A cat’s desire for milk is an age-old tale. However, recent research into feline diet has revealed that cow’s milk is harmful. What methods do you have for offering your cat a refreshing glass of milk? Can cats drink coconut milk without getting sick? It’s safe to say that cats won’t get sick from drinking coconut milk, but how about their health?
The community is divided on this issue. As it turns out, moderation is essential. Let’s cut to the chase so you can decide if your cat is a good candidate for coconut milk.
Can Cats Digest Coconut Milk?
If you’re a cat owner, you probably already know that, despite their apparent preference, cats shouldn’t drink cow’s milk. The inability of cats to properly digest cow’s milk is a major issue with this food source. All cats and dogs have an intolerance to the lactose found in milk.
Even though coconut milk is lactose-free because it comes from a plant, it can still be difficult for your cat to digest. Unfortunately for your cat, it lacks the enzymes required to digest coconut milk.
Since dogs are omnivores like humans, they get a lot of their nutrition from plant-based sources like fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, cats only eat meat and are therefore considered carnivores. Problems may arise if you deviate from their normal diet.
Plant proteins are poorly absorbed by your cat’s digestive system. There are more differences than similarities between animal and plant proteins. Actually, all you’re doing is making their digestive system work harder to process foods they shouldn’t have.
Coconuts are a good source of healthy fats and oils for humans in addition to the proteins they contain. Repeated consumption of these high-calorie foods can lead to weight gain in cats.
All About Coconut Milk
Most of us already know that coconuts are native to the tropics and are a staple ingredient in many Thai and Southeast Asian dishes.
Coconuts have two main components—water and meat—and it’s interesting to note that coconut milk doesn’t actually come from the coconut itself. Coconuts are harvested for their water when they are still young and green.
Coconut milk (which contains about 50% water) is made from blending the coconut’s brown, mature flesh with water.
By finely grating the coconut meat and then boiling it in water, you can create a coconut milk with a thick consistency. To make coconut milk, strain the mixture through cheesecloth.
Thinner coconut milk is made by re-boiling and straining the coconut meat that is still in the cheesecloth after making thick coconut milk.
A Look at Coconut Milk Ingredients
Due to their nutritional value, medicinal qualities, and general health benefits, coconuts are increasingly being seen as a panacea. However, you should be aware of the potential dangers before feeding your cat coconut milk. Brands may vary in some ingredients but otherwise offer comparable products.
Coconuts and sugar are the two primary components of most coconut milk options. Both of these things aren’t normally found in a cat’s diet.
Even though they aren’t toxic, cats shouldn’t eat coconuts. In the wild, no cat would knowingly consume coconut, and thus their digestive systems were never evolved to process the plant protein.
Cats shouldn’t eat sugar anyway, but they have no taste for it. Unfortunately, cats are born without the ability to detect sweet flavors. Their flavor profile just doesn’t have room for it. So, the idea that your cat prefers one type of milk over another due to its sweetness is not supported by evidence.
Do Cats Benefit from Coconut Milk?
As humans, we are well aware of the many health benefits provided by coconut milk. Vitamins, iron, selenium, magnesium, and calcium can all be found in abundance. It’s good for the heart and helps lower blood pressure. Just people, in this case.
This is not the case for cats, though. While it may not be ideal for cats, does it have any benefits beyond its lack of ideal fats, sugars, and proteins?
The truth is that coconut milk offers no benefits to cats beyond what they already get from their regular diet. The drawbacks, therefore, exceed the benefits.
Potential Side Effects of Coconut Milk for Cats
Coconut milk may be fine in moderation, in the sense that it probably won’t cause any serious, long-term harm. The results will vary from cat to cat, but there are some potential drawbacks to giving your cat a steady diet of coconut milk.
Watch for responses like these:
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Gaining Weight
- GI distress
It’s safe to use in trace amounts here and there, but you should still monitor your reaction closely. There are inherently more sensitive cats.
What About Coconut Water?
You might be tempted to go with coconut water, but reconsider. Coconut water’s high potassium content is great for humans but toxic to felines.
Hyperkalemia is the medical term for high potassium levels in a cat’s blood. Weakness, collapse, and heart arrhythmias are just a few of the potential side effects.
Hyperkalemia is not caused by a single intake of coconut water, but it can develop with regular consumption.
A Cat’s Diet
To understand why cats shouldn’t drink coconut milk, it’s helpful to take a quick look at the typical feline diet.
Cats are classified as obligate carnivores, meaning that they can only survive on a diet rich in meat. Cats can only digest animal protein; their digestive systems aren’t equipped to deal with plant matter.
Cats are lactose intolerant; giving one a glass of cow’s milk will likely result in gastrointestinal distress (diarrhea) for all but the youngest of kittens. However, what about coconut? Is it more like milk or maybe a plant or a fruit?
What Should Cats Drink Instead?
Your cat doesn’t need any other kind of liquid other than clean water, so make sure to provide plenty of that. Your cat only needs meat and water to live. You shouldn’t feed your cat treats very often.
The most important thing to remember about your cats and coconut milk is to use your best judgment.
Don’t give your cat an excessive amount of coconut milk and expect them to be fine. Use sparingly, just like you would with any other tasty treats you give your cat.
To sum up, while coconut milk isn’t technically toxic to cats, it also isn’t exactly beneficial to their health.
Coconuts are difficult to characterize. They share characteristics with both nuts and seeds as well as fruits. However, you should not feed them to your cat because they are definitely not feline-friendly.
Always have a clean, fresh bowl of water available for your cat to drink from. Get your cat a water fountain to promote regular hydration and reduce the risk of kidney disease.
Just keep an eye on your cat if she has any coconut milk. There’s a good chance she’ll be fine, but if you’re thinking about giving your cat a new food, it’s best to check with your vet first. After all, you just want your cat to be happy and healthy for as long as possible.