7 Amazing Benefits of Colostrum for Cats to Know

7 Amazing Benefits of Colostrum for Cats to Know

1/6/2024 | 8 minute read

You may have heard of colostrum or “first milk” before, but did you know that cats can enjoy significant benefits by taking it as a supplement?

Kittens and other newborn mammals receive vital colostrum from their mother’s early-produced milk in the first few days after birth. However, as a supplement, colostrum can continue to provide health benefits for cats long into adulthood.

Colostrum for cats contains proteins, natural growth factors, and immunoglobins. This powerful supplement can improve immunity, support a healthy gut, mitigate allergic responses, and more.

Table of contents

What is colostrum?

Mother cow and calf in a green field while calf drinks mother's milk.
Mother cow and calf in a green field while calf drinks mother's milk.

Colostrum is the yellowish fluid produced by a mammal’s mammary glands after giving birth. It’s the liquid substance produced before mature milk develops and is filled with critical nutrients to support and protect newborn life.

As a supplement for cats, colostrum is sourced primarily from cows (called bovine colostrum) because “​​BC [bovine colostrum] is 100 to 1000 times more powerful than human colostrum” (source).

Colostrum is a concentrated superfood filled with powerful natural growth factors, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, antibodies, enzymes, peptides, and proteins.

Kittens receive colostrum from their mothers to protect against infections and develop immunity. When taken as a supplement, adult cats can also benefit from colostrum’s anti-inflammatory, gut-boosting properties.

Interested in raw cat food with colostrum?

The incredible benefits of colostrum for cats

1. Strengthens immune function

Cats and kittens can experience many challenges as they grow, including vaccinations, weaning, rehoming, and more. These stressors, especially for young kittens, can lead to a weakened immune system without proper nutrition and supplementation.

Colostrum is excellent for cats with weakened immune systems or those needing an immune boost because it contains powerful proteins, enzymes, peptides, and antibodies:

  • Lysozyme. Lysozyme is an enzyme that plays an antimicrobial role in the body and is responsible for killing bacteria. This enzyme improves overall immunity by actively fighting harmful bacteria and viruses (source).

  • Lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a protein (specifically, a glycoprotein) that binds iron from oxidative stress to improve overall immune function. It also has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Finally, it “provides protection against pathogens and their metabolites by enhancing phagocytosis and cell adherence and controlling the release of proinflammatory cytokines” (source).

  • Lactoperoxidase. Lactoperoxidase is an antimicrobial enzyme that protects the body against pathogens. This enzyme generates “reactive oxygen and nitrogen species…which have bactericidal and bacteriostatic effects against pathogens including opportunistic bacteria” (source).

  • Immunoglobins. Immunoglobins are antibodies found primarily in lymph fluid and blood. The main immunoglobin in colostrum is IgG; the secondary immunoglobins are IgM and IgA. Immunoglobins function to neutralize and eliminate pathogens in the body.

  • Thymosin. Thymosin is a peptide “recognized for modifying, enhancing, and restoring immune function” (source).

2. Promotes healthy gut microflora

Colostrum promotes a healthy gut and gastrointestinal tract in multiple ways.

First, colostrum is known to quicken the body’s metabolic processes and serve as an anti-inflammatory agent in the GI tract. It also boosts nutrient absorption, allowing cats' bodies to fully reap their food's benefits.

Second, colostrum supports mucosal healing, thus relieving issues like diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, and more.

Finally, colostrum contains oligosaccharides, or carbohydrates responsible for cell adhesion and recognition, that serve as a prebiotic. Oligosaccharides promote the development of beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping the microbiome become and remain healthy.

3. Improves skin and coat health

Generally, the prebiotics, antioxidants, growth factors, vitamins, and peptides found in colostrum make it a potent anti-inflammatory agent in the body. Cats’ skin and coat health will improve, become softer, and become less irritated with less inflammation.

Additionally, colostrum can be used topically to promote collagen production, strengthen the skin barrier, and strengthen hair follicles.

Some people have successfully used a colostrum paste topically on skin infections, ear infections, bites, cysts, wounds, and oral diseases. To make the paste, simply combine distilled water with powdered colostrum.

