Can Baby Formula Hurt My Cat (Can I Give It to Newborn Kittens?)

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If you see a helpless, abandoned kitten, do your parenting instincts kick in to nurture it? Or maybe out of curiosity, your older cat snuck a few sips of your baby’s formula? You need to know if baby formula is going to hurt your cat or kitten. There are specific circumstances where you can use baby formula to feed your cat, but it’s best not to if possible.

In a pinch, you can use baby formula to supplement your kitten’s diet till you can buy formula specific to your cat’s needs. If you have to use human formula, double the instructed concentration. However, there is potential the baby formula could harm your cat or kitten. Your cat could become dehydrated as a result of formula-induced diarrhea. 

Keep reading to find out how baby formula can affect your cat differently from your kitten and what alternatives there may be.

Is baby formula safe for my cat?

Around 80% of baby formulas on the market use cow’s milk as the basis of their recipes, and that means they include lactose, the sugar in the milk. Lactase is an enzyme needed by mammals to break down and digest the lactose in milk. Almost all mammal babies will make the enzyme at birth, but at the time of weaning, the body stops producing lactase. And just like us, cats can become lactose intolerant without the lactase enzyme. 

Although some cats can handle lactose well into adulthood, Purina Senior Nutritionist Jan Dempsey says that “Cats generally lose their ability to digest the sugar found in milk after weaning because solid food takes its place and they no longer need this ability.” And just like in humans, lactose intolerance in cats will present in a number of ways.

If your cat is intolerant to the lactose in baby formula, you will see the following symptoms develop in around eight to twelve hours:

  • Gassiness
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Soft stools
  • Diarrhea

Even for cats that can tolerate it, baby formula is more akin to serving your pet junk food than a nutritious meal. It’s best to avoid serving your feline friend baby formula. However, a few stolen sips of baby formula shouldn’t cause any lasting harm for your cat, but monitor them for the rest of the day just to be on the safe side.

Is baby formula safe for my kittens?

In ideal circumstances, a kitten will remain with its mother for at least 12-weeks, if not a little longer. If you do come across a kitten that has been abandoned, you can, in the short term, use baby formula to tide the kitten over till you can buy some cat milk replacer

Human baby formula is designed to provide the nutrition for, well, a human baby. There are not enough nutrients in human baby formula to sustain your kitten for an extended period of time. However, unlike full-grown cats, kittens who are not yet weaned will still be producing the lactase enzyme, which will allows them to handle small servings of baby formula. 

Baby formula can be expensive stuff! But if you are going to use it to supplement your kitten’s nutrition, you will need to double the recommended concentration our human babies need. Even doubled, the human baby formula will not meet your kitten’s dietary needs and may lead to starvation.

Additionally, same as adult cats, there is the potential for your kitten to develop an upset stomach and possibly diarrhea.

Can a cat drink baby formula?

Over the years, I have developed a sweet tooth for cake. I am not ashamed to admit it! But I do realize it’s not the healthiest choice I could be making, and your cat is likely to make the same decision.

Cats will overindulge on milk and baby formula if given a chance. If they can not handle the lactose, though, they will end up sick.

You can try giving your cat a couple of tablespoons of formula or milk to see how well they tolerate it. If they do well, you could use a little formula as a treat from time to time. However, most veterinarians would advise against letting your cat have any formula or milk as the potential for harm is too great.

Can cats drink Similac?

Like with other baby formulas, your cat can, but shouldn’t drink Similac baby formula.

If they catch you with your back turned and stole a few sips, it should not cause any significant problems. But a steady diet of Similac or similar formulas will, at best, cause malnutrition and soft stools, and in the worse case, they may experience pain and dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea.

Can cats drink soy formula?

Cats are obligated carnivores, meaning they need the nutrients from meat that soy formula simply cannot provide.

Neither kittens nor older cats should make soy formula the central part of their diet. It is true that soy doesn’t contain lactose like other baby formulas, but that doesn’t make it any easier on your cat’s digestive system.

Soy contains the sugars stachyose and raffinose, and like lactose, your cat won’t be able to digest them properly. 

Is baby formula toxic to cats?

If your cat slurps up a belly full of baby formula, you do not need to rush them to the vet.

You will need to keep a close eye on them the rest of the day, but the formula is not necessarily toxic. Your cat’s lack of lactase enzymes can cause stomach issues similar to the problems lactose intolerant humans have to deal with. Even if your cat is one of the lucky ones that can tolerate the lactose in baby formula, they will still lack the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Imagine only feeding candy and soda to your kids; that’s the same as a constant baby formula diet for your cat pal. Veterinarians will tell you that it is best to stick with foods formulated specifically for your cat.

Is baby formula bad for kittens?

Baby formula will not provide the essential nutrients your kitten needs. Plus, the levels of lactose are too high for your kitty’s body to process.

Baby formula can harm your new kitten if it’s used as the primary food source, and the lactose will lead to a number of stomach issues if your kitten consumes too much. 

As bad as all of this sounds, in a pinch, baby formula can be used to see your kitten through till you make it to the store to buy the proper kitten food. Like we talked about before, just make sure to monitor your baby cat for any signs of distress after eating the formula. 

What will happen to my cat if it drinks baby formula

Like us, some adult cats can handle their lactose better than others. And like us, any adverse effects are increased the more formula the cat consumes. There just are not any good reasons to give your adult cat any amount of baby formula. You may see it as spoiling your feline companion by treating it from time to time with milk and formula, but you may be hurting your furry buddy.

There are too many negative outcomes for your cat, including:

  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Pain
  • Loose stools
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Malnourishment

What will happen if I give my kitten baby formula

Since kittens are still producing the enzyme lactase, they should tolerate human baby formula well in the short term. You can not get carried away, though.

Human baby formula has way too much lactose for your kitten’s body to handle and not nearly enough of the nutrients, amino acids, and proteins your kitten needs to survive. If you continuously only use human baby formula, your kitty will quickly become malnourished. What’s worse, they may become fatally dehydrated.

Giving your new baby kitten baby formula is better than only using water or nothing at all. But you need to make a point to run out and grab some cat milk replacer as soon as you can!

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