Cats can drink almond milk, but they shouldn’t. Although plain almonds aren’t toxic to cats, and therefore, plain almond milk isn’t toxic for them to drink, there are several reasons why feeding it to your cat isn’t appropriate.
Almond milk may have several health benefits for humans, but our digestive systems are much different than a cat’s.
Homemade almond milk is typically made from almonds and water, with the pulp strained out. In its simplest form, almond milk is still not a great item for your cat. But if you’re giving your cat store-bought almond milk (e.g. Silk, Almond Breeze, etc.) it likely has several additives your cat shouldn’t be consuming and that could even be toxic to them.
Here are 6 reasons you may not want to allow your cat to drink almond milk.
WHY CAT’S SHOULDN’T DRINK ALMOND MILK
The main reason you shouldn’t give your cat almond milk to drink is because cats can be allergic to nuts. Almond milk is obviously made from almonds, and so, your cat could have an allergic reaction to drinking it. Read more about why you should never feed your cat almonds here.
Allergic reactions in cats can range from mild (e.g. sneezing, coughing, irritated eyes), to more severe (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea), and even deadly if they’re having an anaphylaxis reaction.
If you give your cat a small amount of almond milk, and they’re allergic, you may not notice a mild allergic reaction at first. Or you may not even make the connection of the symptoms to the almond milk if the reaction occurs several hours after they lick your cereal bowl clean.
However, if they do have an allergy to almonds, and you continue to give them almond milk, that allergy can become worse with exposure and reactions can become more severe.
2) PLANT PROTEIN
Cats are carnivores, and their digestive systems were not built to digest plant protein. They can digest plant proteins, in small amounts, but not well since their ancestors ate meat for thousands of years.
Although your cat’s stomach may be able to break down small amounts of plant protein, it’s likely not as comfortable for them to digest and may cause indigestion. It’s better for them to consume animal protein than plant protein (but that doesn’t mean your cat should drink cow or goat milk, see the section: SHOULD I GIVE MY CAT REGULAR MILK INSTEAD).
3) ADDED SUGAR
Cats do not taste sugar and do not require it in their diets. Many store-bought almond milks are sweetened so they taste better to humans. But sugar in your cat’s diet can lead to obesity, which can lead to other health issues such as diabetes.
If your cat is diabetic, it will be especially important to keep them away from sweetened almond milk, as it can spike their blood sugar levels.
Cats require some salt in their diets, but too much can be toxic to them. Cat food typically has enough salt to meet their dietary needs, so any additional salt they’re consuming through human foods, is likely enough to push them over the limit of how much sodium they should have in a day.
If your cat consumes too much sodium, you may notice symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, seizures or tremors, and it may cause damage to their kidneys and even lead to death if untreated. It’s important to call your vet or take them to the vet clinic immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Cats are obviously much smaller than humans and require fewer calories. How many calories a cat should consume in a day will depend on the weight of the cat and their health. Giving a cat almond milk, in addition to their regular cat food, can easily push them over their recommended caloric intake for the day.
Too many calories can lead to weight gain and feline obesity can cause several health issues.
Some almond milks come flavored (e.g. vanilla, chocolate). Vanilla almond milk may get its vanilla flavor from “natural flavors” which can be used to describe a variety of ingredients that aren’t toxic, but aren’t exactly in their “natural” form either and certainly don’t benefit your cat (you can get a better idea of “natural flavors” in pet foods here, and in human foods here).
If you’re making vanilla almond milk at home and use vanilla extract, the alcohol content in the extract can be toxic to cats.
Chocolate almond milk is usually flavoured with cocoa, which contains theobromine and is toxic to cats even in small amounts. You should never let your cat drink chocolate flavoured almond milk.
IS ALMOND MILK TOXIC TO CATS?
Almond milk is not considered toxic to cats and is technically okay for them to drink. However, it’s not an ideal treat for your cat.
When wondering if you should feed your cat a certain food or not, a simple idea to consider is whether or not a cat would eat the food in the wild.
Cats certainly wouldn’t hunt for almonds, and it’s unlikely they would eat an almond in the wild if they stumbled upon one (if they’re being nutritionally satisfied). And they certainly wouldn’t have access to almond milk, so although you can give it to your cat to drink, it’s best you don’t.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE VITAMINS & MINERALS IN ALMOND MILK?
You may be thinking that all the vitamins and minerals in almond milk would have some benefits for your cat.
