Friday, March 15, 2019

In defense of using goat milk for bottle feeding kittens




A while back I did some research to show that goat milk has enough taurine to properly nourish nursing kittens to debunk a myth that keeps popping up.

Now I am running into people who love to tout that goats are herbivores and cats are carnivores so "obviously" the milk is not enough for a carnivore. They also like to trot out the "Milk Compostion - Species Table" (sic) to prove it


So, if you only look at this, I can understand why you might be fearful of using goat milk for neonatal kittens. Mother's milk is 10.9% fat and goat is only 3.5%.  Sounds dramatic doesn't it?

But since we have no source of actual cat milk that we can obtain (other than a lactating mother cat and if you can get one of these this post is mute) comparing goat milk to cat milk doesn't really get us the information we need.  Most people who are feeding kittens are using a commercial milk replacer. In general, most people in the US are using KMR (yes there are others, but KMR is what is you often hear as a recommendation)

So, what is the calorie content of KMR. According to the PetAg website, KMR has 11 kcal/Tbs and crude fat is (min) 4.5%.  This is dramatically less than the 10.9% of cat milk, yet this is the standard for commercial milk replacers that so many people swear by..

Goat milk? One Tbs is 0.5 fl oz. and goat milk has 21 calories per ounce, so it is pretty much equivalent calorie wise. Since goat milk is 3.5% fat and KMR is 4.5% fat, we are still in that same range.. especially when you consider that a lot of kittens become constipated on KMR and the first thing people recommend to combat that is to dilute the formula, so they have fewer grams of fat and fewer calories per ounce. Kittens might need to eat a little more goat milk vs KMR reconstituted as directed, but that doesn't mean it is bad or lacking. And if you are diluting KMR with three to one instead of the two to one, ounce per ounce goat milk wins calorically and on fat content (but again, you just feed the kitten a little more and they get what they need)

Lastly, I really want you to know what you are feeding when you are feeding a commercial milk replacer, so take a look at the ingredient list of KMR.


If you look at the other popular milk replacer in the US, Breeder's Edge, their % are also not in line with the milk composition chart of cat milk. This one has much higher percentages.

Both products uses cow milk as a base despite people who save kittens being immediately warned to not feed cow milk because the lactose is hard on kittens. Goat milk naturally has lower levels of lactose than cow's milk (10% less) and it has smaller fat globules as well as higher levels of medium chain fatty acids.  The smaller globules mean easier digestion. Goat milk also has 89% less Alpha A1 Casein*  which is notoriously hard for humans to digest; is this important in cats? Well, I honestly do not know, but when you feed cow milk the cats react to it and have diarrhea and left untreated can lead to dehydrated kittens that are under nourished.  When you feed goat milk you generally get well formed stools (unless the kitten has parasites) and they thrive. They are very fat and happy..

I have heard, in defense of commercial products using cow milk, that overly processing the milk makes it easier for the kittens to digest. The fact that there are so many cats out there that owe their lives to KMR bears that out. My thoughts on that is that the health communities for every species are touting that fresh is more nutritious and overly processed food is hard on the body.

As for the idea that "no vet recommends it" that many detractors will say, I have talked to people who have said their vet does recommend it. Is second or third hand knowledge enough to "prove" anything, no, but then again hearing that "no vet recommends goat milk" is just as useless because chances are no one has talked to all of the vets. You will hear that "no vet recommends raw food" but we know that is not true as several vets have websites out there talking about recommending raw food. Then there is the consideration of liability. If a vet recommends that you use KMR and the product fails your kitten, KMR takes on that liability. If a vet recommends goat milk, the vet takes on the liability. There is no "goat milk for kittens" company who has done the research to share with vets that commercial companies do, nor is there a "big goat milk company" who is willing to step up and take that on.  Does this mean there is risk? There is always risk, but I do not believe more than any other product. Every cat is different and there is no doubt that some kittens might fail to thrive on goat milk just as some kittens fail to thrive on commercial milk and some kittens fail to thrive on their mother's milk.

In the end, I'm not telling you that you should not use KMR or Breeders Edge. If that is what you are comfortable with, by all means, I will support you fully in that. I will absolutely be your champion for feeding a hungry kitten. I just want to defend the choice of using goat milk for motherless kittens and address some of the misinformation I have heard out there.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Best Wishes Darcy



If all goes according to plan, Darcy will be leaving today for her new home. From what I have heard she will have quite a few people to give her the attention she craves.


She is doing amazingly well coming out of her shell. We painted the room this weekend and I feared it would cause huge setbacks and she would cower in the corner the whole time, but she was out and interested in what was going on. She wasn't keen on when my husband was standing to paint, but the minute he sat down she was out and exploring.  It got to the point where I had to confine her to the bathroom so she wouldn't get into the paint.  When we were done I opened the door to comfort her, expecting to find her cowering near the toilet, but she was at the door waiting and walked right back out!  She wandered around and looked at all the things that were in the "wrong" spot and got used to everything again; very much like a normal well-socialized cat.



