cat without knowing how it will affect her first.
The best way to gauge how well your cat is tolerating almond milk is to observe her and her bowel movements over the day or two following her first slurp of the stuff. Pay extra attention to her within the first hour or so. If you don't notice any signs or symptoms of indigestion, then it's safe to assume she's not intolerant to almonds.
To reiterate, here are the key signs and symptoms of indigestion that you'll need to look out for:
By “start small,” this means you should only give her about 1/4 a cup or less to start. Just enough for her to get a taste and for you to observe how she reacts to it (if at all). You can pour it in its own dish or mix it in with her regular food.
You should never give your cat more than 4 cups of almond milk within one 24 hour period, and that's even on the extreme side. Even a cup may be too much for your cat, depending on her age, activity level, and health status. 1 cup has about 40 calories, so if you're not careful, this can add up quickly.
Health Benefits of Almond Milk
For one thing, it's lactose free, making it the safer choice for those who can't have cow's milk. It's also soy free and gluten free with little to no saturated fat and half the calories of cow's milk. It does have the omega-3 fatty acids that are the heart healthy “good” fat. It's rich in protein plus vitamin E, potassium, manganese, zinc, riboflavin and selenium.
Vitamin D and calcium are commonly added to this product to make it as nutritious as cow's milk. It's low in carbohydrates, so if you get the unsweetened kind it will not affect blood sugar. Read the label carefully to make sure you aren't buying any artificial ingredients or sweeteners.
If My Cat Accidentally Drinks Almond Milk
A few drops probably will not hurt your cat. However, you should keep an eye on her for the next hour or so to make sure she doesn't have a bad reaction.
If she has bloating, an upset stomach or diarrhea, your cat is likely allergic to almonds and almond milk is definitely not the way to go with her. Otherwise, a little almond milk now and then might be a healthy snack for her.
Click Here To Find Out If Your Kitty Can Eat Popcorn.
Can Cats Drink Almond Milk?
Sure – In Moderation.
If your cat is begging you for a bit of your tasty almond milk, feel free to give her a little bit as a treat.
Almond milk doesn't necessarily offer your cat any unique health benefits. She can get everything she needs from her normal cat food, whether that's dry cat food, wet cat food, or even a mix of the two.
But, almond milk doesn't contain any toxic ingredients, and most cats can tolerate almonds without issue. So a little bit from time to time won't hurt her.
Be advised: give her almond milk or any other treats sparingly. This helps avoid the gastrointestinal upset, weight gain, or even unwanted begging behaviors or disinterest in their normal food.
If you do give your cat almond milk, keep an eye out for any signs or symptoms of indigestion. If you see any, then don't give her anymore. For whatever reason, almond milk may just not sit well with your feline friend.
Lastly, be sure to buy high quality almond milk products. Avoid buying milk that has been sweetened or has a lot of artificial ingredients. If you wouldn't want your kids drinking it, you probably don't want your cat drinking it either.
- Cats and Dairy: Get the Facts by Wendy C. Fries on WebMD
- Cats Lack a Sweet Taste Receptor Xia Li, Weihua Li, Hong Wang, Douglas L. Bayley, Jie Cao, Danielle R. Reed, Alexander A. Bachmanov, Liquan Huang, Véronique Legrand-Defretin, Gary K. Beauchamp, and Joseph G. Brand
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