If you own a ragdoll cat, you might be tempted to feed them milk from time-to-time – either to change up their diet, or as a treat.
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely unsure about the health consequences of giving your ragdoll milk to drink and whether it’s good or bad for them.
So, can ragdoll cats drink milk?
In short, ragdoll cats can drink milk, but it shouldn’t be their primary source of nutrition. Cows’ milk often contains high levels of lactose, which can cause digestive problems in cats with sensitive stomachs (such as ragdolls). If you wish to give your ragdoll milk, it should only be in small amounts and as an occasional treat.
Obviously, as kittens, ragdolls feed off their mother until they reach an age where they can be weaned off it and moved onto solids.
However, full cream cows’ milk is very different to the milk ragdoll kittens receive in the early weeks of their lives.
Personally, my wife and I have never let our ragdoll drink milk as an adult – we’ve always stuck to the mix of whole-meat-based canned food and dry food, which is the recommended diet for purebred cats.
In this article, I’ll explain all the health implications of giving your ragdoll cat milk to drink, to help you make the best, most informed decision possible.
Should ragdoll cats drink milk?
A ragdoll cat’s diet should not typically include milk once they reach adulthood. Too much cows’ milk can cause vomiting, diarrhea or other digestive issues. If you do give your ragdoll milk and they experience these symptoms, it’s best to limit their intake or stop giving them milk altogether.
There is no ‘hard and fast rule’ about whether your ragdoll should drink milk or not – however, if you are determined to incorporate milk into their diet, it’s vital you monitor their reaction.
If they respond poorly and show signs of discomfort, you should immediately cease giving them milk.
Here are some signs that your ragdoll cat may be lactose intolerant or had too much milk:
Diarrhea: If your ragdoll cat has watery or loose stools after consuming milk, it may be a sign of lactose intolerance.
Vomiting: Cats with lactose intolerance may vomit after consuming milk or milk products if it doesn’t agree with them. They may also have the same reaction if they’ve snuck outside and consumed grass, which they are also known to do from time-to-time.
Abdominal discomfort: This can manifest as bloating, gas or an overall feeling of discomfort. Your ragdoll may exhibit this by not allowing you to pick them up, hold them, or rub their belly due to pain.
Decreased appetite: If your ragdoll is experiencing digestive issues after consuming milk, it may lose its appetite or be less interested in eating. Monitor their food intake – if you notice them stop eating, it’s best to avoid giving them any more milk.
Dehydration: Too much milk can lead to dehydration, as it can interfere with your cat’s ability to absorb water from their diet. Symptoms of dehydration in ragdoll cats include dry mouth, sunken eyes, and lethargy.
If your ragdoll has any of these reactions to drinking milk it’s recommended to reduce their intake, switch to a lactose-free alternative, or remove it altogether.
What are some substitutes for milk to feed your ragdoll cat?
If you are worried that lactose may give your ragdoll digestive issues, you could opt to switch to lactose-free alternatives.
This could include:
Water: H2O is the most important, basic source of hydration for cats. If you’re concerned about how your ragdoll will react to milk and lactose, avoid giving it milk altogether and stick to water.
Commercial cat milk: There are several products available that are specifically formulated for cats. These products are usually made from a combination of water, milk protein and other nutrients, and are generally well-tolerated by most cats.
Goat’s milk: This is a good alternative to cows’ milk for cats, as it’s lower in lactose and may be easier for your ragdoll to digest. However, it’s important to still monitor how your ragdoll reacts and stop giving it to them if they show signs of digestive distress.
Homemade cat milk: You could also try make your own cat milk at home using a combination of water, milk protein, and other nutrients. This can be a good option if you want to avoid commercial products or if your ragdoll has specific dietary needs.
It’s again important to stress that milk should not be a primary source of nutrition or hydration for your ragdoll cat.
Nothing will ever be a sufficient substitute for water and if you wish to try and fit milk into your cat’s diet, either as a treat or on a regular basis, you must not neglect to provide them with enough H20.
How to prevent lactose intolerance in ragdoll cats
If you are truly concerned with lactose causing problems for your ragdoll cat – whether it be through giving them milk or other dairy products – below are some methods you can use to reduce the chances of it creating any issues.
Offer a balanced diet
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require a diet primarily made up of animal protein to thrive.
The best diet for ragdolls should be a mixture of whole-meat-based canned food, dry food and water.
Offer milk in moderation
If you do decide to give your ragdoll milk, it is best to do so in moderation.
This could be once a week, or once a month depending on your cat’s tolerance (monitoring their reaction will give you an indication of how much is enough).
Remember, too much milk can lead to digestive issues and malnutrition – neither of which is good for your ragdoll’s health.
Choose a low-lactose milk
One of the easiest ways to avoid lactose intolerance in ragdoll cats is offering them milk that is low in lactose, such as goat’s milk.
This can be easier for your cat to digest than cow’s milk and may lead to less disruption.
Monitor your cat’s individual tolerance
Some ragdolls may be more sensitive to milk than others, just as some humans may have different allergies or food preferences to others.
Pay attention to your cat’s individual tolerance level and adjust the amount of milk you give them accordingly.
Consult with a veterinarian
If you have concerns about your ragdoll’s diet or if you notice any changes in their health or behaviour, including sudden weight loss or gain, you should always book an appointment with your veterinarian.
They can ensure your cat is receiving proper nutrition and hydration, and can provide guidance on how much milk and lactose they can tolerate.
In summary, ragdoll cats can drink milk, but in most cases it should only be given to them as a treat or very irregularly.
If you would like to incorporate a dairy-like substitute into your cat’s diet, there are various lactose-free alternatives available.
However, if your ragdoll shows signs of digestive distress after drinking milk, it is best to limit their intake or switch to a lactose-free option.
This will ensure your cat remains happy and healthy.