What Is Almond Milk And Can Cats Have It?
Almond milk is, as the name suggests, milk that is obtained from almond nuts.
When it is in its natural form, the milk is characterized by a creamy texture and a nutty flavor. But when industrially prepared, certain brands may add more flavor to their almond milk so that it mimics the taste of dairy milk.
Almond milk is free from saturated fats, cholesterol, and lactose. That makes it one of the most recommended drinks for people suffering from lactose intolerance.
Now, this brings us to the question – can cats drink almond milk?
Read on for an insightful view on how cats can benefit from almond milk and any possible side effects that might result from the same.
Why Is Almond Milk Preferable To Dairy Milk?
One of the main reasons why experts recommend almond milk is because it does not contain lactose. And that’s good news for cats too.
Lactose is a type of sugar that is present in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
While the human digestive system can effectively break down this sugar, the same cannot be said of cats’. That is because felines do not have the right digestive enzymes for breaking down lactose.
So, what happens when we put them through a diet of heavy dairy products?
As there are no enzymes to digest lactose, the undigested lactose is pushed into the cat’s large intestines. Once there, the lactose interacts adversely with the digestive bacteria present in the large intestines.
As a result, your cat might experience a host of gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, nausea, gassiness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
These symptoms may appear anywhere between half an hour to two hours after eating a meal that is high in dairy products.
Though there are specific remedies often prescribed as a treatment for lactose intolerance in cats, the only sure cure is keeping all dairy products away from your cats.
Even better, you can substitute dairy milk with the healthier almond milk.
However, does its mere lack of lactose makes it the best alternative for cats? Is almond milk safe for cats? The following section shall unearth even more benefits of almond milk.
Health Benefits of Almond Milk
1. Low in Calories
The first health benefit of almond milk is its remarkably low levels of calorie. However, this pretty much comes down to how the milk is prepared.
It is important to remember that almonds contain almost 50% fat, and are reasonably high in calories.
So, when purchasing the industrially-prepared almond milk, always be sure to check on the ingredients list. This will help you get a better understanding of the calorie amount before serving it to your cat.
However, you need not fret, as most brands manufacturer almonds containing very low calorie content. Indeed, many companies use that very fact to push their products.
Due to its significantly reduced number of calories, you can serve almond milk to your cat without worrying about any possible weight issues.
A cup of almond milk contains a paltry 39 calories. The same cup of skim milk contains up to 78 calories.
So, when looking for the healthier drink between the two in terms of calorie count, almond milk is undoubtedly the go-to drink. But as we have mentioned, it all depends on the brand.
Certain brands may produce almond milk containing higher calories depending on how many almonds are contained in one cup.
👉 Some brands flavor their almonds with artificial sweeteners. Sugars and artificial sweeteners are known to react adversely with the digestive system of felines. In addition to that, sugar is a significant contributor to weight gain.
So, while checking on ingredients, ensure you settle for a product with low calorie count as well as low sugar content.
2. High in Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in strengthening the bones and muscles of your cat. A deficiency of this vitamin might lead to muscle weakness, generalized fatigue, and brittle bones.
Thankfully, you can now help your cat keep these diseases at bay by adding some almond milk to her diet.
One cup of almond milk boasts 2.4 µg of vitamin D. According to experts, that’s already 25% of the recommended daily intake.
Evidently, almond milk could be very instrumental in restoring bone degeneration and muscle weakness among sickly and aging cats. Less active and generally slothful cats may also benefit from these immense bone-toning benefits.
3. Lowers Risks of Heart Disease
Almond milk contains an abundance of vitamin E, plus a horde of healthy fats.
There are lots of fatty acids found in almond milk, all of which have been directly linked to a reduction in incidences of heart disease.
A notable mention is oleic acid. According to one study that was conducted among healthy adults, it was revealed that consuming up to 66 grams of almond milk for six weeks on end lowered the levels of bad/LDL cholesterol by up to 6%.
Also reduced were the levels of triglycerides, by 14%. On the other hand, good cholesterol, also known as HDL cholesterol was increased by 6%.
