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Our cat had an upset stomach not long after we first got her. We took her to the veterinarian, concerned that something more serious was going on. Long story short, we’d been buying her sachets of ‘cat soup’ or ‘cat broth’, commonly sold in pet stores. We’d assumed it was better to give her a meaty or fishy broth rather than the regular cat treats that we knew had lots of sugar in them. We also liked the idea that the broth was a liquid – better for hydration, better in general, right?
We’d explained all of this to our veterinarian, and she’d smiled kindly and said that veterinarians tended to make a lot of money from these sorts of products. Oh dear, we’d fallen for the marketing.
We’d assumed the broth was a healthier treat for her than Dreamies etc because it was liquid and would help keep her hydrated. Talk about a rookie error. The vet explained that sometimes these things were OK in small doses, but our cat may just have a more sensitive stomach. We left that appointment with a bill to pay, a handful of bland food to settle her stomach and the hope that we wouldn’t be played by clever marketing again.
We’re more careful now with what we give our cat, but there are still times when we wonder—is this OK for her to try?
Over the last year or so, we’ve been reducing our dairy intake. We drink plant milk regularly, and we’ve noticed her sniffing around the open carton of oat milk. But can cats drink oat milk? We’ve also recently learned that we can’t trust our cat to make a sound judgment on what’s good for her—last month, we caught her licking old wallpaper 🙄
Can Cats Drink Oat Milk?
Oat milk shouldn’t pose a problem to your cat’s health if consumed in small doses. It doesn’t contain lactose like cow’s milk, so there’s less chance it’ll cause an upset stomach. Although some cats are just naturally sensitive to these things if you are going to try it, start very small and build up to a tablespoon or two or stick to giving them water.
Check the ingredients before you give anything to your cat. The manufacturing process will be different for each brand, so always be aware of what’s going into your cat’s bowl. For example, some brands might use more salt or sugar. Others may have higher calcium phosphate levels, which can be problematic for cats in large doses.
We use Alpro with no added sugars. Although, we will sometimes give her a tablespoon of Oatly Barista.
Remember that portion size is important. Cats are much smaller than humans, and filling a saucer or small plate might be too much, especially if you have a small cat or a kitten. We give our cat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oat milk at the weekend as a treat, and she’s been fine. She loves it. Sometimes we put the oat milk inside a small ramekin, but she doesn’t always like the feel of her whiskers against the sides.
We use sugar-free oat milk because sugar isn’t suitable for cats. Although, sometimes, we have given her the regular oat milk version because it’s all we have. Our cat has a high-meat diet without sugar, so we don’t feel that an occasional non-sugar-free version is too bad.
We give her the milk once a week as a treat, but you should also be mindful of how many snacks your cat had that week. If you’ve been giving lots out, it’s a good idea to skip the oat milk this week. Equally, we sometimes forget to give her some, and she doesn’t mind – we don’t want it becoming a habit because as much as it’s not harmful, it’s also not nutritionally beneficial in the way that her main wet food is.
The critical thing to remember is that cats don’t need oat milk in their diet. Giving them high-quality wet food (which contains moisture) and ensuring they’ve always got access to clean drinking water is more than adequate for their needs. The best thing for them to drink is water, but if you give your pet a treat, then oat milk is better than cow’s milk.
We’ve not tried her on other plant milk like almond or cashew.
The biggest problem I have is that every time I go to the fridge to get the milk out and give the carton a shake, she thinks it’s time for her oat milk!
Can Cats Drink Cow’s Milk?
I’d always assumed it was OK for cats to drink cow’s milk. You see it regularly in books and on TV. In reality, many cats are lactose intolerant and consuming dairy could give them an upset stomach. Like humans, cats lose the ability to break down lactose over time, so if they’ve been weaned off milk for some time, drinking it again may give them stomach ache, cause vomiting or diarrhoea. Other cats will drink cow’s milk, no problem. Just remember that fats and sugars in dairy aren’t good for a cat’s health if given too often.
You can also buy lactose-free milk made specifically for cats. We haven’t bought any and can’t comment, but double-check the ingredients for any hidden nasties before giving it to your cat.
Goat’s milk is another alternative that you might like to try as it contains less lactose and higher rates of vitamin A.