Can cats drink breast milk
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Can Cats Drink Breast Milk: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I was scrolling a Facebook cat group the other day and met a post on a cat mum saying how she gave her kitten some breast milk when her kitten formula run out. Now, this captured my interest and I did some research to get some insight.

Cats should not drink human breast milk. The milk is made specifically for human babies while kittens should get their milk from mama cats. Human breast milk also lacks the proper nutrients for kittens’ proper growth.

Should I Give My Kitten Human Milk?

Can cats drink breast milk
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Do not give your cat your breast milk. Although both humans and cats are mammals, their milk composition is different.  Human milk is not strong enough for kittens.

Like all primates, humans carry their babies around and feed them whenever they are hungry. However, cats (and any other animals that give birth in batches) do not have this privilege. So, what do they do?

They produce milk that’s higher in fat and protein concentration. This way, the kittens’ tummies remain full while the mama cat leaves the nest to go hunting for the next meal.

Check out the table below for an idea of how human milk and cat milk are different:

Ash (minerals like Calcium, phosphorus etc)0.2%1.3%
(Multiply % by 100 to get the grams eg: 3% * 100 = 3g in 100 ml)

(Sources pubmed article 1 and pubmed article 2)

Can cats drink baby formula

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Is Human Breast Milk Bad for Kittens?

Ultimately yes, human milk is bad for kittens. It is made up of a combination of different proteins, fats, and carbs that may overwhelm the kitten. Seeing the young ones still have developing systems, their bodies may not be strong enough to process human breast milk.

The lack of proper nutritional value will lead to malnutrition and a weakened immune system.

So, even if you wake up and your kitten is right there sniffing your nursing bra, do not be tempted to give in and give them some breast milk. It’s not good for them.

Is Human Breast Milk Bad for Kittens

Health Risks When Cats Drink Human Breast Milk

Human breast milk has more lactose (7%) than a queen’s milk (4.2%). Although kittens produce lactase (an enzyme that digests lactose), the high lactose levels may overwhelm them.

The kitten may end up experiencing;

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Disinterest in food
  • Stomach aches and discomfort
  • Cramping
  • Flatulence

Your kitten should be okay after a few hours but if the symptoms persist, visit the vet immediately. Seeing that they are still growing and have a weak immunity, they should never go 24 hours without proper nutrition and care.

Fun fact: Did you know lactose levels in human breast milk (7%) are higher than in cow’s milk (5%)? Well, now you know.

What Kind of Milk Can Cats Drink?

a. Lactose-free Cow Milk

Cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they are allergic and can’t break down the sugar lactose. Lactose-free cow milk gives your cat the chance to enjoy the milk’s nutritional benefits without the harmful lactose.

Kitten drinking milk

b.      Goat Milk

Goat milk can be a nutritious addition to your cat’s nutrient sources. It is packed with prebiotics and is also low in lactose.

However, some cats may still get a reaction. Make sure to observe your catto for any behavior out of the normal.

c.       Cat Milk

This is a special milk formulated just for cats without lactose. It is an excellent source of nutrition and can easily be found in local pet stores.

Kittens drinking mlk

What Milk Should I Avoid for My Cat?

So now that we’ve established that human breast milk is out of the equation, here is a list of other milk types that you should avoid giving to your cat:

  1. Cow milk. It has high lactose levels which could harm your cat. Most cats and kittens are lactose intolerant so it’s best to avoid giving them any cow milk or dairy product (cheese, butter, etc)
  2. Sheep milk. It has very high lactose and casein levels compared to other milk types.

Other Milk Alternatives to Human Milk for Kittens

Mammals depend on milk to survive in their early stages of life. Simply put, nothing can replace a mother’s milk. However, if push comes to shove (like when a kitten is orphaned), we have to search for alternatives. Some of them are:

a.       Bone Broth

bone broth
Photo by Alex Bayev on pexels

There are many commercial broths that are specifically made with cats in mind. Broths are a rich source of calcium and proteins.

Referred to as a cat’s superfood, broths are also an excellent source of collagen which helps with the cat’s coat.

b.      Milk Replacers

Local pet stores have a variety of milk replacers that you can choose from. If you are budget constrained you can make your own milk replacer at home.

However, commercial milk replacers provide nearly twice the amount of protein that homemade ones have.

c.       Supplements and Treats

There are a lot of supplements that you can add to your kitten’s daily plan. Supplements are a great way to make sure that your kitto is getting all the nutrition they need. Consult your vet before you decide to add any supplement to your cat’s meals.

Cat drinking milk

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Things to Consider

Just like newborn babies, kittens need to feed around the clock. They can only go for a maximum of 4 hours before their bodies start to shut down.

If you have an orphaned kitten that needs care, you’ll need to buy a bottle feeder that resembles a cat’s tit. Over the years, I’ve found that an eye dropper and a syringe (without the needle) work just as well.

Feeding a kitten milk
Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

You’ll also need to feed your kitten slowly as they can only take small liquids at a time. Feed them consistently until they are about 4 weeks (1 month) old then you can switch them over to soft kitten food. Consult your vet first before making any changes to your kitten’s diet.


Can a Human Breastfeed a Cat?

Humans should not breastfeed kittens. Cats have sandpaper-rough tongues that will most likely hurt you, especially if you are a new mum and sore from breastfeeding your human baby. Kittens also extract their claws and dig them into their mother’s udders as they suckle. Seeing we do not have fur for protection, the kneading will only hurt the human.

Keep in mind that even if you do decide to breastfeed, the milk won’t be proper nutrition for the kitten. It should not be their only source of nutrition.

Are Cats Attracted to Breast Milk?

Cats remember their breastfeeding days and may find themselves sniffing or licking a nursing human. To them, this may be their relief food. However, it’s best if they do not take any human milk.

What Kind of Milk Can Cats Drink
Image by Amr from Pixabay

Can Any Animal Survive by Drinking Only Human Breast Milk?

No animal can survive off human breast milk, except the human baby. Every animal, including humans, produces milk that is nutrient sufficient for their babies. The components are different and if the animals would rely on another animal’s milk for full nutrition, they might end up malnutrition.

This is why even though humans drink cow and goat milk, we don’t rely on it as our only source of nutrition.

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