She still hides at "weird" things, but she comes right back out once she adjusts to it. She loves to play, playing by herself if need be. She loves snuggling and will lay on my chest for kisses. She likes having her back end scratched, and I will always love the curly Q her tail makes when you do.


I will miss her, but I will be glad to be able to do some more things to that room to make it 'home' for me. I want to buy some new lighting, put up some climbing shelves and a few other things.. hopefully, in the next few weeks it will be all said and done and ready for kittens when they show up, but (and yes, I'm talking to you Universe) I will take kittens whenever they show up!!

I am out of here!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Skippy



Skippy came to me in June of 09, which makes him almost ten years old.  Goodness, gracious where does the time go??

Skippy was turned into the shelter as a possible abuse case. He had a urinary infection and was not doing well when he arrived. By the time I got him he was doing much better and was very high energy. I tried to bring a friend home to him but he would not leave the kitten alone and I ended up returning her to the shelter.


I brought Skippy to the shelter to be adopted when he hit weight. I was sad to see him go but I thought he wanted more attention than we could provide for him with seven cats. I met and talked to the people who adopted him and told him about his urinary infection and the likelihood that he might get another and they totally dismissed what I had to say and went off with him. I looked forward to my next set of fosters and was going about my life when I heard he was returned for coming down with a cold. I don't think I've stopped rolling my eyes over that one.

I brought him back to the house and got him over the sneezing and the discharge and he went back up for adoption but he quickly came down with it again so I brought him back and got him healthy again. At this point, he was a long gangly teenager and there were a plethora of kittens available. He was also very high energy so he needed a home that would play with him regularly to drain that off or he was going to be a pain. After weeks of visiting him at the shelter on a regular basis, I gave in and adopted him.

Other than sneezing out wads of snot from time to time he has been very healthy. He did have a little OCD of over grooming that started when we started packing back in Maine. I am fairly certain it is over now, but I still check in with him from time to time to make sure it doesn't recur.

Skippy still loves to cuddle. He often pins himself to one of us and will lay there for hours on end until we kick him off. When I'm in bed sick he never leaves. He loves to wrestle with Fleurp at dinner time and he still likes playing and running around the house and climbing cat trees. It feels like he is four or five, not ten.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Fleurp



Fleurp was a foster in October of 08 making her ten and a half. I went to the shelter one day to get food for my current fosters and saw her and absolutely had to foster her. She wasn't ready to go into foster so I left her there and then left work when they contacted me to tell me she was ready.

She spent the first few days in my bathtub because I was afraid of URI and I couldn't put her in the kitten room and I was afraid of her giving URI to my cats because of the gap under the bathroom door.


Turns out her eye looked like that because she was bitten. It never healed fully and for a while she had some depth perception issues but she adjusted pretty well by the time we adopted her. Her ears were also packed with ear mite debris, to the point that it looked like earplugs.

For the past few years, Fleurp has become anemic every spring. No one can figure out why. The best guess I have is that she loses so much fur in her spring shed that it inhibits her ability to make red blood cells. Why? I have no flippin clue. We generally treat her with prednisolone and liqui-tinic  We shaved her last year and her anemia was minimal. I am going to do it again this year - even more so - possibly even a lion cut - and we'll see what happens.

This past December we had a scare and I thought Fleurp had eaten something she shouldn't have and she had surgery to remove it from her intestine, but when the vet got in there they didn't find anything. She recovered well and is doing very well. She is enjoying all the extra food I'm slipping Muffin because she gets to clean up the extras most days.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Twee



Tweedle was born in July of 04 which makes her *calculates* ugh, way too old..  14.5ish. She still has the mindset of a kitten. She has always been "touched" in the head but she is incredibly sweet and an amazing hunter. She loves playing with fishing pole toys and always grabs the toy and holds on to it for dear life.

For those of you new to the blog, Twee recently ended up in emergency care for hepatic lipidosis. She stopped eating after Jack died. We noticed it initially but she hadn't lost any weight and I was feeling a bit paranoid so I didn't check in with her again until it was almost too late. I tried force feeding her, and while that went well enough, her personality disappeared and she seemed to be getting worse so we made the appointment to euthanize her. At the appointment, my husband couldn't go through it without throwing a hail mary, so we brought her to an emergency clinic out of state for a few days of care and several thousand dollars later she's doing much better.  She was slow to eat when she came home. She has never ever been food motivated so I was fearful that I wouldn't get her to eat well without more medical help. As a last ditch attempt, I offered her some dry food and she ate it! I'm telling you, that stuff is addicting..

After recovering her weight and getting a clean bill of health, she's been a bit of a pain in the tushie. She can't seem to stop harassing Eli which bothers me but I can't seem to break her of it. It is not every day, but it is enough that I feel bad for Eli. I don't know why he doesn't stand up to her.

Twee is still very much my husband's kitty, always hanging out with him or is cuddled up to him. I'll do if he isn't around, but she misses him when he goes away and greets him happily when he comes home.
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