Ever since I started drinking my early morning coffee with almond milk, I have begun to appreciate non-dairy plant-based milk even more.
They are likely to be healthier, and, for me, they are tastier, and better! And every time I’m drinking almond milk I wonder if my kitty would appreciate the taste like me.
So I find myself wondering, ‘Can cats drink almond milk?’
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want my kitty to be sitting at the counter reading the newspaper, slurping from a bowl of milk, growling at me complaining about the rising inflation.
I don’t want to humanize my cute little kitty.
I just want her to have all the good and healthy things in life. If her human mommy can enjoy almond milk and its health benefits, can she too?
Can cats have almond milk? Is almond milk safe for cats? Those are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately.
So, I pondered, and here’s the answer I got. Let’s unravel it bit by bit…
Can Cats Drink Almond Milk?
Cats can drink almond milk, but we recommend that you only let your cat have almond milk in moderation.
Whilst it is lactose free and therefore a much better option than cow’s milk for cats, it is not adding anything nutritionally that they aren’t getting from a normal well-balanced feline diet.
Whilst it is almost completely free of cholesterol, almond milk does contain calories that your cat probably doesn't need.
Is Almond Milk Safe For Cats?
Dairy products, such as cow's milk, are not good for cats or kittens because of the presence of lactose.
Cats do not have the lactase enzymes required to break down lactose in the digestive system.
If they have meals made of dairy products, they end up with tummy aches, vomiting, and diarrhea. In a nutshell, cats are sensitive and require lactose-free milk (non-dairy milk) as felines suffer from lactose intolerance.
But, as we’ve said above, almond milk doesn’t have lactose. Like coconut milk and soy milk, it’s a common alternative to dairy products.
But you must check the label before you give it to your cats. Almond milk usually comes with added flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives.
It’s best to choose unsweetened almond milk without any added flavors if you decide to give your pets a treat.
What is Almond Milk?
Whilst it might seem obvious, almond milk is made from almonds.
The process used creates a liquid that has a very similar feel to cow’s milk, with a creamy texture but it holds some of the flavor from the nuts.
However, because it doesn’t contain any cow’s milk, it is lactose free and has the added benefit of being virtually free of cholesterol.
It is available in unsweetened and sweetened varieties and if you are considering giving it to your cat you should avoid any variety with added sugar or manmade sweeteners.
Making almond milk at a commercial scale is very simple (if not very environmentally friendly, as we cover below).
Almonds are soaked in water for between 12 and 24 hours and then pureed in water at very high speed.
The liquid is then separated from the pulp of the nuts leaving the ‘milk’.
Some trace of the properties of the nuts will be left behind, but at this stage the product is completely natural.
Unfortunately, commercially produced almond milk is then often pasteurized for long life and has sweeteners and other additives added for flavor and stability.
Wherever possible, look for the least modified and most natural almond milk you can (without any sugar or sweeteners) if you intend to let your cat drink almond milk.
Benefits of Almond Milk
Apart from not having lactose, almond milk has a number of benefits that can improve the overall health of your cat.
1. Low in Calories
Almond itself has about 50% fat and so is packed with calories. However, manufacturers of almond milk tend to reduce the number of calories in the product.
Even the marketing focuses on the fact that almond milk is much lower in calories.
You should still check the box to see the ingredients to be sure. The brand you pick should have low calories and low quantities of sugar.
This would ensure your cat does not put on weight even if it is drinking milk.
2. Packed with Vitamin D
Your cat needs to get an ample amount of vitamin D every day. Vitamin D helps strengthen your cat’s bones and muscles.
If your cat doesn’t get enough vitamin D, you will see them suffering from fatigue and muscle weakness. Their bones will be brittle too.
One way to ensure your feline friend gets all the vitamin D it needs is through almond milk.
One cup of almond milk comes with around 2 micrograms of vitamin D. That counts as about 25% of the vitamin D required on a daily basis.
Also, almond milk can be very helpful for aging cats and felines that are sick. Almond milk helps in restoring bone degeneration and aids in repairing muscle weakness.
Cats that are not active and usually just laze about could also use almond milk to help with their bone strength.
3. High in Nutrition
It’s not just vitamin D though. Almond milk is also high in various other important nutrients. It also has vitamin E, which can help boost your cat’s immunity system.
Almond milk also comes with important nutrients such as protein, potassium, manganese, thiamine, and riboflavin.
