Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Should you feed kittens goat milk?




When you spend any time with a group of people who rescue orphaned kittens, you inevitably run into the question "What is the best milk for feeding kittens?"

Everyone has their own opinions. In the US there is KMR, Breeders Edge, and PetLac for commercial options and "kitten glop" and plain goat milk for homemade options.

I started using goat milk a few years ago when my friend asked me what I was using and told me how wonderful goat milk was. She had been using it a while and had great success with it. I was so reluctant to try it prior to this because while I heard it provided everything a kitten needed, I could find nothing on the internet or in any literature I could put my hands on that could confirm this. Having someone I trust tell me that it worked was enough for me. The next time I had a litter of kittens that needed to nurse I went out and bought some goat milk and tried it.

I kept the commercial stuff on hand on the off chance that it didn't work for me, but the kittens immediately started to thrive. I initially started with refrigerated Meyenberg goat milk because that was easiest to obtain. Having gone dairy free for a few months prior to this time I knew that it was available at my local grocery store and my local mega-mart. Once I was done with that I bought fresh raw goat milk at my local health food store, preferring that to the ultrapasteurized product. I will use either product. I have talked to many in rescue who have used both the canned and the powdered goat milk that is available in the cooking section of most grocery and mega-mart stores and they have had great success with those as well.

So I share my experiences with goat milk and how kittens grow fat and happy and have very good stool (provided they don't have parasites - which most kittens have) and inevitably someone comes along and tells me I am killing my kittens by feeding them goat milk or that I am doing severe long-term damage by feeding goat milk to kittens. They believe that goat milk does not contain taurine, an essential amino acid necessary for cats because they can not produce it themselves.

So, does goat milk have taurine? Yes. It does. Loads of it. What I had a very hard time proving is that goat milk provided enough taurine for kittens. I could not find a single source that told me exactly how much taurine is generally in goat milk, nor could I find how much taurine was in the commercial kitten replacers.

Wanting to have hard facts to share with people who won't take my word for it (and I am completely okay with that, I want people doing their own research) I decided to go directly to the source. I emailed PetAG and asked them directly how much taurine is in KMR. I received an email reply that said the taurine content in powdered KMR is 40 mg/100 grams (or 11.34 mg per ounce)

Now, how to determine how much taurine is in goat milk. Since the FDA doesn't require labeling of taurine content in food, I reached out to the popular goat milk provider in the US, Meyenberger, and the reply I received said there are approximately .075 milligrams of Taurine per ounce of the goat milk. I contacted Answers Pet Food who also sell goat milk and they say that goat milk has 2mg per ounce. So per 100 grams 0.2625 and 7mg respectively. A study in Italy of goat milk says there is 6.55mg per 100g. Another study puts it at 6.90 mg/100 g

So goat milk does provide less taurine than KMR, but how much do kittens need?

In 1982 I. H. Burger and K. C. Barnett determined that the requirement for taurine was 10 mg/kg bodyweight/day. So a four-ounce kitten (a newborn) would need 0.11kg*10mg=1.1mg per day.

So, if you are feeding the kitten approximately 48 mls (1 ounce =30 ml), which is the midline recommendation for newborn kittens, then the kitten is getting 1.2 milligrams of taurine. (0.075 mg of taurine per ounce *1.6 ounces) on the low end and 3.2 mg on the high. (2mg of taurine per ounce*1.6 ounces) both are well above the 1.1mg per day requirement as stated.

Is more taurine better? yes and no. Taurine is very important for so many different aspects of the body so having enough is very important but taurine is water soluble so if you feed more they simply urinate it out.

If you are concerned and want to err on the side of caution you can easily add in powdered taurine which is available at most health food stores or vitamin stores, as well as many online retailers.

I am happy to entertain any additional studies or information you have if you want to dispute my belief that goat milk is a complete and nutritious substitution for kitten milk for a kitten who does not have a mother to nurse off of or as a supplemental feeding if she is having a hard time keeping up with their demands. Personally, I prefer a source of raw (minimally processed) goat milk as I believe that the nutrients are higher and are better absorbed, but in reality, even ultra-pasteurized goat milk makes very fat happy healthy kittens.

44 comments:

  1. I had no idea. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  2. Great detective work tracking down the facts on this! It’s surprising this information isn’t more available, and it’s really valuable for people wavering about whether to use goat milk or KMR.

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  3. Good to know! You would think Answers at least would put the info out there. Honest Kitchen makes a powdered goat milk product that my cats love mixed with egg yolks for a treat (keeps them out of my ice cream lol.) I just looked, they don't list how much taurine is in it either

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    1. So they can have uncooked yolks in the milk it won’t give gi issues ? Persian Cat is not thriving at eight weeks took to vet he gave shots did fecal had small fever but nothing as far as parasites he said get what you can in your kitten is all you can do ... he gave vitamins and antibiotic and albino give 1 cc three times a day .. thinking of adding goats milk and raw egg it makes since to get fat and protein in ...

