We would get bored if all we ever drank was water. From coffee and tea to soda and milk, variety is the spice of life for human beings. For better or for worse, many of us project these desires onto our beloved feline friends.
Unfortunately, many liquids that are perfectly safe for human beings aren’t great for cats. Soy milk is one such beverage!
Soy milk, beloved the world over as a tasty and healthy alternative to traditional dairy milk, is extremely popular, much like almond milk. It comes in a variety of flavors, and there are even “light” varieties as well as brands that have added calcium for bone health. But can cats drink soy milk?
We know that cats generally don’t do well with a lot of dairy, so it stands to reason that a dairy free alternative could be a great idea.
Well, not so fast. While soy milk isn’t toxic to cats, there are some factors you’ll need to consider before giving your cat the soymilk from your cereal bowl.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- Cats and Soy Milk – What You Need to Know
- Can Cats Drink Soy Milk?
- Can Kittens Drink Soy Milk?
- Benefits/Negatives of Giving Cats Soy Milk
- Alternatives to Soy Milk for Cats
Cats and Soy Milk, What You Need to Know
Soy milk is a plant-based beverage that originated in East Asia. The “milk” (which isn’t really milk at all) is produced by soaking dried soybeans, grinding them up in water, boiling the entire mixture, and then filtering out the residue and pieces of soy bean. For human beings who don’t tolerate dairy, soy milk can be a delicious and healthy alternative to animal milk.
Whether or not to share soy milk with your cat really comes down to your personal feelings about “junk food” for cats. If you never, ever give your cat table scraps, you probably won’t start with a few laps of soy milk.
Soy milk doesn’t have any nutritional value for cats, and feeding it to them can have negative effects. This is true with many “human” foods, but some people feel that a little bit of something tasty now and then is well worth making their cat happy.
Because soy milk is not toxic in small quantities, and many cats will enjoy lapping it up, we’ve compiled some facts for you that should help you make a decision!
These kitties are enjoying a little bit of soy milk as a treat. But notice how little it is!
Can Cats Drink Soy Milk?
Yes and no. While soy milk in very small quantities (and only on occasion) is unlikely to do your cat any harm, it can be dangerous if you overdo it.
The reason for this lies in kitty biology. Cats are carnivores, which means they eat a diet almost entirely comprised of meat. Soy milk is a vegetable- based drink, and cats don’t have the necessary enzymes in their bodies to properly process too much plant matter.
In fact, soy (in any form) is pretty much indigestible for cats, and even just a few tablespoons of soy milk could have negative effects on their health.
But what if your cat begs for it? If your cat is inexplicably obsessed with soy milk, you can offer them a tiny taste (less than a teaspoon) once and a while as a special treat. But there are a few things to remember:
- Only give your cat a little bit! And only do so on occasion (no more than once or twice a week).
- Watch out for flavored soy milk. Chocolate and vanilla soy milks often have more sugar than the plain varieties. If you want to offer your cat a little taste of soy milk, only give them a plain, unfortified brand. Organic and unsweetened is even better!
- Watch your cat for any signs of digestive discomfort. If your cat has diarrhea, is vomiting, or is unusually bloated, don’t give them soy milk again. If the symptoms continue, bring your cat to the vet!
Can Kittens Drink Soy Milk?
Because kittens drink milk (the cat kind, not the cow kind!) it stands to reason that they can drink other milk-like beverages. But this couldn’t be further from the truth!
The milk that kittens drink, the one created especially for them by their mother, is completely different from any other type of milk, plant based or otherwise. Cat milk is extremely high in fat (in fact, it’s one of the fattiest of all mammalian milk) and contains antibodies and other minerals and vitamins that are crucial for a young kittens development.
Soy milk contains no such nutrition and may upset your kitten’s stomach. When choosing what to feed your kitten, the best thing to do is to purchase a high quality kitten food and stick to it!
If you can’t resist giving your kitten a little bit of milk, or if they have a hard time eating dry food without something to moisten it, you can supplement your kitten’s diet with a little bit of simulated kitten milk, which is specially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of a growing kitten.
Whatever you do, don’t give your kitten soy milk. It won’t give them any nutrition, and kittens should only consume foods that will help them grow.
These adorable kittens are being bottle fed by their owners. But you can be sure it’s kitten milk, not soy milk!
Benefits/Negatives of Giving Cats Soy Milk
There aren’t many nutritional benefits to giving your cat soy milk. While they may love the taste of it, it’s really just a treat and shouldn’t ever be a main part of your cat’s diet.
Giving your cats the occasional treat is wonderful- it gives them a little bit of variety in their diet and strengthens the bond between you and your special feline friend. If your cat is passionate about the taste of soy milk, you can certainly offer them a little bit of it once and a while, as long as it doesn’t make them sick!
A few words of caution: don’t give your cat the soy milk leftover in your cereal bowl, which likely contains extra sugar leftover from your breakfast. This is for the same reason not to give them flavored soy milk: cats and sugar don’t mix!
Alternatives to Soy Milk for Cats
Because cows milk and plant based milks aren’t that good for your cat’s health, the cat food industry has provided us with some alternatives. If you can believe it, there is an entire line of “cat milk treats” on the market, which offer your kitty that milky flavor without compromising their health.
These milk treats, which are liquid and come in little packets, are a great alternative to soy milk, and may satisfy your cat’s craving for a milky indulgence. There are many different brands out there, you just need to see which one your cat likes best!
So, Can Cats Drink Soy Milk?
Preferably not. With all the different milky treats for cats on the market, there is really no reason to compromise your cat’s health by giving them human food.
However, since soy milk in very small quantities is unlikely to hurt your cat, you can give them a little bit as a treat bit if they really like it.
Here are a few final reminders about giving your cat soy milk to drink as a treat:
- Make sure to only give your cat unflavored, all natural soy milk.
- Moderation is key! If you overdo it, soy milk can have detrimental effects on your cat’s health. A teaspoon or so is plenty (no matter what your cat tells you!)
- Watch your cat carefully for any signs that the soy milk isn’t agreeing with them. Bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting are all signals that they aren’t tolerating the soy milk. If this happens, don’t give it to them again.
If this got you wondering about other non-dairy milks, then you can click here to find out if cats can drink coconut milk.
Does your cat beg for soy milk when you take it out of the fridge? How do you deal? Have you tried any of the milk treats for cats? We want to hear all about how you satisfy your cat’s craving for milk in the comments!