Can i feed a newborn kitten baby formula

Can Cats and Kittens Drink Baby Formula?

A common question new cat parents have is if cats and kittens can be given baby formula. It is completely reasonable that they consider feeding their cat baby formula. Because we give it to human babies, who are extremely fragile, many people think it must be okay to give it to cats.

The simple answer is that it depends on the cat’s age. There are reasons that justify giving your kitten baby formula if that is the only option you currently have, but there are also reasons why baby formula should not be given to your adult cat.

If you are eager to learn why baby formula is a controversial choice to feed your cat and want to learn if there are better alternatives, keep on reading.

Can kittens drink baby formula?

Before anything, it should be pointed out that no other alternative can ever be better than a kitten’s mother’s milk. The same way breastmilk is the best option for human babies, a cat’s milk will be the best option for kittens. This is because it contains everything the baby is ever going to need, from a stronger immune system to much-needed nutritional value. If the kitten’s mother is around, encourage breastfeeding as much as possible.

Let us discuss the components of baby formula. Baby formula is normally made from skimmed cow’s milk and is produced specifically to provide a human baby with the nutrients that it needs for that specific point in the child’s life. It contains lactose which babies will have no problem breaking down because as young children, their bodies still produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose.

Kittens, specifically the ones younger than 5 weeks old, can also digest lactose just fine. As they are weaned off of milk and taught to eat solid food, their bodies lose the ability to break down lactose.

If finding kitten milk formula is going to take some time because the store is far away, the kitten no longer has a mother, or if the mother no longer produces any milk, then it is completely justifiable to feed the kitten baby formula. But do try to get kitten formula as soon as you can.

If you are preparing baby formula for your cat, you may give twice as much as indicated for human babies.

If your kitten is weak, sickly, or fragile, taking them to the vet should be the first thing you do before feeding them baby formula. Their vet will then instruct you on what your next steps should be.

Can adult cats drink baby formula?

After the weaning stage, at around five or six weeks, the kitten should be eating mostly solid food. Starting at this age they are going to be less and less tolerant of milk that contains lactose.

Do not give baby formula to cats older than five or six because the lactose in the milk can cause stomach upset and possible diarrhea. This can be very harmful for your cat because this can lead to dehydration, which if severe enough, can be fatal.

Since cats who are eating solid food do not need to drink milk, refrain from including it in their diet.

What can I feed my cat if baby formula is not advised?

Mother’s milk

Nothing can ever beat the advantages of a mother’s milk. Aside from the fact that it is free, it covers all the kitten’s specific nutritional and health needs. It is advisable to keep the kitten with its mother before it is weaned and only consider the other options if mother’s milk is unavailable for some reason.

Goat’s milk-based formula

Goat’s milk is easier to digest for kittens compared to cow’s milk. If you have that around, use it instead of baby formula.

Solid food

For cats over 5 weeks old, teach them to eat solid food so they won’t have to go looking for milk of any kind. By this time, they should have a fully developed immune system. If they are 100% healthy, you can give them dry cat food which they should have no problem with. If they are not feeding well, you can try giving the cat chicken with rice. The addition of meat can encourage even cats who feel under the weather to eat.

Canned cat food

The options for canned cat food are endless. Nowadays, they come in a multitude of flavors and are designed to not cause any digestive problems. Despite this, as a cat owner, you should still do your research and choose the brand that is the safest and most nutritious for your cat. That option may not always be the cheapest, but the moment you decide to take a cat in, you should learn to prioritize what is best for it.

Wet cat food contains a lot of protein and fewer carbohydrates than dry cat food, which is a plus. Wet cat food also ups your cat’s water intake, which promotes hydration.

They also come in various flavors, so surely some of these flavors will work for your cat.


Yes, you can give your kitten baby formula if, and only if, there is no other choice. Only give it as a substitute while you are waiting to buy kitten formula, which is the best option after mother’s milk. Mother’s milk provides the kitten with the nutrients and immune system boosters it will need to lead a healthy life. If you have goat milk-based formula around, that is a better option than baby formula.

Never give a cat older than 5 weeks old baby formula, because their bodies can no longer break down lactose. If consumed, it may lead to stomach upset and diarrhea. Instead, teach your cat to eat solid food. If you have the means, incorporate canned wet cat food into their diet for protein-rich meals.

Image: / Maria Moroz

Recipes For Homemade Kitten Formula • Kitten Rescue

Posted at 04:09h in Cat Care by KR

The pet store is closed, and you have hungry kittens that need formula. Never fear! Here are some kitten formula recipes you can make using ingredients available at most grocery stores.

