Can Cats Drink Baby Formula? The Surprising Answer Cat Owners Need to Know


Cats are naturally curious creatures, which often leads them to explore places their owners would rather they avoid. One common example is a cat trying to drink the baby formula prepared for an infant. This raises an important question for cat owners: is it actually safe for cats to drink formula intended for human babies?

While a cat lapping up a bottle or bowl of formula may seem adorable or harmless at first glance, there are some health risks involved that cat owners should be aware of. In this article, we’ll cover whether it’s okay for felines to consume formula, why they are attracted to it, potential dangers, and how to keep cats safely away from baby formula.

Is It Safe for Cats to Drink Baby Formula?

No, it is not safe or recommended for cats to drink baby formula intended for human infants. Baby formula is made from cow’s milk and contains nutrients tailored for the nutritional needs of growing human babies. Cat milk contains different ratios of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to support the growth of kittens (source).

Baby formula can pose serious health risks for cats. The high carbohydrate content can lead to digestive upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and other issues. Cats have difficulty properly digesting the lactose sugars found in cow’s milk. Baby formula also contains higher mineral content than cats require, which could lead to toxicity (source).

Overall, baby formula does not provide the right nutrition for cats and poses risks of digestive issues or toxicity. It should never be given as a substitute for proper kitten milk replacer or cat foods designed for feline health needs.

Why Do Cats Try to Drink Formula?

There are a few key reasons cats may be attracted to baby formula and try to drink it:

Smell and Taste Attract Cats

Formula can have an appealing smell and taste to cats. The milk-based liquid contains proteins and fats that cats naturally crave. Cats have a strong sense of smell, so the scent of formula can draw them in.

Curiosity and Opportunity

Cats are naturally curious creatures. If formula is left unattended, a cat may check it out and take a few laps just to explore. Cats are also opportunistic eaters and will sample available food sources in their environment. An open container of formula may seem inviting to a curious cat.

Risks of Baby Formula for Cats

Feeding human baby formula to cats can pose some serious health risks. Most notably, baby formula can cause significant gastrointestinal upset in cats. According to Can Baby Cats Drink Baby Formula, the primary ingredient in formula, lactose, is difficult for many cats to properly digest. This can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, gas, and abdominal pain.

The gastrointestinal upset caused by baby formula can quickly lead to dehydration in cats, especially kittens. According to Can Adult Cats Drink Baby Formula, dehydration in kittens from formula can become life-threatening very quickly. Dehydration causes electrolyte imbalances that can lead to muscle weakness, low blood pressure, and even seizures.

Another major risk is nutritional imbalances. Human baby formula is tailored to meet the needs of human infants, not cats. It lacks the proper amounts of nutrients like protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals that cats require. Long-term feeding of formula can lead to malnutrition, growth issues, and development problems in kittens.

Healthier Alternatives for Cats

There are several healthier alternatives for cats that owners can provide instead of baby formula:

Kitten milk replacer formulas are specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of kittens. Brands like KMR and PetAg offer powdered milk replacers that can be mixed with water. These provide a balanced blend of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals (1).

Unflavored pedialyte, diluted with an equal amount of water, can help kittens who are dehydrated from diarrhea or vomiting. It helps restore electrolyte balance. However, it should only be used for a day or two and is not a complete nutritional substitute (2).

Plain, fresh water should always be provided. Kittens and cats do not need milk or formula to thrive. Water supports hydration and kidney health.

These alternatives are healthier and safer for cats than baby formula. Owners should redirect their curious cats to appropriate foods and liquids.



Tips for Keeping Cats Away from Formula

There are some simple tips pet owners can follow to help keep cats away from baby formula and reduce the risks:

Store formula safely out of reach – Keep formula tightly sealed and stored up high where cats can’t access it. Use baby locks on cabinets. Never leave formula unattended in reach of cats.

Distract cats when feeding baby – Give cats a treat or play with them in another room when you need to prepare or feed formula to your baby. This prevents them from associating formula time with getting to drink milk.