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    2. I have been feeding my cats a raw diet for over a decade, including raw eggs in it, and it has not caused GI issues.

      Some of the more popular "kitten glop" formulas out there also include raw egg yolks.

      Cats are designed to eat fresh kill and carrion that they might come across and as such their bodies are primed to consume raw foods and handle any general bacterial contamination that might come with them. That is not to say that they should be willingly fed spoiled meat or eggs, but these things kept in a reasonably safe sanitary manner should be just safe for kittens

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    3. Do you give the kitten(s) straight foods milk? Want to know because many formulas and their authors use goats milk but not by itself. If I can give current kitten whose approximately 5-6 weeks, I can't remember when it was born exactly even though I thought I wrote it down, just the goat's milk I bought that would be awesome because I don't have a lot of money and need to be able to supplement his momma that isn't wanting to feed very long due to Mr keeping the kitten in a pen for safety reasons. When I bring out the kitten for her to feed she'll stay for several minutes at a time or not LNG at all.

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    4. I use straight up goat milk, not any of the glop formulas that are out there. There is nothing wrong with using those formulas.

      you do not need to add anything to it, but you can if you feel more comfortable doing so.

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  4. You are truly the kitten expert. I never even considered this.

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  5. glad you were able to find all that info - very interesting.....

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  6. Thank you!!! My current foster babies are not gaining weight as I like them to... thinking of introducing goats milk to help...

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  7. This is interesting, and good to know. When we adopted Sadie, she was estimated to be around 4 weeks old and could have benefited from goat's milk. You never know when you might need to know this kind of stuff.

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  8. "very fat, happy healthy kittens"
    AMEN!
    By the way, when I was recently have some gastrointestinal problems myself, The Hubby bought goat milk yogurt for me, and it helped! Smelled a bit goaty....

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    1. The odor is usually caused by what feed they are eating. When I raised goats when I was young we fed sweet cow feed with molasses added to it. The milk didn't have a "goaty" smell or taste.

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    2. Thank you so much for the confirmation!!

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  9. How awesome that you went and researched this, and shared the results! All this is so good to know.

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  10. Interesting. The mom tried to give us goat milk one time and we wouldn’t drink it. Actually, she put a little bit in our wet food and we wouldn’t eat the food.

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  11. I never would've thought of goat milk - but it sounds like a success!

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  12. Didn't know any of this and found it really interesting

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  13. It would be interesting to know how much taurine is in a mother cat's milk to compare with the amount in commercial formula and goats milk.

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    1. https://www.kittyblog.net/2019/03/in-defense-of-using-goat-milk-for.html

      Taurine comparisons.

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  14. Lies lies it’s not good to give goats milk to kittens all that research crap that person spoke of about taurine still not helping. 24hrs. Top you use goat milk an emergency supplement then you get kitten formula or take it to your nearest shelter. Goat milk constpiates kittens as well as not having enough nutrients for a kitten.

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    1. It is not lies. I, and many other people who rescue orphan kittens, use it exclusively and have very happy healthy kittens. Goat milk is natural and it is the least constipating option out of off the commercial milk replacers. I see people complaining all the time of constipated kittens on the forums and boards I hang out on regarding orphaned kittens and they are rarely feeding goat milk - heck I can't remember a single person who feeds goat milk complaining of constipation.. Nor do they complain the kittens lack energy (a sign of not enough nutrients) nor do they complain that they are not doing well. Almost everyone who has tried it is converted and feed it exclusively.

      You didn't sign your comment or I would address you personally, but I highly doubt you raise kittens, and if you do, I doubt you have ever tried goat milk because you would see for yourself this is not lies and that the kittens do beautifully on it.

      If you do save orphan kittens and you choose not to use it, that is totally okay. Feed what you are comfortable feeding.. but there are people like you who shame people away from natural foods and that is not right. This post was designed to dispel some of the fear mongering about goat milk, like much of what you spewed forth in your comment

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    2. I agree...I have had my rescue kittens 4 days and have them on KMR. Which none have pooped. I done the potty methods, even the triangle method. They pee after they eat but none have pooped. So KMR is very constipating. I am trying Goats milk if you read about it, it isn't constipating. I am trying it

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    3. If your kitten still isn't thriving, it isn't the fault of the goat milk. If your vet can't figure it out or just offers dangerous pharma (google the name of the drug, plus "safety" and the species name, before using!), then try a holistic vet.

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  15. My boyfriend was getting off work the night of Hurricane Michael and heard a kitten crying. He found a 4 week old kitten clinging to life on the side of an embankment full of storm drain water (mother and other kittens no where to be found). He brought the kitten home, and I started bottle feeding her the goats milk formula. It's been a couple of days now, and she is thriving! She is not constipated, and loves her goats milk and is gaining weight!

