When might you feed your cat baby food?

It may surprise some cat caregivers to know that you will find veterinary recommendations under certain strict conditions to try feeding your cat human baby food. It can be useful. I discuss its use in this article.

Sometimes unspiced , meat-based baby food can come to the rescue for sick cats who've lost their appetite
Sometimes unspiced, meat-based baby food can come to the rescue for sick cats who’ve lost their appetite. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Restrictions

Perhaps the first point to make is that your cat should be given baby food for a restricted period and as Jo Singer (a colleague of mine) says on the quora.com website, “Human meat baby foods – as long as they don’t contain garlic, onions or any spices should be safe for kittens WHEN it is needed”. Agreed.

RELATED: My cat has an upper respiratory infection and loss of appetite, please help

Loss of appetite

And I can refer to my excellent book on veterinary care for laypeople written by four veterinarians, which states that if a cat is suffering from a bad cold due to a herpesvirus infection (for example) and has become perhaps anorexic (loss of appetite) and dehydrated, you can encourage a cat to eat by feeding “highly palatable foods with a strong smell such as tuna-flavoured foods or strained baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onion powder), diluted with water.” The added water will help to rehydrate.

So, under certain strict conditions providing meat baby food without any spices can be beneficial, even medicinal.

Gerber in the US – recommended

Jo Singer also states that, “ham, beef, chicken or turkey [baby foods] can help restore an appetite, or keep a sick kitten eating”. She adds that baby food can be useful and she keeps “several jars of Gerber Baby Ham and Gravy on hand for emergencies”. She believes that particular variety in America “seems to be very popular with folks living with kitties” ๐Ÿ™‚ .

RELATED: Easy to Administer Drug Gives Cats Their Appetite Back

Short-term remedy

But there’s a big caveat which I would like to stress namely that it should only be used for a short time as an incentive to regain their appetite. That’s because baby food is not a balanced, complete food for a cat. As you almost certainly know cats have particular nutritional requirements and these requirements are met in a well-prepared commercially available cat food.

Jo Singer says that her veterinarian has advised that “human meat baby food should only be fed for no more than a month”. That may be ta generous time frame but I will bow to better knowledge.

Warm up

The baby food can be warmed up to make it even more palatable by placing an unopened jar in a bowl of hot water for a couple of minutes. Warming up the food makes it smell stronger which in turn makes it more palatable because domestic cats rely heavily on their sense of smell to decide if a food is tasty or not.

The baby food cannot be presented cold to a cat because this dampens down the natural odour of the food which is so important to cats.

Running out of cat food?

Separately, there is a question on quora.com which asks what would you do if you run out of cat food? What kind of substitute can you provide for a short time? And one answer would be strained meat-based baby food without spices, onions and flavourings.

Another would be cooked chicken for a day or two or cooked prawns for a day or two and canned tuna but it is a very short-term measure because they lack the essential added nutrients of a complete food.

Broth to drink more

When my now passed female cat developed idiopathic cystitis, I fed her with boiled fish with added water which encouraged the drinking of water. It was a kind of soup or broth. The point made here is that this kind of feeding can be a form of health treatment for a short while.

I think it’s almost impossible to run out of dry cat food and so you could add the treats I mention to a diet of commercially made dry cat food as a stop gap or if a cat is anorexic.

The book that I have referred to is the Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Third Edition

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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