Reward cats for leaving formula alone – Use positive reinforcement like treats and praise when cats show disinterest or walk away from formula. This helps reinforce good behavior.

Consider automatic feeders – These can distract cats with scheduled feedings and portion control. Cats may focus less on formula if fed small meals regularly.

Use deterrents – Try citrus scents, aluminum foil, or double-sided tape in areas you want to keep cats away from. They dislike the scent and texture.

Restrict access – Close doors and use baby gates to keep cats out of rooms when formula is in use. This removes the temptation.

Check with your veterinarian – They can provide more tips tailored to your specific cat and situation.

Signs of Illness from Ingesting Formula

There are a few key signs your cat may show if it becomes ill from ingesting baby formula. The most common signs are diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Uncharacteristic sluggishness, unsteady gait, drooling, heavy breathing, diarrhea, seizures, and sudden bouts of vomiting are among the common clinical signs of poisoning in cats.”

Specifically, ingesting formula that they shouldn’t be eating can cause abdominal issues like vomiting and diarrhea in cats. As noted by WagWalking, poisoning causes cats to “begin to salivate profusely from the mouth.” The indigestible ingredients in formula, like proteins and fats meant for human babies, irritate a cat’s gastrointestinal tract. Their stomach tries to quickly expel the foreign substance by inducing vomiting or diarrhea.

Repeated episodes of vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration in cats. The fluids and electrolytes being lost during these episodes are not being sufficiently replenished. According to Cats Protection, dehydration causes “pale blue gums” in poisoned cats. Dehydration requires swift veterinary treatment with IV fluids to recover from.

In addition to GI issues, lethargy or sluggishness is another potential sign. The abnormal gastrointestinal inflammation makes cats feel sick. Your cat may lose its appetite and become less energetic or engaged. According to Cornell, poisoned cats exhibit “Uncharacteristic sluggishness.” The lethargy indicates your cat is unwell and should see a vet immediately.

When to Call the Vet

If your cat has ingested baby formula, it’s important to monitor them closely for any concerning symptoms. You should contact your veterinarian right away if you notice any of the following:

  • Repeated vomiting or diarrhea
  • Not eating or drinking water
  • Lethargy lasting over 24 hours

According to the experts at Cat bandit, recurrent vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. A kitten not eating or drinking enough can become hypoglycemic. Lethargy for more than a day may signal a more serious underlying issue.

In these cases, you’ll want your vet to assess your cat and provide supportive care like fluids, anti-nausea medication, or glucose supplementation. Calling right away gives them the best chance at a quick recovery.

Preventing Future Formula Drinking

Proper training can help prevent cats from seeking out formula in the future. Use positive reinforcement when they drink water or eat cat food. Give treats and affection when they choose appropriate beverages. This will encourage them to avoid the formula. According to Cat Bandit, providing cats with appealing food and water alternatives can also curb interest in formula. Make sure fresh, clean water is always available. Consider getting a pet fountain since cats prefer running water. Offer various flavors of canned cat food to keep their interest. Securely storing formula out of reach and out of sight helps reduce temptation for cats. Keep formula in a cabinet cats cannot access or even in the refrigerator. With patience and the right tools, you can break the habit of formula drinking.


In summary, giving baby formula to cats can be very dangerous and should always be avoided. Formula is not nutritionally formulated for cats and can cause serious digestive upset, nutritional deficiencies, and even toxicity. It’s important to keep formula out of reach of curious cats. If your cat manages to drink some anyway, monitor them closely for signs of illness and contact your vet right away if you have any concerns. Providing cats with a consistent feeding routine using foods specifically made for feline nutrition is the healthiest way to care for your pet. With some simple precautions, you can keep your cat safe and avoid potential health issues caused by drinking baby formula.

The bottom line is – don’t offer formula to cats, and take steps to prevent them from accessing it on their own. Their health depends on a diet specifically tailored for their needs. If you have any other questions or concerns about your cat and formula, be sure to consult your veterinarian.

Scroll to Top