Everyone knows kittens need milk or milk replacement products to help them grow healthy and strong. But can kittens drink human breast milk?
No. Kittens should not drink human breast milk. While kittens are mammals, human breast milk does not provide the appropriate nutrients for growing baby cats. Kittens cannot drink human breast milk regularly, and some will not be able to tolerate it at all.
Can I Give My Kitten Human Breast Milk?
It is not recommended to give kittens human breast milk. While both nursing human babies and cat babies rely on the essential ingredients of breast milk to grow and thrive, like colostrum, each mammal’s breast milk imparts the specific nutrients each species needs.
Human breast milk contains a different ratio of proteins, carbs, and fats inside of its solution. These ratios are ideal for humans but can overwhelm the system of a tiny kitten. This can result in difficulty digesting and considerable discomfort for the young cat.
Feeding a kitten the wrong milk can stunt the animal’s growth and lead to future complications. A kitten’s body is fragile, and all food must support the continued growth and development of the cat. Choosing human breast milk can interfere with building healthy bones, skin, and organs for a lifetime of happiness with your kitten.
Why Can’t I Feed Milk to My Kitten?
While commercials, TV shows, and movies claim cats love to lap up saucers of milk, this is mostly a myth. Every cat is different and will present a unique reaction to drinking milk.
Most cats and kittens are lactose intolerant. This means their bodies cannot break down the sugar found in milk, also called lactose.
While this is not directly poisonous to cats, it can promote discomfort and, over time, can cause lasting effects on a cat’s well-being. Not to mention it is unpleasant to be cleaning up after a sick cat all the time.
Any dairy product can be challenging for cats. Yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream, and cottage cheese should all be avoided as treats for your cat or kitten.
Not all cats are lactose intolerant, and some may experience no difficulties with small amounts of milk. Some cats will turn their noses up at milk, but others hold a massive interest.
If you want to see if your cat can tolerate cow’s milk or goat milk, give them a tiny portion. Start with just a teaspoon to gauge your cat’s interest.
Side Effects of Feeding Kitten Human Breast Milk
If your cat is lactose intolerant, it will exhibit the same side effects as a human with the same condition. The severity of lactose intolerance will vary with each cat, just like with people. Some cats may show a simple insensitivity, while others can experience significant discomfort.
The common side effects of a kitten drinking human breast milk are:
- Upset stomach
- Disinterest in food
- Abdominal swelling
Many of these reactions will appear almost immediately. Some cats may vomit soon after ingesting any dairy products. Other side effects can appear over time. Observe your cat closely after giving them any dairy.
If your kitten is having a severe reaction to ingesting human breast milk or any other dairy products, contact a veterinary professional immediately. Kittens’ bodies are delicate and cannot be without proper nutrition for more than 24 hours.
Suppose your kitten is only weeks or months old. In that case, it is even more critical to seek professional vet assistance if any of the side effects are severe or prevent the everyday, normal activity of your kitten.
Alternatives to Human Breast Milk for Kittens
Instead of giving your kitten human breast milk, consider these healthy and delicious alternatives for your baby cat. Every food, drink or treat you offer your kitten should be intentionally selected to promote healthy growth and development.
Very young kittens must drink their mother’s milk or an appropriate milk replacer to help them thrive. As mammals, milk provides essential vitamins and nutrients to promote a solid foundation for the first crucial weeks of a kitten’s life. No other substance comes close to delivering the
Simply put, there is no replacement for a mother’s milk. But if the kitten is abandoned or otherwise in critical need, milk replacers are a suitable alternative.
Veterinarians and pet supply stores sell commercial milk replacers for kittens. Homemade recipes for milk replacers provide a cost-effective option for cat owners in a pinch.
Commercial milk replacers deliver more than twice the amount of protein than cow’s milk and homemade concoctions, making it the best option for young, helpless kittens.
Use a small pet nursing bottle or eye dropper to feed kittens at a slow, manageable pace for their tiny digestive systems. Make sure they are held horizontally, and their head lies in a neutral position.
Always boil the bottles you use for feeding kittens after mealtimes to sterilize them. Always use a milk replacer you have prepared within 24 hours and keep it refrigerated. Be sure to bring the replacer to a warm temperature to help attract the kitten to the liquid.
Feed kittens every few two to four hours with a milk replacer to promote proper growth. This schedule will need to be maintained until they are about four weeks old. After they reach this milestone, kittens can transition to other softened foods.
If your kitten develops indigestion, diarrhea, or other side effects like those listed above, reduce the amount of milk replacer you are feeding your kitten. Most kittens will reject the bottle when they are full, but this may take some time to learn.
It’s not just humans who love bone broth! New cat-friendly bone broth brands are hitting shelves to offer the same health benefits to felines as it does to humans.
Bone broth serves as a superfood for cats too. This liquid provides a tremendous nutritional boost to cats and is a terrific supplement to water as a treat.
This nutrient-rich liquid is packed with collagen and other beneficial ingredients to help promote healthy and happy cats. Bone broth contributes to healthy joints and bones as well as glossy skin.
Treats and Supplements
The world of cat and kitten treats expands yearly as our pets become indispensable family members. While traditional crunchy treats have been around for years, modern snacks for cats provide nutritious treats far better than human breast milk.
Dried bonito flakes, cod skins, and other authentic meat products provide irresistible treats for cats and kittens. One of the most popular current treats, especially for young kittens, is the squeezable pastes you can extrude from skinny packets. Kittens eagerly lick up these nutritional pastes. Doritos are also a good cat treats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about if kittens can drink human breast milk via answers to common questions below.
No wild animal can thrive on human breast milk. Human breast milk is specifically formulated for the growth and development of human babies only.
It is very rare for kittens to become sick from their mother’s milk. Sometimes, an infection in the mother’s mammary glands can transfer bacteria to a kitten and cause disease or death.
Several recipes exist online to make homemade milk replacers involving everyday ingredients like evaporated milk, egg yolks, and corn syrup. A commercial milk replacer is recommended for a more foolproof solution.