Our cats are our babies and we treat them like family. We want the best for them and are always finding ways to increase the quality of our cat’s diet and lives.
You might have come across cat owners who have fed their cats baby food on certain occasions. On the contrary, it might sound like a good idea since baby food is gentler on the stomach.
But can cats eat baby food with any health problems?
It is generally safe to feed your cat baby food as long as you are aware of the ingredients in it. There are some brands of baby food than can contain ingredients that are toxic to cats. Feeding it to your cat can result in side effects.
In this article, we will be discussing the pros and cons of feeding your cat baby food. In addition to this, we will also share the importance of ingredients before feeding baby food to your cat.
What Are The Ingredients In Baby Food?
Baby food is food that is soft and mushy which makes it easier for a baby to consume and digest. It is usually made from fruits, vegetables or meat.
Baby food is generally given to infants who are between four to six months old and have started to wean off milk formula.
It is possible to make your own baby food or buy commercially prepared ones.
The main ingredients that are used to make baby food are water, broth, cornflour, fruits, vegetables or meat.
The manufacturer might also add in minerals and vitamins to meet the growing requirements of a child.
Can Cats Eat Baby Food?
Cats are obligate carnivores which means that they get all their nutrients from a high-protein diet. The protein should come from animal meat and not plant matter as cats have lost the ability to digest carbohydrates.
However, cats do eat traces of vegetables or plant matter from time to time. When wild cats catch and kill their prey who are mostly omnivores, they do consume the plant matter found in the prey’s digestive system.
There are domesticated cats that do enjoy chewing and eating cat grass which helps provide some nutrients and fiber.
If you plan to feed your cat baby food, look for one that is meat-based baby food. This goes in line with a cat’s natural diet.
Do note that baby food should not be a permanent replacement for cat food due to the lack of essential amino acids like taurine.
Is Baby Food Dangerous For Cats?
Baby food can be toxic for cats if you do not know what you are doing. Don’t just buy the first type of baby food you see in the supermarket and feed it to your cat.
There are some ingredients that you should never feed your cat as they can cause health issues.
Check the baby food for the following ingredients:
- Garlic powder
- Citrus flavors
- Grapes and raisins
- Vegetable oil
- Artificial sweeteners
Garlic And Onion
Garlic or onion poisoning in cats can cause serious gastronomic problems like vomiting and diarrhea. In more serious cases, garlic and onion can damage the cat’s red blood cells causing less oxygen to be transported around the body.
Chocolate contains methylxanthines which is highly toxic to cats. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and even death. Cocoa powder is the most dangerous form of chocolate exposure for cats.
Citrus Fruits And Flavors
Anything citrus like orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit that is found in baby food can cause problems in cats.
This is due to the presence of limonene, linalool and psoralens. At low levels, it can cause a stomach upset. But if your cat has consumed a large amount, it can affect its central nervous system.
Many cat owners think that it is ok to feed their cats dairy products but that isn’t true. Besides kittens, most cats are lactose intolerant. The presence of dairy in their food can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms might be more severe if your cat has a strong allergy to dairy.
Grapes And Raisins
It has been reported that feeding anything grape related to cats can cause kidney failure. However, the exact reason is still being studied but it is still better to be safe than sorry.
Cats can experience vomiting, loss of appetite, excess thirst and urination.
There are some brands of baby food that use vegetable or canola oil in the manufacturing process. Cats should not be given any oil in their cat food as it serves no purpose for them.
Their bodies aren’t equipped to digest such an ingredient which can lead to a stomach upset.
Sugar is sometimes added to baby food to make it more palatable for the baby. Even though cats can consume some amount of sugar without any issues, too much of it can lead to obesity and feline diabetes.
Cats do need some amount of sodium in their daily diet for proper bodily functions. However, the amount of sodium that a cat needs is 100x lesser than that of a human. Therefore, the salt content found in baby food can already be too much for cats.
Unlike real sugar, artificial sweeteners are very toxic to cats and need to be avoided at all costs. Many artificial sweeteners contain a compound called Xylitol which is toxic to cats.
It can cause your cat’s blood sugar levels to crash causing your cat to be hypoglycemic. Liver failure is one of the side effects and can be deadly for cats.