In the end, it was established that consuming plenty of almond milk is instrumental in lowering incidences of heart disease, not only among humans but cats too.
By regulating the blood lipid profile of your cat, almond milk improve its cardiovascular system significantly.
4. Also Nutritious
One thing you should note is that dairy milk is more nutritious than almond milk.
However, almond milk still packs a significant number of vitamins and mineral salts. We have already mentioned vitamins D and E, and the role they play in boosting your cat’s immune system.
Some of the other nutritional elements in almond milk include; protein, carbs, fat, magnesium, thiamine, riboflavin, iron, and zinc.
Sadly, not all these minerals are absorbed into your cat’s system. That is because almond milk also contains phytic acid. The acid is known to inhibit the absorption of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc.
When Is Almond Milk Not Recommended For Cats?
Though there are lots of health benefits in serving almond milk to your cat, there are certain situations where the milk may not be so ideal for the cat.
First and foremost, almond milk may contain the nut in it. This is especially true if the milk is prepared at home. As you probably already know, most cats are allergic to various kinds of nuts.
👉 Therefore, serving almond milk that also contains nut residues in it could spell danger for your furry companion. The cat might develop gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and vomiting, stomach upset and gassiness, diarrhea as well as abdominal pains.
These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the amount of milk your cat consumes and how allergic it is to nuts.
In most cases, your cat may not exhibit all these symptoms. However, you should always watch out for any signs of abdominal discomfort.
Another common hazard of serving almond milk to your cat is that the nut residues contained in the milk might be a choking hazard.
Again, this is especially true for almond milk prepared at home. Unlike the commercially-prepared almond milk where the nuts are finely crushed before being processed further, home preparations are a little less rigorous. That means the almond milk prepared at home could still contain potentially hazardous solid residues.
Experts also discourage pet owners from serving almond milk to cats that are already suffering from gastrointestinal issues.
Conditions like diarrhea and flatulence may impair the abilities of your cat’s digestive bacteria to break down almond milk. As a result, the cat may only develop further problems after drinking the milk.
If you are intending on introducing almond milk to a cat that is already used to dairy milk, you may be tempted to flavor your milk so that the cat finds the taste nearly the same as that of dairy milk. While the intention is laudable, the result is not always desirable.
To change the taste of almond milk so it can mimic that of dairy milk, you would need to add artificial sweeteners. But artificial sweeteners come with their side effects. Some of these include nausea to vomiting and diarrhea.
Lastly, as we mentioned earlier, almond milk is not the best when you are looking for more nutritious alternatives to dairy milk.
It may be a healthier substitute in that it does not contain lactose. But if you compare it with dairy milk side by side, the latter emerges as the better choice in terms of abundance of vitamins and mineral salts.
👉 So unless you are feeding your cat almond milk as a treat, you shouldn’t sweat over the fact that she doesn’t appear taken by the idea of almond milk.
Sweetened or Unsweetened Almond Milk?
We have already seen that most brands flavor their almond milk. This is done in a bid to improve its taste and make it creamier, just like dairy milk.
Most of the flavoring is done using artificial sweeteners. Examples of these sweeteners include stevia, strawberry, and vanilla.
This brings us to the question, can cats drink vanilla almond milk?
While vanilla almond milk is unlikely to be toxic to your cat, she is probably going to experience abdominal discomfort. This results from the high sugar content in vanilla and other artificial sweeteners.
Therefore, if you must serve almond milk to your cat, always insist on unsweetened almond milk.
Can Kittens Drink Almond Milk?
Kittens do not have well-developed teeth. Also, their bodies are still too fragile to handle solid foods. That explains why you will often come across many pet owners serving milk to their kittens.
But the fundamental question is – is milk safe for kittens?
Yes, milk is absolutely safe for your kittens. And it does not matter whether it is almond milk or dairy milk.
As we have already mentioned above, milk is probably the only food your kitten can live on before it gets strong enough to handle solid foods.
The best part is, unlike adult cats, kittens are not lactose-intolerant. When still young, cats can secrete the enzyme lactase. This is the very enzyme that breaks down lactose in the body.
