So many healthy options are popping up in the market and one of the most popular ones is substituting dairy milk for coconut milk. But is this delight safe for your feline friends? Can cats eat coconut milk?
It’s common knowledge that coconut milk is lactose-free. And with cats generally being lactose-intolerant, many assume that it’s okay to include it in their feline’s diet. But wait – remember that cats have a different digestive system!
What makes them lactose-intolerant also makes it difficult for them to digest plant proteins. And coconut milk is filled with these plant proteins that come in the form of oil and fat.
That said, coconut milk is not poisonous to cats. It has minor benefits to their health and must be given moderately. A coconut-treat-loving cat is not unheard of. So, if your pet is one of them, just monitor how much is being consumed and let her indulge, but don’t make feeding coconut milk to cats a habit.
Related: Can dogs eat coconut milk?
There are two schools of thought on the matter of cats eating coconut milk.
One side says it is okay to feed coconut milk to cats (but in moderation) while there are groups who vehemently disagree with sharing this with them.
While some cats do seem fine while ingesting coconut milk in their younger years, there is one thing that both camps agree on – as cats age, their gastrointestinal system deteriorates making them more intolerant of fats and oils, coconut milk included.
Knowing this, let’s not deprive our felines of this treat but always remember to monitor them if you do give them coconut milk!
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How to feed coconut milk to your cat
Did you know that cats’ digestive systems can only process milk when they are kittens? As the kittens mature, they lose the production of a vital enzyme essential to processing milk and related fats.
This enzyme is called lactase. Cats then survive as obligate carnivores – meaning they only have enzymes to process proteins that come from eating meat. Plant proteins are difficult for them to digest.
Know Your Coconut Milk
When faced with the many brands of coconut liquids in the market, you need to be sure that you’re choosing the safest kind for your feline. There are three versions of coconut milk that you may encounter so let’s break each one down so you don’t get confused about which one is best.
Coconut Water – This is the lightest of the three kinds of coconut liquid and may often be labeled as Coconut Milk but is more popularly known as Coconut Water. This comes from young coconuts, characterized by their green outer shells. In many tropical countries, it is imbibed fresh and direct from the fruit. It is light and slightly sweet but has a watery and thin consistency. For many people, it is a great choice for a thirst quencher.
Coconut Cream – This is the kind of liquid derived from mature coconuts that are characterized by its thick consistency and creamy flavor. It is extracted from the meat of the mature coconut that has been soaked in hot water. The froth that rises and is skimmed off is what we call coconut cream.
Coconut Milk – Properly labeled coconut milk is close to dairy milk in color and texture with its opaque whiteness and smooth texture when taken in. When processing the pulp of mature coconuts, after soaking it in hot water and skimming off the coconut cream, the rest of it is placed on a cloth mesh and the juice is wrung out. This is was is most appropriately called coconut milk.
Now that you know this, which type should you choose for your cat? As we have mentioned, coconuts and their by-products are in general non-toxic to cats.
But extra care must be given in feeding them to our feline friends.
Coconut water is the friendliest to the cat’s digestive tract since it has the least fat and oil in it. If you want to try introducing coconut milk to your pet, always give it in small amounts and be keen to observe them afterward.
But coconut water must still be shared in smaller quantities with cats. Although they are the coconut’s natural liquid and have considerably less of the fats and oils that come from coco pulp, it is rich in potassium.
While this is a bonus for us, the kitties’ smaller digestive tracts cannot process greater quantities of this mineral. This could result in a toxic potassium excess that can have an impact on your cat’s blood acidity and heart functions.
Tips When Feeding Your Cat Coconut Milk
When our beautiful pets beg and plead to taste what we are having, we might find it difficult to refuse them.
But when we are holding a coconut milk drink in our hand or food mixed with coconut milk, let’s be conscious and aware of how much we let them try. Here are a few reminders.
- Introduce coconut milk gradually by feeding your cat a maximum of 2-3 tablespoons only at a time and observe for any reactions for 24 hours. Discontinue if you detect any gastrointestinal issues such as wet stool, vomiting, or loss of appetite. Restless meowing could also be a sign of a tummy ache. If any conditions persist, take your pet immediately to your vet.
- If you are really bent on including coconut milk in your cat’s diet for any personal reasons, bake them into homemade cat treats, substituting the liquid ingredient with it.
- If your cat has this insane liking for coconut milk, then use it as an occasional treat instead of making it a staple. Never indulge no matter how persistently they meow.
- Coconut water is a safe alternative to quenching your cat’s thirst SOMETIMES only. It is slightly sweet to the taste and would be a nice change if your pet is being difficult to hydrate. A few tablespoons of coco water must be followed by normal drinking water.
- Choose the coconut milk you buy. It always helps to read the labels. Many of the coconut milk available are stuffed with chemicals and sugar. These added ingredients can be harmful to your pet.
- If you have a cat with health issues or known allergies, do check with your vet before introducing coconut milk in the daily diet.
- If you are fostering kittens without the mama cat, do not substitute with coconut milk. Instead, utilize kitten formula that can be easily bought. If you are not for these kinds of milk, find a lactating mother cat and add the kittens to her existing litter.
We love our cats and consider them part of the family. Just keep in mind that while we want the best for them, not everything good for humans will automatically translate the same for our cats.
Careful consideration and monitoring must be done when we share something that is not natural to their normal diets as felines.