Other minerals you and your cat get from almond milk include magnesium, iron, and zinc. However, the milk also comes with phytic acid.
This acid makes it difficult for your cat to absorb these particular minerals.
4. Reduces Chances of Heart Disease
The vitamin E that you get from almond milk is good for your cat’s heart health.
It also has a number of healthy fatty acids, which have also been linked with reduced chances of suffering heart disease.
In one study among humans, it was seen that drinking 66 gm of almond milk for a period of six weeks was able to reduce the cholesterol levels in the body.
Bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol went down by 6%. Almond milk also reduced the number of triglycerides by 14%.
Additionally, it also increased good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol by 6%.
It has been established that almond milk reduces the chances of heart disease in both humans and cats.
Also, almond milk regulates your cat’s lipid profile. This will help your feline friend’s cardiovascular system.
As such, it is good to perhaps have just a little almond milk now and again as part of your cat’s diet.
When Not To Give Almond Milk to Cats
Almond milk has a number of benefits. But there are certain circumstances in which you should not give your cat almond milk.
For instance, cats can be allergic to nuts. By and large most cats can eat almonds, but there is little point in allowing them to (as they aren’t a natural part of their diet) and there are some hazards.
Almond milk made at home can have the nut in it, which can be dangerous.
You’ll need to make sure the milk you’re serving does not have residues of the nut in it. It can cause an upset stomach, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Your cat can even start having abdominal pains and diarrhea.
Depending on how allergic your cat is to the nut, the symptoms can range from mild to severe. It also depends on how much milk your cat has consumed.
The nut residues in the milk can also end up being a choking hazard, which is the greatest health threat to your cat from almonds as a nut.
This is also mostly contained in almond milk made at home. Commercially prepared almond milk is made with nuts that are finely crushed, so the chances of nut residue are minimal.
Experts also suggest that your cat should not be given almond milk if it already has gastrointestinal issues.
When it has diarrhea and other such conditions, your cat’s digestive system may well find it difficult to break down the almond milk.
Remember, almond milk has a high-fat content. Although the amount of calories is lower than other alternative milks, this still means extra calories through excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and ultimately obesity.
So moderation is key.
Sustainability of Almond Milk
For many cat owners a far bigger concern when wondering whether to let their cat have almond milk will be the issues over its production and potential effect on the planet and environment.
If you’re satisfied that it’s fine to give your cat a little almond milk on health grounds, this potential negative could sway your decision.
Most of the almonds grown and used in almond milk in America are farmed in California.
Almonds require a very large volume of water just to grow and that’s even before you consider the extra water needed to then create almond milk.
One average sized glass of almond milk takes around 16 gallons of water overall to make.
On top of that is the fact that the almond growing industry has a proven negative effect on bees and their environment.
Bees are the primary method of pollination of almonds in the U.S. and the ever expanding need for more almonds means more pressure on the bee colonies that almond production relies on.
Sadly, what’s good for almond milk isn’t good for the bees.
So, whilst a little almond milk might be OK for your cat, it’s not great for the sustainability of the environment and we all need to consider that as well as the happiness of our kitty!
Can Kittens Drink Almond Milk?
We’ve covered the overall suitability of almond milk for cats, but should you worry more if you’re thinking about letting a kitten drink almond milk?
The simple answer is that it’s the same for kittens as it is for adult cats.
There’s no need to let them have almond milk as they will be getting all their necessary nutrients from other sources.
And, the issue of excess calories is even more the case with younger kittens as they don’t need as many calories as an adult cat.
So, it might be fine to let a kitten have a small amount of almond milk but all the same points apply as if they were an adult cat.
Can Cats Drink Almond Milk: The Verdict
It’s clear that alternative and plant based milks appeal to humans for a host of reasons but we’re trying to decide on the questions, ‘can cats drink almond milk?’ and ‘Is almond milk safe for cats?.
As we’ve seen, unsweetened almond milk is absolutely safe for your kitty. Just make sure you read the label carefully.
There should be no sweeteners, nut residue, and artificial flavors in it. If your kitty is having gastrointestinal issues, skip giving almond milk.
And, if you do let your cat have almond milk, do make it just a little and don’t make it a regular thing. There’s simply no need.
If you’re giving almond milk to your fur baby for the first time, keep in mind that there’s a chance they will be allergic to nuts.
Keep an eye for symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. If they are obviously poorly then please do not hesitate in getting them to your local vets.