Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl Nissen: Sugary additives turn milky pet treat into lap of luxury

Whiskas Kitten Adult Cats Milk Plus Lactose Free $4 99 for 1 Litre. Photo / Supplied
Whiskas Kitten Adult Cats Milk Plus Lactose Free $4 99 for 1 Litre. Photo / Supplied

I've never met a cat who would turn down a saucer of milk. In fact, I managed to train one of my cats out of a very annoying yowly, attention-grabbing habit by simply giving her a little bit of milk once a day to make her feel special. But we all know that cats don't actually need milk once they are weaned and lose the ability to digest lactose. Some cats can still tolerate cow's milk as it comes but some develop an allergy and get diarrhoea. So I guess that is why this product has been produced. So that you can still watch your cat joyfully lap up a saucer of milk as if it was down on the farm, even though it doesn't really need it.

Whiskas Kitten Adult Cats Milk Plus Lactose Free $4 99 for 1 Litre

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first)

Milk

We all know milk is a great source of calcium so that's got to be good for a cat.

Malt

I have no idea why this is in here. How would a cat, in it's natural habitat, access sweet malt? Unless it lived in a brewery. As the second ingredient on the list there is obviously quite a bit in here. I have to presume it is in here for flavour as the packet says "the rich malty flavour and creamy texture ... cats love".

Sucrose

This is sugar. Your cat should not be fed sugar. Unfortunately there is no requirement to give a nutrition breakdown on pet food so I can't tell you how much is in here. But any amount is probably too much. And according to an article in Scientific American, a study has shown that unlike dogs, cats cannot taste sugar. They lack the amino acids that make up the DNA of the gene that taste sweetness. And some vets are concerned that the increased prevalence of sugar and carbohydrates in commercial cat food could be causing a rise in diabetes in cats.

Salt

I've never heard of salt being added to milk either. Normal milk that we drink has about 45mg of sodium per 100ml.

Emulsifier

This will be in here to keep the milk looking like milk rather than separating.

Vegetable gum

This may be to increase the fat content of the milk.

Taurine

Cats need taurine as they can't manufacture it themselves and most commercial pet foods have it added in. It helps regulate the nervous system and promotes thyroid and cardiovascular health. It is found naturally in red meat and fish and other sources are brewer's yeast, eggs and other dairy products.

Lactase enzyme

This breaks down the lactose in milk, thus making this milk lactose-free.

Thiamine

This is vitamin B1. It is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for normal carbohydrate metabolism in cats.

Water added

My recommendations

If your cat enjoys a healthy diet full of meat then as a carnivore it should be quite healthy, so it doesn't really need this milk and its added sugar, malt and emulsifiers.

But if you really want to give them milk then look for lactose-free milk for humans. I found Liddells Lactose Free Full Cream Milk for $4.69 for a 1 litre carton. And all it has in it is milk and the lactase enzyme to get rid of the lactose. Using this product means you are just giving your cat a treat of two natural ingredients and no added sugar. But, if you just want to give your cat a nutritious treat she will really enjoy, toss her a sardine. She'll get loads of calcium, taurine and fish oil.

- NZ Herald

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