• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Can Cats Drink Soy Milk? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Bynewsmagzines

Jun 9, 2023
a glass of soymilk and bowl of soybeans

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a glass of soymilk and bowl of soybeans
Dr. Athena Gaffud Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Soy milk is a versatile and delicious choice that can be added to coffee, mixed into smoothies, or used to make pancakes. But is soy milk safe for cats? It depends! Soy isn’t toxic to cats, and it isn’t going to do any immediate harm, but it won’t do your cat much good either, and too much may harm the thyroid.

Soy isn’t an ingredient recommended for cats, and soy milk often contains products that can make cats sick. Reviewing the ingredient list is the only way to accurately determine if your cat has consumed something you need to worry about. Contact your veterinarian if your pet has consumed something potentially toxic or shows signs of illness, such as gas, diarrhea, or constipation, after consuming soy milk.

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Is Soy Milk Safe for Cats or Not?

It depends. Soy in and of itself isn’t toxic to cats, so the basic ingredient out of which soy milk is made won’t send most pets to the hospital after one or two sips. But regular consumption of soy products can impact thyroid hormone production, so soy milk shouldn’t be regularly included in your pet’s diet.

soy milk
Image Credit: bigfatcat, Pixabay

Unsuitable for Daily Consumption

If your cat finagles a bite of your plain unsweetened banana-soy milk smoothie, there’s likely nothing to be concerned about. However, regularly giving cats soy-based foods — including tofu and meat alternatives — is best avoided. And make sure to reach out to your veterinarian if your cat gets into soy milk (or products that contain it) and starts showing signs of illness, such as diarrhea or constipation.

Unsuitable for Carnivores

Soy products aren’t great for feline health in general, and because they’re plant-based, they’re not well-suited for dietary needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they obtain nutrients most efficiently from animal-based proteins. While it’s generally safe for cats to eat plant-based foods, they often don’t absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from grains, fruits, and vegetables as easily as from meat and animal-based protein sources.

If you’re feeding your cat a commercial option that meets the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requirements for nutritional adequacy, your cat most likely doesn’t need soy milk to round out their diet.

Commercial soy milk is made to please human taste buds. Many include additives such as salt, oils, and preservatives to make them look and taste like regular dairy products. Some ingredients aren’t great for cats, and others, such as chocolate, can be outright toxic.

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Which Soy Milk Ingredients Are Toxic to Cats?

It’s impossible to state with certainty all of the potentially problematic ingredients that could be included in soy milk, as manufacturers add different products to create signature tastes. The only way to determine if a particular option contains anything potentially concerning is to read the ingredient list and evaluate each item individually.

But since it’s often difficult to tell just how much of a potentially toxic product is included in various human foods, reaching out to your veterinarian for advice is usually the safest option. The best way to avoid giving your cat something potentially toxic is to feed them products specifically made for cats.

Salt and oil-based stabilizers and preservatives are particularly common in plant-based milk. Both products can be hard on feline tummies and may lead to health issues when regularly consumed in excess. Also, some brands contain too much sugar for felines; others include additives that are unhealthy for cats.

Is It a Big Deal If My Cat Refuses to Drink Soy Milk?

No. Because cats are carnivores, they don’t need plant-based products to survive, and that includes soy milk! Cats often have specific preferences when it comes to food, so it’s totally fine if your cat doesn’t show interest in soy milk.

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What About Oat and Almond Milk?

The same general analysis applies to soy, oat, and almond milk. Plain oats are perfectly fine for cats to eat in moderation, but they can cause tummy problems in some cats. Almonds aren’t great for cats but are fine in small amounts. But neither oat nor almond milk is a solid feline nutritional choice, and you’ll need to review the label to determine if any given product is safe for your cat to consume.

Can Cats Drink Dairy Milk?

Most cats are lactose intolerant and experience gastrointestinal difficulties after drinking milk or lapping cream. Others can handle milk without too many difficulties. If your cat enjoys an occasional bite of cheese or sip of milk and doesn’t become sick afterward, allowing the occasional dairy indulgence is perfectly fine. However, small portions of milk and bites of cheese should only be served to cats that don’t experience stomach distress after consuming them.

Try to limit any treats you give your cat to around 10% of their diet to prevent accidental weight gain. But ultimately, cats don’t require dairy products to meet their nutritional needs, and they often lead to stomach problems, making them less than ideal additions to feline diets.

Cute Scottish fold cat drinking milk at home
Image Credit: Aquarius Studio, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Although cats are obligate carnivores, it’s okay for them to consume limited amounts of plant-based foods, particularly when already eating a complete and nutritionally sound diet. Soy milk, while often a great option for humans, doesn’t have the same health benefits for cats, and too much may affect thyroid function.

Many soy products contain additives and ingredients that aren’t great for cats. There’s no need to add soy milk to your cat’s diet, particularly if they’re eating high-quality commercial pet food. Reach out to your veterinarian if you have any questions or if your cat starts exhibiting signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or bloating.


Featured Image Credit: Makistock, Shutterstock

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