Baby food is a great tool for cats. Always keep a few jars handy! It may help stimulate the appetite when they are not eating. When cats don’t eat, they can get very sick, and then feeling sick makes them not want to eat so it is a vicious cycle. It’s no secret that even veterinary clinics use baby food for cats!
It can also be used for an occasional treat or for giving some medications. Try crushing pills and hiding them in a teaspoon of baby food- this works really well for some cats.
Other cats are just really smart and can sense when you’ve done something to their food and will refuse to touch it.
However, with very bitter tasting pills (such as Metronidazole or Amitriptyline) this will not work.
Not sure if your cat’s meds are bitter tasting? Ask your vet or the staff at the clinic.
Some medications can be compounded with flavors-this is a great option if you are having trouble medicating your cat.
Compounded medications also are usually more expensive and may need to be refrigerated.
Remember you only need to use a very small amount (i.e. a teaspoon or a tablespoon) of baby food for medications. Give this small amount with the meds in it to your cat first and make sure they eat it! Then they can have more food after.
Some cats are smart and they just know when you’ve put something in their food and they won’t touch it.
What kind of baby food can I give my kitty?
Meat only. You will want to check the ingredient list to make sure it does not contain any herbs, spices, fruits or veggies- it should only say meat and water.
Some brands like Gerber & First Choice also add cornstarch, which will work if you cannot find any without cornstarch in it (and if your cat is not diabetic).
- Beech Nut Classics 1st Stage is available in chicken, turkey, or beef
- Gerber 2nd Stage is available in chicken, turkey, ham, or beef
- First Choice Stage 2 is available in chicken or turkey.
- Wild Harvest Organic 2nd Foods is available in chicken or turkey
- Earth’s Best Organics, Happy Baby/Happy Tot, & Plum Organics DO NOT have any varieties that are suitable for cats.
On its own, baby food is not nutritionally complete, so it cannot be the only thing you feed your cat.
Why not? It is just meat blended with water into a smooth puree, so it doesn’t contain important:
- Minerals (like calcium)
- Omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oils)
- Additional taurine
Taurine is found in meat, but cats need quite a bit of it. Processing or freezing destroys some of the taurine in the meat that is in commercial cat foods, so these companies always add more taurine to their foods to make up for this.
The goal is to get them eating regular cat food on their own (you will need to force feed if your cat is refusing every kind of food you offer).
If your cat digs the baby food, you can try mixing it with canned cat food.
For example, if your cat supposed to be on a special prescription canned diet (such as Hill’s c/d for urinary tract issues) but doesn’t like what the vet wants them to eat, mix it about half and half with baby food.
Keep this in your kitty emergency kit!
Thanks for giving such a great explanation of why and how baby food can be used for cats. I appreciate the detailed recommendations you made concerning brands and ingredients, and also the caution and reasons why baby food should not be overused with cats. If my cat refuses medicine after I have tried to hide it in baby food, what is Plan B?
If it is a pill/tablet, most of those can be crushed and then instead of mixing with food mix it with a small amount of water or tuna juice (~1-2 teaspoons) and use a syringe to give it as if it is a liquid medication.
Pill pocket treats may work for some cats. Some people swear by hiding meds in cheeze whiz.
I will eventually write up a whole post about methods to give cats medications.
Glad you found this post helpful.
Thank you for the information. I’m having the most success getting my 16 yr old cat to eat with baby food. How many jars do you recommend per day to be equivalent to a normal feline diet?
The Gerber brand chicken baby food has 90 calories per jar. A cat should ideally have 2 full jars in a day if they are refusing to eat anything else. Normal canned cat food has anywhere between 70-100 calories in a 3 oz can, and 140-180 or a little more for a 5.5 oz can depending on the brand and flavor. The total number of calories a cat needs in a day varies per individual, but is 150-200 on average. Their metabolism will decrease a bit every few years as they age.
There are new wet treats that have the same consistency as baby food called Tiki Cat STIX, Inaba Churu, or Hartz Delectables Squeeze-Up treats. These brands are sold anywhere pet food is sold, and online on Amazon. I believe that all of those, even the chicken-flavored ones, contain fish flavoring. Just another option to be aware of in case they get tired of regular baby food.
My cat is 14 and has been prescibed an early kidney function food. He’s rejected Hills and we’re now trying Pro Plan NF, which I think he’s only eating b/c he’s really hungry. He doesn’t really like it and now wants Gerbers Baby Chicken more and more often. He only likes kibble and I’m at my wit’s end. Would you suggest I get the canned renal food and mix it with Gerbers? He consistently refuses canned cat food.
It is a great idea to try mixing it! The goal then would be to mix in just enough to get him to eat it, and then over time see if you can decrease the amount of baby food-very slowly. The problem with renal diets is that they are so low in protein that they are not appetizing to cats.
If you haven’t already tried Royal Canin, they have a prescription line with a Renal Support Starter Kit. It comes with 3 samples of dry foods and 3 cans of wet. The dry diets are Renal Support A, Renal Support F, & Renal Support S. Each food is supposed to have a different smell & taste. Renal Support E is a smooth pate that comes in a 5.5 oz can. Renal Support D & T are chunky/morsels in gravy that come in 3 oz cans.
Royal Canin claims to make their diets twice as palatable as other foods before they put them on the market. Worth a try if the Purina NF doesn’t work out.