However, as they grow into adulthood, kittens lose their ability to secrete lactase, thereby becoming lactose intolerant.
So, not only can kittens have almond milk, but they can have any other milk for that matter. The only reason almond milk is more encouraged is that since it does not contain lactose, the little lactase your kitten produces will not have any use after all.
How Do I Introduce Almond Milk To My Cats?
The best way to incorporate almond milk into your cat’s diet is as an occasional treat.
It should never form part of the cat’s staple food for as we have said, your cat will obtain all its required nutritional requirements from meat. Above all, you should only offer the milk in small, measured amounts.
👉 Experts generally recommend less than one cup of almond milk every day. One-quarter of a cup is ideal, but even then, you should only offer it as a treat.
In most cases, you should provide the milk as a reward for good behavior. For example, you could treat your little furry friend whenever it achieves an important milestone, such as learning to use the litter box.
Another ideal situation where you could offer almond to your cat is if you want to encourage the cat to take its medicine.
In any other instances, the milk should be provided as infrequently as possible, usually only upon the recommendations of your vet.
Even if your cat clearly demonstrates a strong liking for almond milk, be sure she is not gulping it down without close supervision.
What If Your Cat Accidentally Drinks Almond Milk?
Cats are known for their inexplicable curiosity. Therefore, you can trust them to check out anything new they come across, and that includes almond milk.
If you find out that your cat has helped herself to almond milk, the first question to ask is how much of the milk she has gulped down.
If the quantity is too little, say less than a quarter of a cup, then there shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. In such cases, the only side effects the cat may experience are mild to moderate abdominal pains.
However, if you discover that the quantity of almond drunk is alarmingly high, you should carefully monitor the cat. Cats react differently to almond milk depending on the amount they drink as well as their level of sensitivity to almond nuts.
For cats that are very sensitive to almond nuts, you should expect one or more of the following symptoms;
- Loss of appetite.
- Vomiting and diarrhea.
- Gassiness and flatulence.
- Abdominal bloating, pain, and irritation.
- Irritability as is marked by excessive licking and scratching.
Should you notice any of these symptoms, it is time to take action. If you don’t, more drastic consequences such as shedding of hair and weight loss might follow.
At this point, the life of your cat hangs by a thread, and it is imperative you consult your vet. The vet will be able to examine the cat and establish its level of allergy and intolerance to almond.
They will then advise you on the right quantities to offer to your cat, and how regularly that should happen. The best part is that the cat will also be examined for any other underlying conditions, especially conditions that could be worsened by drinking almond milk.
Are There Alternatives?
If your cat is showing strong aversions to almond milk, you should not fret as there are lots of plant-based milk varieties you can consider.
A great example is soy milk. One reason soy milk is encouraged is that it contains an abundance of amino acids which help increase muscle mass while reducing muscle wastage.
However, overconsumption of soy milk is linked to damage of the liver and thyroid glands. Plus, most of the commercially-prepared soy milk is also flavored using artificial sweeteners.
Another common substitute for almond milk is coconut milk.
Coconut milk is lauded for its benefits with weight loss and promoting heart health. On the flip side, it contains no proteins and significantly low amounts of carbohydrates. Instead, it has very high fat content.
We also have rice milk. But just like the two alternatives we have discussed here, rice milk comes with both benefits and drawbacks.
The most significant advantage of rice milk is that it is naturally sweet. Hence you do not need to sweeten it. It is also the least allergic of all kinds of milk, which means your cat will unlikely develop side effects after drinking it.
However, rice milk has lots of sugar, which again may offset the sugar balance in your cat’s system.
So, Can Cats Drink Almond Milk?
Yes, cats can drink almond milk. But perhaps the more appropriate question is – ‘’should cats drink almond milk?’’
Almond milk is plant-based, which means it has no place in the system of your cat. Felines only nibble on plants when they have to.
So, you should also offer almond milk to your cat only as a treat, and in small quantities. Though it is an excellent replacement for dairy milk, almond milk comes with its fair share of side effects. Plus, it has very little nutritional value.