Yes, cats can have almond milk. If you add a little almond milk to your morning coffee, feel free to share a bit of it with your feline friend. However, as with most human foods that are considered safe for cats, you still should use almond milk in moderation.
Can Cats Drink Any Type of Almond Milk?
Before we get into giving almond milk to your cat, let’s first explore what almond milk is. If you’re new to non-dairy milk, or plant-based milk, you may be wondering what almond milk even is.
Almond milk is made by blending almonds with water and them removing any solid bits. It’s thick and creamy like cow’s milk but has a slightly nutty flavor. It still contains some of the health benefits that almonds do, like protein, vitamins, and minerals, but in much more watered-down levels. Most brands will be fortified with these things to boost the nutritional content.
With this in mind, there is nothing in almond milk that is toxic to cats, as long as the sweetener xylitol isn’t on the ingredients list. It also is lactose-free should you have a cat that’s sensitive or allergic to dairy.
However, some brands may have added sugars, sweeteners, or fats that can cause digestive upset.
How Much Almond Milk Can Cats Have?
Rather than give you an exact measurement of almond milk that is safe for kitty, let’s look at some guidelines.
Whenever you give your cat new human food treats, always start small and monitor the effects. Start with a few teaspoons and see how your cat reacts. If it’s smooth sailing, you can up that amount to a couple of tablespoons.
However, even if your cat takes to almond milk like a fish to water, it shouldn’t become a staple in their diet. Instead, use it only as a treat for rewarding good behavior, hiding medicine, or sharing a special bonding moment.
Keep the amount of almond milk that you give your cat in one sitting to under one cup.
What Are the Side Effects of Drinking Almond Milk?
Almond milk is used by people with lactose intolerance or those on a vegan diet as a substitute for cow’s milk. This is because it doesn’t contain lactose, the sugar that is most responsible for milk allergies or sensitivities. Believe it or not, most cats are lactose intolerant, so sharing a bit of cow’s milk with them may have detrimental effects.
Almond milk doesn’t contain lactose, but it does contain healthy nutrients such as omega fatty acids for a healthy heart, skin, and haircoat and protein. It may also be fortified with calcium and vitamin D, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
Almond milk is also low in carbohydrates and contains about half the calories of cow’s milk. It’s important to know that feeding your kitty a high-quality cat food will cover all of their nutritional bases, so there’s no need to give them almond milk as a dietary supplement.
Again, almond milk in itself doesn’t cause issues; it’s generally the additional ingredients put there to fortify the product that can become a problem.
Too much sugar or fat can cause digestive upset similar to those seen with cow’s milk and can include:
- Gas and bloating
- Abdominal discomfort
If your kitty is experiencing any of these symptoms after drinking almond milk, cut back on the amount and frequency, or leave it out of their diet. Getting unsweetened versions may cut down on the side effects as well.
What Types of Milk Can Cats Drink?
In case you just can’t help yourself from sharing a creamy treat with your kitty, stick to the kinds of milk that are safe and least likely to cause problems.
With any type of milk, always start small and monitor your cat for side effects before you give them anymore. Keep it as a treat and not as a regular part of their diet.
1. Non-Dairy Milk
These are plant-based milk varieties that can be made from nuts, coconut, soy, hemp, rice, oat, or peas. They don’t contain lactose and are usually lower in fat and calories than cow’s milk. However, ingredients to avoid would include added sugars and sweeteners, mainly xylitol, which can be toxic to cats, and milk made from macadamia nuts. Also, avoid any added flavors, like chocolate.
2. Lactose-Free Milk
These are usually dairy milk with the lactose removed. It may be a better option for kitties with lactose intolerance or allergies. These types of milk should still be used in moderation as fat content may still be high enough to cause a problem.
3. Goat, Sheep, or Other Animal Milk
Cow’s milk isn’t the only dairy milk on the shelves. It’s not uncommon to find goat, sheep, or even camel milk in stores. These products still contain lactose, but at different levels than that of cow’s milk. They may be fine for kitties that don’t have lactose intolerance but can still be high in fat and sugar.
Types of Milk To Avoid
There are some milk products that you should avoid giving your cat, even in small amounts.
1. Sweetened Condensed or Evaporated Milk
These types of milk are way too high in sugar and fat to give your kitty, even in tiny amounts. Even small amounts may cause digestional upset.
2. Cream or Full-Fat
Though it may taste better, cream or whole fat milk is too rich for even those lactose tolerant kitties. Stick with a lower fat or skim version instead.
Even though a saucer of milk is often associated with kitties, it’s not necessarily the best meal plan, even if it is almond milk. Almond milk may be safe for your cat and packed full of beneficial nutrients, but it may also contain enough fats and sugars to give your kitty an upset tummy. Keep almond milk as a treat that’s given in moderation rather than as a staple in their diet. That way, they can still enjoy some nutritional benefits and not get sick.
Dr. Chyrle Bonk has been practicing veterinary medicine since 2010. She lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons, where they spend their free time exploring the great outdoors that is right in their backyard.