4. Assists with environmental allergies

Proline-rich polypeptide complex (PRP), or Colostrinin(CLN), is found in bovine colostrum.

PRP has “immunoregulatory properties, including effects on the maturation and differentiation of murine thymocytes and humoral and cellular immune responses…PRP seems to restore balance in cellular immune functions and is not species specific” (source).

Additionally, “the peptides appeared to relieve inflammatory pressures, for example sinus pressures, and other allergic symptoms in all cohorts” (source).

PRP functions to balance the immune system by creating homeostasis of T-cell production. If the body is overreactive, it lowers T-cell production; if the body is under-reactive, it increases T-cell production. T-cells regulate the body's immune response to allergen triggers.

Combined with PRP, colostrum’s anti-inflammatory properties and immune-strengthening functions make it a powerful supplement to modulate allergenic responses.

5. Supports cell and tissue regeneration

Growth factors found in colostrum, notably EGF (epidermal growth factor) and other IGFs (insulin-like growth factors), help with growth and repair functions in the body.

  • Insulin-like growth factor 1. IGF-1 plays an essential role in promoting tissue generation and regeneration, cell replacement, and glucosamine utilization.

  • Insulin-like growth factor 1. IGF-2 is an animal and human metabolism and growth regulator (source). Specifically, IGF-2 “is a protein hormone known to regulate cell proliferation, growth, migration, differentiation and survival” (source).

  • Epidermal growth factor. EGF found in colostrum “is a 53-amino-acid cytokine…[that] acts to stimulate growth of epithelial cells…[and] is involved in wound healing” (source).

All cats, especially aging ones, can benefit greatly from a powerful supplement like colostrum to help with healing and cell regeneration. This supplement can help preserve bone density and muscle mass, improving mobility while aging.

6. Fights periodontal disease

Periodontitis occurs when harmful bacteria damage the connective tissue between teeth and gum. This disease occurs mainly when plaque and tartar accumulate in the mouth.

Along with a healthy, biologically appropriate diet, colostrum can help cats with dental disease experience relief. Antimicrobial enzymes, immunoglobins, and other growth factors can help the body fight harmful bacteria and restore balance to the mouth.

Special benefit: colostrum and cancer

There is exciting evidence that properties in colostrum may fight or even prevent various cancers.

How does this work?

Earlier in the article, we discussed the powerful role of lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is “a highly effective immunological modulator, anti-cancer drug, and tissue regenerator. Additionally, it can prevent the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines” (source).

Also, “Lactoferrin and lactalbumin have been reported to trigger apoptosis [cell death] in malignant cells” (source).

Overall, there is promising research pointing to the fact that proteins in colostrum can fight and kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact.

Oma’s Pride cat food with colostrum

If you want to incorporate colostrum into your cat’s bowl, Oma’s Pride Purr Complete Feline Poultry Meal is the best way to do so.

Purr Complete is a completely raw meal crafted from antibiotic-free meat, bones, organs, and colostrum. This raw poultry meal is ideal for carnivorous felines; it’s free from grains, fruits, vegetables, fillers, preservatives, by-products, soy, or other additives.

Additionally, Purr Complete meets and exceeds AAFCO feline nutritional standards for all life stages. This product is your all-in-one meal with added colostrum to enrich your cat’s health and longevity.

Please note! The colostrum in Purr Complete is a high-quality dried bovine colostrum from pasture-fed cows in small herds in the USA. The colostrum is antibiotic and pesticide-free without added hormones or rBGH. The colostrum is collected after the first milking only (not later) to ensure maximum nutritional quality.

Purr Complete is available in frozen raw and freeze-dried forms, depending on what works best for your lifestyle. You can also save with a Feline Raw Meal Subscription delivered straight to your door!

About Oma’s Pride

Oma’s Pride is a small 4th-generation family business that crafts the highest quality raw pet food. All proteins are sourced and raised in the USA, the food is 100% raw (no HPP), all ingredients are human-grade, and everything is crafted in small batches in a USDA facility.

What to look for in colostrum supplements

When searching for the best colostrum supplement, it’s important to know that quality and sourcing matters. Not all colostrum supplements are made equal.

  1. Processing. Typically, colostrum comes in a powder form. Colostrum is also sold as a capsule or in liquid form. High-quality colostrum is made shelf-stable by freeze-drying the milk to maintain maximum nutritional quality.