Xylitol can also be found in toothpaste and many of our human foods.
Always feed your cat meat-based baby food like chicken baby food and avoid any types of baby food that contain fruits and vegetables like sweet potato baby food or green bean baby food.
When To Feed My Cat Baby Food?
As mentioned earlier, Baby food should not be a replacement for regular cat food. Baby food does not contain all the required nutrients that your cat needs.
However, there can be a few scenarios when your cat needs to be fed baby food for a longer period of time.
Can I Give My Elderly Cat Baby Food?
As your cat gets older into its golden years, you might find it eating lesser than before. Some older cats might not have a strong appetite as well.
An older cat needs its calories to maintain its weight and feeding your elderly cat baby food can be a good way to entice it to eat more.
Elderly cats might not have a strong enough digestive system for normal cat food hence baby food might be easier for them to digest.
Can Sick Cats Eat Baby Food?
Cats who are sick or not feeling in the best of health will also not have the best of appetites. It is important to get your sick cat eating as much as possible to speed up its recovery process.
The more nutrients that your cat can consume, the faster the body is able to repair itself.
Your Cat Has Just Been Through Dental Surgery
If your cat has just gone through dental surgery and doesn’t seem to be eating much, chewing on solid food can be painful and further affect its appetite.
Your cat’s mouth is still sensitive and sore hence eating baby food can benefit your cat as it is soft and easy to swallow.
Baby Food For Cats With Kidney Disease
Cats with chronic kidney disease might not have the best of appetites. Baby food can be a good way to help them eat more.
Another good thing about baby food is that it is high in protein, has a good amount of moisture and is low in phosphorous.
These components are important when choosing a suitable diet for your cat with chronic kidney disease.
Do not feed your cat dry food at all if it has kidney issues. Dry cat food or kibbles has no moisture and is bad for cats in general due to the poor nutritional value.
How Much Baby Food Should I Give My Cat?
A normal cat should be eating about 21-32 calories per pound of body weight. You can roughly estimate the amount of baby food to give your cat based on the nutrition label.
For cats that are underweight or need more food to recover, you might have to feed your cat more during this period.
It would be best to check with your vet with regards to the optimum calorie intake that your cat requires.
Outside of cats that need baby food to supplement their calorie intake, normal cats should not be eating baby food on a regular basis.
The occasional treat is fine but should not be more than one teaspoon per serving.
How Long Can My Cat Be On Baby Food?
We have mentioned many times that baby food is not a replacement for regular cat food. The nutritional profile of cats is different from humans and they require a specialized diet.
Baby food does not contain taurine which all cats need for a healthy heart and immune system. It is a very important nutrient which they only can get from food.
Your cat can safely eat baby food for one to three days following which you should start to transition your cat back to its normal diet.
When you start to transition your cat back to its normal diet, do not make it a sudden change or your cat will resist it.
Slowly start to add some of your cat’s regular cat food with the baby food until it is 100% cat food.
Can I Make My Own Baby Food For My Cat?
Yes you can and it is probably the most nutritional and healthy option. It isn’t hard to make it at home and all you need are the right ingredients and blender.
Since our cats are obligate carnivores, you will need a meat source as the main ingredient. I would recommend chicken breast and thigh since most cats are fine with it.
You can start to add beef, lamb and some organs (liver, heart) once your cat has started eating more.
Do not use fish as it isn’t a source of protein for cats.
Cook the meat well and let it cool down before putting it in the blender. In order to soften up the texture, you can add some water, chicken broth or homemade tuna water.
Do not add too much liquid or it will become too mushy.
The aim is to blend it to a similar consistency as baby food.
You should add a taurine supplement into the mix as it is very important for cats.
Your cat’s appetite is linked to the smell of the food so warm up the baby food just a little bit to make it more palatable for your cat.
Even though baby food can be a lifesaver when it comes to helping out cats eat more, you need to be very careful of the individual ingredients that go into the bottle.
Definitely avoid brands that use ingredients that can be toxic to your cat.
Remember that baby food is not a replacement for your normal cat food as it lacks the necessary nutrients for cats.