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Can Cats Drink Oat Milk?

Updated May 30, 2022
Can Cats Drink Oat Milk?

Nowadays, many people opt for plant-based cow’s milk substitutes, and caring feline owners often wonder – can cats drink oat milk?

A cat’s gastroenteric tract is very delicate, and food that’s healthy for humans may sometimes be dangerous for cats.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case with oat milk. Although cats aren’t used to eating oats in nature, the grain poses no risk.

The truth is that oat milk is better suitable for adult cats than cow’s milk because it doesn’t contain lactose.

However, no cat is the same, and owners should be mindful of the serving sizes and watch for signs of oat milk intolerance or allergy.

Is Oat Milk Safe for Cats?

Many cats like dairy and find plant alternatives equally attractive, but is oat milk safe for cats? In moderate amounts, oat milk is perfectly safe for felines. It doesn’t contain any ingredients that are toxic to cats.

Still, remember that each cat is an individual. Like humans, cats can have unique food allergies, so you shouldn’t assume that oat milk is safe for your cat without a test, even if it’s generally safe for felines as species.

Starting with small servings and monitoring the cat’s reaction is crucial. Furthermore, commercially produced oat milk isn’t always pure.

Oat milk found on store shelves often contains sweeteners, sugar, and flavors such as chocolate or vanilla. Read the ingredient list on the label before giving your cat oat milk.

Although sugar isn’t toxic to cats, it can cause heartbeat abnormalities and restlessness if consumed in large amounts. Sweeteners aren’t any better – in fact, some sweeteners, including Xylitol, are extremely dangerous for cats.

Avoid giving your cat oat milk with preservatives, salts, and flavoring chemicals. Never let your cat drink oat milk-containing coffee drinks because caffeine is highly toxic to cats.

Ideally, buy organic oat milk for your cat or make it yourself to ensure it doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients.

Oat Milk Health Benefits for Cats

“Safe” and “healthy” are different terms. Oat milk is generally safe for cats, but does it have any nutritional benefits? Should you make oat milk a part of your cat’s daily diet?

In ideal circumstances, a cat should get all the necessary nutrients from dry or wet food and not need human food.

However, oat milk is actually pretty healthy and can be beneficial for cats lacking vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron, or fiber.

Fiber is a vital element in any cat’s diet, responsible for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and digestion.

A cat not getting enough fiber may struggle with chronic constipation, and oat milk is an excellent natural source of fiber.

Calcium is necessary for bone and teeth health, especially for kittens and senior cats. However, avoid giving calcium to pregnant felines without consulting a vet first.

Potassium is crucial for the normal function of muscles, and iron is necessary for the proper transportation of oxygen throughout the body. In other words, elements contained in oat milk are absolutely essential.

Still, cats with a well-balanced diet should get sufficient vitamins and minerals. Oat milk is an excellent treat, but owners who give too much of it risk overfeeding their pet.

Cow’s Milk vs. Oat Milk for Cats

Many people believe that cow milk is healthy for cats, but that’s a myth. The truth is that most adult felines are lactose intolerant.

Oat milk is a perfect alternative to cow milk for cats that love dairy but suffer from gastroenteric upset.

Kittens produce an enzyme called lactase responsible for breaking down lactose in the mother cat’s milk.

But with age, lactase production slows down or stops entirely, and many cats start experiencing gastroenteric issues from consuming dairy.

Lactose intolerance symptoms in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. On the other hand, oat milk doesn’t contain lactose and therefore has a lower risk of inducing such symptoms on your cat.

As for the nutritional values, regular and oat milk are relatively similar. Both are high in calories and carbohydrates, but cow’s milk is higher in protein, which is an advantage.

Oat milk also has a relatively high fat content. It’s a pro for kittens and pregnant cats but a con for overweight or senior cats.

Out of all plant-based milk substitutes, oat milk is the richest in nutrition. That’s a benefit for humans but may be a problem for cats with a strict diet.