  2. Hormones and chemicals. The best colostrum supplements are free from added hormones like rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), chemicals, and antibiotics.

  3. IgG percentage. High-quality colostrum for cats will contain higher levels of IgG as this increases its potency. Lower-quality sources will contain lower levels of IgG. The acceptable range of IgG can be anywhere from 15% to 45%.

According to NIH, “The primary immunoglobulin in cow colostrum and milk is IgG, whereas the primary immunoglobulin in human milk is IgA…Nevertheless, bovine IgG from colostrum or milk can be effective as a means of providing passive immunity to protect animals and humans from disease” (source).

A supplement with 15% IgG is on the lower end but can be beneficial as a general wellness supplement. Look for a higher percentage of IgG to unlock all the benefits of colostrum, such as improved immunity and allergy support.

Did you know? The bovine colostrum in Oma’s Pride Purr Complete Recipe contains 36% IgG, making it a high-quality and potent colostrum. It is sourced from only grass-fed cows in the USA without added hormones, antibiotics, or chemicals.

Are there ethical considerations with colostrum?

Some pet parents may be concerned that collecting colostrum from cows does not leave enough for calves. However, “colostrum is normally produced in amounts that exceed the need of the newborn” (source).

Additionally, “bovine colostrum comprises only 0.5% of a bovine’s milk output in a year, but this is far more than the calf’s requirements…For this reason, excess colostrum has a high potential for use in various industrial-scale applications” (source).

Cows produce more than enough colostrum to provide for calves; the excess colostrum is what humans use to create supplements. It is estimated that calves consume about a third of the colostrum produced, leaving approximately two-thirds for other uses.

If you’re worried about getting colostrum from an ethical company, ask the supplier for details about how they harvest colostrum to ensure they leave enough for calves to thrive.

When sourcing from a reputable company, pet parents can rest assured that feeding cats colostrum is a healthy and ethical choice!

How to serve colostrum to your cat

Colostrum supplement powder with measuring cup with pink background.
Colostrum supplement powder with measuring cup with pink background.

There are a variety of ways to serve colostrum to your cat, depending on the type of supplement you purchase.

For example, if you purchase a powder supplement, all you need to do is follow the instructions, add the powder to the food, and mix it in. You can even add water to make the mix smoother.

Adding colostrum on top of a snack or meal makes it highly palatable for picky cats.

Colostrum is the most effective when taken on an empty stomach; however, some cats won't eat it by itself. Your cat will still reap tremendous benefits by mixing the colostrum powder into food.

Overall, please note that consistency is key. As with any supplement, you will experience the best results over time. We recommend incorporating colostrum into your cat’s daily routine to see the maximum benefits.

Note! Oma’s Pride Purr Complete Recipe contains colostrum as an essential ingredient. By feeding this raw cat food, you can ensure that your cat is consistently getting colostrum in their diet without the hassle of adding additional ingredients to the bowl.

Frequently asked questions

1. Where can I buy colostrum for cats?

You can purchase colostrum for your cat or kitten anywhere you buy supplements, such as an online retailer or a local pet store.

2. Is colostrum safe for cats?

Yes, colostrum is extremely safe and healthy for cats to consume. Benefits of colostrum include strengthened immunity and gut, fewer allergies, improved skin and coat health, and cellular regeneration.

3. Can cats with milk allergies consume colostrum?

Most cats, even those with milk allergies, can safely consume colostrum because it doesn’t contain a lot of lactose. If you’re concerned, start by feeding small amounts of colostrum and slowly increase dosage as tolerated.

Clancy Giesbrecht, copywriter, marketer, and dog mom carrying her dog Lyra.

About the Author

Clancy Giesbrecht is a copywriter, marketer, dog mom, and educator with a B.A. in English from Pepperdine University. At Oma's Pride, Clancy works as a Copywriter & Marketing Strategy Coordinator with years of experience in the raw pet food space. Clancy strongly believes in holistic remedies and raw feeding for her dogs because it's the key to unleashing their healthiest, longest lives. When she's not hanging out with her dogs, you can find her reading, playing board games, traveling, and hiking.

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