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  16. Anonymous2:18 AM

    Fresh goat milk was recommended to me by a very knowledgeable RVT who has been bottle feeding kittens for 30 years. I have been following her example for the last 2 years- about 25 kittens so far. They have been healthy and are good eaters. The kittens love the taste of the goat milk, no fussiness, and they latch on immediately. No constipation as with powdered KMR and no diarrhea like with canned KMR. I also suggest using a Miracle Nipple- so much better than the larger commercial ones. Thank you for your research and suggestions.

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  17. Ive always been told raw goats milk is the best for orphaned babies. Im currently feeding kittens with fresh raw goats milk for the last 4 days and they are happy and getting fat. Sadly their mom disappeared when they were 2 days old. But im thankful i have goats in milk on our farm to supply them with.

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  18. Interesting that you claim it is lies from an unknown account. I’ve been fostering kittens for years and I prefer Goats Milk over KMR. The kittens produce healthier bowl movements and gain weight.

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    1. Yay, goat milk rocks. Do not let people who do not know talk you out if using the best milk next to mom"s.The energy, the spunk it brings out in them is amazing. Us furless mom's knows what works for our babies.

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  19. I agree on goats milk. I run a kitten rescue and that is our main go to for our orphaned kittens as well as our nursing mommas. Much better outcomes, health and growth, than with any other substitutes.

    Must say, you did great on the research.

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  20. I've recently took in a 2-3 week old foster and I've been using goats milk. He seems to really love it, but it gives him major diarrhea ^^' which I have no problem cleaning up since he's just a cute adorable baby. It seems to satisfy him better then the previous formula I was using as well.

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    1. I can't address your specific kitten. Maybe it has an allergy to goat milk proteins or maybe the diarrhea came from an external source such as coccidia or simply from the food change (switching kittens over to commercial formula often results in diarrhea)

      On the whole, the experiences of people who switch their kittens over to goat milk are very positive. they have healthy feeling and active kittens who grow up on schedule and hit all of their milestones in the top percentages. Yes, there are some who don't do well on it, but they are the exceptions - just as there are exceptions to every commercial formula out there.

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  21. Thank you! This article saved my bottle babies from constipation. Two days after switching to goat milk, they each had a huge, hard, long brick like poo. Now, it's all I use! The price for the fresh goat milk is comparable to formula. I also use it for all of my dogs and cats occasionally, too, which is recommended by holistic diet fans. Although, they usually prefer raw and I can't afford that.

    I post the link to this page on many facebook and Quora comments, so please leave it up forever.

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  22. I called my vets office and one of the techs that works there told me about goats milk, so I am trying it with this litter of fosters. I found that KMR was very constipation and had to take the last foster to the vets twice. One question though, these kittens are almost three weeks, do.i dilute the goat's milk?

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    1. I have heard recent recommendations to dilute it for kitten, but I never have. If you are using canned milk or powdered you might want to dilute it a bit more than is recommended to reconstitute it. if you are using fresh milk out of the fridge you should be good to go.

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  23. I use goat's milk for our runt kitten and he loves it, plus he's gaining weight with a lot of playful energy. I read the kitten milk formula and it has cow's milk in it so instead I'm using the goat milk and egg yolk.

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  24. Does the fresh goat's milk have a short shelf life, and how do you feel using the fresh as apposed to the powdered? Is there a powered that is better than others?

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    1. Yes, Fresh goat milk does have a shorter shelf life vs powdered. it has a similar shelf life to regular cow milk.

      I know a lot of people who use powdered goat milk from the baking isle to feed kittens. I don't so I can't recommend but as long as the only ingredient in it is the milk and it is a fresh container I am sure it is fine.

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  25. I'm so glad you put this out there! I've been using goat milk for orphan kittens for years with great success. Question - do you add powder kitten formula to the goat milk or do you feed just milk?

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    1. I just feed the milk. I know rescuers who do a half and half, I know some who make "kitten glop" out of goat milk by adding things like yogurt, mayonnaise, and egg yolks. I have had really good success with plain ol milk

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  26. I'm so glad you put this out there! I've been using goat milk for orphan kittens for years with great success. Question - do you add powder kitten formula to the goat milk or do you feed just milk?

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    1. I don't mix commercial formula with goat milk, but I know many people who do. There are a lot of people who simply aren't comfortable with goat milk having enough nutrients for kittens, and while I will completely agree it falls very short when compared to the milk a cat produces, I have found on almost every level it compares with KMR. well those levels I have done the math for..

      Since there is no repository of milk milked from cats to feed orphans, and most of us are simply feeding commercial formulas, I feel pretty comfortable recommending straight goat milk. Everyone's experiences and comfort level is different though, so if you (or more accurately anyone) is uncomfortable with it I totally understand

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  27. How long before it gets in their system and the KMR out? When should you see normal stools? I’m trying this with my 5 orphaned 11 day olds that have had horrible constipation all week on powdered KMR and the vet has told me to do daily enemas which scare me on tiny babies.

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  28. Unfortunately, it depends on the kitten. I would imagine a couple of days

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