Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Drink your milk, it's good for you

This week I'm feeding one of my neighbours' cats.  This one is a fairly sorry-looking article, white and tabby and unpredictable.

He was once called Pepsi, but after he decided to move a few door down and live with someone else he was renamed Morris.

He has, among other charming habits, a way of bolting his food in ten seconds flat, only to regurgitate it a minute later.

I have known other cats who have this sort of feline bulimia and usually they have been half-starved early in their lives and I suspect, have had to fight to get their share  of whatever was on offer.

In addition he is one of the numerous cats who are milk intolerant - or, more precisely - lactose intolerant.

There is a fairly common assumption that all cats love milk.  Not so.  There are vast numbers who thrive on water (preferably nice and muddy) but who become ill and in extreme cases, even die, if fed milk.

I sympathise.  Not so far as I'm aware, lactose intolerant, just a natural hater of milk, I've spent half my life trying to explain what I mean by, "just a tiny drop of - preferably skimmed - milk, in tea and coffee, and  none at all in anything else.

My breakfast cereal gets the absolute minimum of skimmed milk, just enough to dampen it, and the smell of full fat milk turn my stomach.

Centuries ago, when in primary school (known as infants school in those days), we were given free milk every morning, and my poor innocent mother who knew her crafty daughter not at all, was pleased to think at least one part of her childrens' diet was taken care of by the new "Welfare State".

I used to sell my bottle for a half-penny or if I had no takers, give it away,  And, if that failed, pour it down the drain in the playground.

The vast sums I collected, in the average week about a penny, were spent on carrots from the greengrocer I passed on the way home from school, and added to my mother's vegetables for the week.  She never seemed to count her carrots and it was not until she was about 60 that I owned up.

"Oh" she said, "but you always liked rice pudding"

I explained that half a ton of golden syrup, sugar was rationed, plus handfuls of sultanas and grated nutmeg on top compensated adequately for the less acceptable part of said pud.

We often talked, and eventually laughed about it, and my mother's theory was that since she and my father were desperately poor when I was a baby, she breast-fed me until I was ten months old and though I thrived it must have left a life-long impression in my brain that milk was a 2nd rate food.

Whatever the reason it is not only cats who turn up their noses at this most basic of foods.


  1. Dear Ray,
    Like you, I've never cared for milk. And yes, the bare minimum on the cereal and some in the tea, but never a whole glass to swallow gulp after gulp. I'd start regurgitating it! I don't know whether or not that's because I was born with a asthma and was allergic to milk. The only way I could face a glass of milk--even skimmed--was to have chocolate syrup in it.

    I like the picture you give us of you and your mom laughing over your youthful foibles.


  2. I was smiling as I read this, Ray, and thinking, as my mother used to say, that it takes all sorts to make a world. DH and I both love milk, preferably full-fat. In fact to me skimmed milk is an abomination, hardly worthy to be called milk. :-) I'm equally sure there are foods you love which I don't like.

    I agree with you, however, that many cats can't tolerate milk and the received wisdom not is not to give cats milk once they've outgrown kittenhood.

  3. Dee
    Thanks for regarding my youthful sins as foibles.
    Makes me wonder just how much I dare confess.
    I also have mild occasional asthma as well as other allergies. Perhaps there is a connection there.
    Luckily for me my mother had a well-developed sense of humour.

  4. As you so rightly say Perpetua, we are all different. One man's meat etc. Most of the things I really love to eat and drink are not widely regarded as a good choice. e.g. Red wine, very good coffee, strong and preferably Costa Rican, Nearly black chocolate about 90% cocoa solids, garlic, mushrooms, raspberries......the list goes on.
    One of my late father's nicknames for me when I was a child was "asbestos guts".
    I do my best to live up to his expectations.

  5. Ray, garlic is very good for you, if not for those in your immediate vicinity, and so is red wine (in moderation). Dark chocolate (the darker the better) is full of anti-oxydants and I'm sure raspberries must have Vitamin C. See what a healthy diet you have. :-)

  6. Purely a matter of taste I assure you. Even I can accidentaly get things right.

  7. You'd think we'd all love it, since we are programmed to drink it as babies! I love milk, but a friend and colleague hates it and has to turn away when I add it to my morning tea!

  8. Hooray Sue, Sometimes I think I'm the only normal person on the planet!
    Then I wake up.

  9. I remember small bottles of milk at school that were left by the radiators to get warm......yuk!

  10. Too right Freda, and when they were frozen, that was how they were thawed. Just think of the baccilli!
    Health and Safety would have a fit these days.

  11. My daughter was lactose intolerant when she was a baby but I never realised that animals could suffer from the same. I suppose, why ever not? I loved the story about your mum breastfeeding you for so long that you regard milk as secondrate. Only a mum could come up with a gem like that.

  12. As I said Jane my mother had an excellent sense of humour, particularly when aimed at herself.