However, if your cat is eating cat food two times a day, or following a vet recommended diet, it’s likely they’re already getting all the vitamins and minerals they need. Almond milk really isn’t required to give a cat a balanced diet.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF MY CAT DRINKS ALMOND MILK?
If you left some almond milk in the bottom of your cereal bowl and your cat decided to help themselves, you likely don’t have anything to worry about.
You will want to keep a close eye on them and watch for symptoms that indicate they may be having an allergic reaction or experiencing indigestion.
In most cases, their reaction will be mild and may even go unnoticed by you. But it’s important to contact your veterinarian if you notice any serious symptoms, long-lasting symptoms, or changes in their behaviour.
Watch for an allergic reaction if your cat ingests any type of nut, including almonds in milk form (here is an hourly guide for dealing with an allergic reaction in your cat). The symptoms may include:
- Irritated eyes
- Swollen paws
If you notice any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian. More severe anaphylaxis reactions will require an immediate vet visit. Symptoms may be:
- Struggling to breath
- Acting lethargic
- Having a seizure
If your cat doesn’t digest plant protein well or if the milk is too high in fat for their digestive system, they may experience indigestion. Symptoms of indigestion typically aren’t serious, but if your cat seems uncomfortable, won’t eat, or has more serious symptoms (e.g. vomiting, diarrhea) for an extended period of time, it’s important to contact your veterinarian.
With indigestion, your cat may experience:
- Stomach pain
Long term, if you allow your cat to drink almond frequently, it can lead to obesity. Obesity in cats can cause serious health issues and generally lower their quality of life.
CAN I LET MY CAT DRINK ALMOND MILK AS A TREAT?
Given the risks involved with a cat drinking almond milk, there really isn’t a reason to give it to them, even as a treat.
If you give your cat almond milk as a treat each day, by say, allowing them to finish the almond milk left at the bottom of your cereal bowl, they may fill up on the plant-based protein and forgo the meat-based protein and nutritional elements found in their regular cat food that their body needs.
Although almond milk is lower in fat than almonds, your cat’s diet shouldn’t have too much fat in it, or it can lead to weight gain. Feline obesity can lower the quality of a cat’s life in general, and have several health complications such as: diabetes, liver disease, pancreatitis, etc.
A small amount of almond milk occasionally isn’t likely to harm your cat, as long as the almond milk doesn’t have dangerous additives (e.g. cocoa, sweeteners, etc.) and your cat isn’t allergic to nuts/almonds. However, there are better alternatives to feed your cat as a treat.
SHOULD I GIVE MY CAT REGULAR MILK TO DRINK INSTEAD?
Many people think cats can drink milk, but aside from their mother’s milk when they’re kittens, cats should not drink regular cow milk.
Cats will drink milk, and enjoy it due to its high fat content, but most adult cats don’t produce the enzyme (lactase), or enough of it, that’s needed to help them properly digest lactose. After kitten phase, they produce less and less lactase and can become lactose intolerant like many humans.
Giving a cat regular milk as a treat can lead to weight gain and is likely to cause indigestion. Cats tend to hide their illnesses well, so your cat may get an upset stomach each time they drink milk, which could easily go undetected by you. If they drink a lot of milk you may notice vomiting, diarrhea, or signs that they’re experiencing more severe stomach pains.
Just because your cat loves milk, does not mean you should let them drink it. Just as we have a tendency to eat foods that taste good but don’t make us feel great, your cat will likely also enjoy foods that are salty, high-fat, fried, etc. But that does not mean we should allow them to eat or drink what they’re drawn to. They don’t know the difference between healthy and non-healthy foods, but we do, so we must protect them and take care of their health.
ARE OTHER TYPES OF PLANT-BASED MILKS BETTER?
There are several other plant-based milks, including soy milk, cashew milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc. However, they all sit in the same boat as almond milk; they’re not toxic to your cat (as long as they’re free from toxic additives, like the ones mentioned in this article), but they also shouldn’t be in a cat’s diet due to potential allergies, being a source of plant-based protein, and having higher fat & calories than a typical cat diet would consist of.
You may also be interested in reading:
- CAN CATS EAT ALMONDS?
- CAN CATS EAT PEANUTS?
- CAN CATS EAT PEANUT BUTTER?
- CAN CATS EAT PISTACHIOS?
- CAN CATS EAT CASHEWS?