How Much Oat Milk to Give a Cat?

There’s no universal answer to how much oat milk is safe for a cat because each cat is unique. Like with any food not intended for cats, moderation is key. Start by giving your cat a small serving – under a quarter cup.

Constantly monitor your cat’s reaction after giving it oat milk for the first time. Watch out for allergy symptoms or odd bowel movements throughout the first day or two.

If your cat shows no signs of tummy upset or allergy, you can assume that oat milk is safe for your pet. Still, avoid giving your cat over a cup of oat milk at a time, and that’s on the extreme side.

Because oat milk is so rich in calories and fats, too much of it can result in weight increase and related health issues in the long term.

Why Does My Cat Love Oat Milk?

A cat’s love for oat milk may be surprising for owners, taking into account that felines are carnivores. There are several explanations as to why a cat likes oat milk. First, a cat may be attracted to fats or chemical elements in the milk.

Oat milk is the closest alternative to cow milk nutrition-wise, so cats attracted to dairy are very likely to also like oat milk.

Some owners think that their cat likes the sweetness, but cats can’t even recognize a sweet flavor because they don’t need it evolutionary.

Another possible explanation is that each cat is an individual and has unique taste preferences. This version is plausible because some cats are also attracted to coffee or tea, which have no nutritional value.

Lastly, oat milk may remind a cat of mother’s milk, making it feel comfortable and safe. Whether the reason is the nutritional value, childhood memories, or taste preferences, oat milk is an excellent treat for your cat.

How to Spot Oat Milk Allergy

Although oat milk is generally safe for felines as species, some cats may develop an allergy to oats or another ingredient contained in the drink.

Therefore, you should know the symptoms of food allergy in cats to provide your cat with timely treatment if necessary.

Most food allergies affect the gastroenteric system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, burping, and discomfort when someone touches the stomach.

However, some cats may also experience topical reactions, such as skin irritation. If a cat’s skin is itchy, it may scratch it uncontrollably, which can lead to wounds and abrasions.

Sometimes, food allergies also affect the respiratory system, causing symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

In severe cases, a cat can develop asthma. However, respiratory reactions are more common with environmental allergies.

A food allergy is easy to confuse with food intolerance in cats. The symptoms are similar, but an allergic reaction arises from the immune system’s response, and signs of food intolerance originate in the gastroenteric tract.

The problem with diagnosing food allergies in cats is that there is no rapid lab test. The only way to determine that a cat has an allergy is by using an exclusion trial method.

Thankfully, oat milk isn’t an essential element of a cat’s diet. If you notice any allergy or intolerance symptoms, it’s best to avoid giving your pet oat milk ever again.

How to Deal with Oat Milk Allergy

Suppose you spot allergy symptoms in your cat; what’s next? If the symptoms are mild, your cat should feel better soon without special treatment. Ensure it can’t drink any more oat milk and try to ease specific symptoms.

For example, if your cat has diarrhea, you may administer probiotics or over-the-counter medications. Or, if your cat has a skin rash, you may use topicals locally to reduce irritation.

However, if the symptoms are severe, don’t postpone a visit to a vet. The vet may prescribe your cat antihistamines or make steroid injections to boost the immune system’s response.

Note that sensitive stomach issues may last for two to four weeks from the initial reaction. Avoid giving your cat any new foods during that period.

The “Cats Need to Drink Milk” Myth

The “cats like milk” myth stems from times when fresh cow’s milk was the warmest, richest nutrition-wise treat farmers could give cats.

Furthermore, non-pasteurized milk contains less lactose and more fat than commercially produced milk.

Due to this myth, some owners believe that milk is an integral element of any cat’s diet, be it cow’s milk or plant-based milk.

However, dry cat food contains all the nutrients your pet needs, and store-bought milk can cause more harm than benefit.

In other words, the belief in the importance of milk for cats is no longer relevant. It’s better to refrain from giving your cat milk entirely than to give too much of it.

Image credit: Pexels

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