Cats and Dairy Information (cont.)

Cats and Dairy Fact 2: Many Cats Can Drink Milk

Most of us have probably given our cats a bit of milk and never noticed a problem. That's because some cats tolerate milk just fine, Wynn tells WebMD.

How can you tell? Try offering your cat a tablespoon or two of milk. If you don't see symptoms within a day, chances are good your feline friend will do fine with milk as an occasional treat.

Still, most veterinarians do not recommend it. Cats don't need milk, and the potential problems outweigh the potential benefits.

Remember that treats of all sorts -- such as tuna, meat, cheese, or other “people foods” -- should make up no more than 5% to 10% of your cat's diet; the rest of kitty's calories should come from a high-quality, nutritionally complete cat food. If you're not sure what that means for your cat, talk to your veterinarian. Also, remember that offering table food to a cat often teaches a cat to be finicky.

Cats and Dairy Fact 3: Yogurt and Cheese May Be Easier to Digest

Sometimes a cat that can't tolerate milk may have no problem with other forms of dairy, like yogurt, cheese, butter, or ice cream. That's because “different forms of dairy food contain varying amounts of lactose,” Wynn says.

There's two reasons for that. Foods like yogurt and ice cream are often diluted with other things, such as water or added fats. They may also be cultured, meaning microorganisms have digested a portion of the lactose.

So, if you want to give a sensitive feline a bit of dairy, the chances of an intolerance reaction are less with cheeses, yogurts, and other cultured dairy.