It is not unusual for kittens to have some difficulties digesting cow’s milk based formulas. The first formula on our list, which is based on goat’s milk, may be used instead of store-bought milk replacement formulas (such as KMR, Breeders’ Edge or Just Born) up until weaning. We do not recommend using the other formulas for long-term bottle feeding, but they can be useful should you need to feed your kittens and can’t find the ingredients for the homemade goat’s milk formula.

The Cornell Book of Cats says that human baby formula can be used if made up to double the normal strength, although human baby formula is normally not nutritious enough for kittens.

Homemade Formula #1

1 quart whole goat’s milk
1 teaspoon light Karo syrup
1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt (goat’s milk preferred)
1 egg yolk
Knox unflavored gelatin:

  • Newborn to 1 week — 1 pkg of Knox
  • 2nd week — 1 1/2 – 2 pkgs of Knox
  • 3rd week — 2 1/2 – 3 pkgs of Knox
  • 4th week — 4 pkgs of Knox

Put goat’s milk in saucepan, add gelatin in the amount above depending on the kitten’s age. Heat goat’s milk/gelatin mixture just until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Mix in remaining ingredients and refrigerate. It will keep up to one week. Heat until the formula is nearly warm, check the temperature, then test a few drops of milk on your wrist first. It should feel just a little warm or even cool, not too warm or hot. It is not recommended to use a microwave. Once it passes the skin temperature test, you are ready to feed kittens.

Homemade Formula #2 (for emergencies)

8 ounces homogenized whole milk
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salad oil
1 drop liquid pediatric vitamins (optional)

Mix well and warm before using. Keep refrigerated.

Emergency Formula #3 (for emergencies)

1 part boiled water to 5 parts evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon bone meal per 16 oz fluid

Mix well and warm before using. Keep refrigerated.

Emergency Formula #4 (for emergencies)

1 can evaporated milk
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons Karo syrup
1 drop liquid pediatric vitamins (optional)

Mix all three well and kept in tightly sealed jar in the fridge. At feeding time mix 1/2 of the estimated feeding amount with an equal amount of boiling water. (Once a day, mix 1 drop of human infant liquid vitamins in each kitties formula.) Always test temperature on your wrist before feeding. The combination temperature of the boiling water and chilled formula should be just about right.

If constipation occurs: add 1 drop of vegetable oil to each kitties formula no more than once daily until the problem is eased.


Read the next Kitten Care Handbook article: Kitten Care Basics.


How to feed a kitten | Pick a Friend Foundation

1. Gather the necessary supplies. To feed a newborn kitten, you will need some kind of specially designed device. If possible, use a bottle with a kitty teat set, such as Hartz. This bottle itself is small and made of transparent plastic with markings for more accurate measurement of liquids. The nipple is made of special rubber and has an appropriate comfortable shape to fit in the kitten's mouth. This allows him to suckle the bottle as if he were suckling his mother. nine0005

If you don't have a dedicated feeding device, then another alternative is a syringe that can be used to dribble milk into the kitten's mouth. However, the kitten does not have the ability to suck on a syringe, so try to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible.

2. Sterilize the equipment. It is critical to maintain sterile equipment. A simple wash is not enough for this. Consider using a steam sterilizer (like for baby bottles) or immerse the equipment in a bowl of cold sterilizing liquid, such as Chicco. nine0005

Cold sterilization fluid can usually be found in pharmacies in the children's section. Follow the instructions on the packaging. If you decide to use such a liquid when sterilizing your kitten's feeding equipment, do not forget to rinse everything with boiled water afterwards so that there are no residues of the sterilizing agent on the inventory.

3. Prepare and heat the mixture. If you are using liquid formula, open the jar and measure out the required amount of mixture according to the instructions. When using a powder mixture, follow the instructions on the packaging regarding the required number of scoops per volume of water. Always follow the directions exactly, as a mixture that is too strong can lead to stomach upset, while a formula that is too dilute will not provide the kitten with the required amount of nutrients. nine0005

Always prepare a fresh batch of formula for every feeding. The mixture does not contain preservatives, and the immune system of a newborn kitten is still weak, so getting bacteria from the environment into the milk can be a disaster for his health.

Do not microwave; because of this, too hot and too cold areas can form in the mixture. Instead, simply place the mixture in a container and place it in hot water to heat up. nine0008
Make sure the milk is at the right temperature – neither too hot nor too cold. Ideally, the mixture should be at body temperature, so when you apply a couple of drops of it to the back of your hand, their temperature should seem to be about the temperature of your skin. If you use too hot mixture, you can burn the kitten's mouth.

4. Check your kitten's body temperature. When you are ready to feed your kitten, make sure it is warm. To some extent, a kitten's ability to digest food depends on its body temperature. If the kitten is cool, his digestion will slow down, and the mixture will linger in the stomach and ferment. Newborn kittens usually cling closely to their mother and therefore remain quite warm. For the first three weeks of their life, a temperature of about 35.6-37.8 degrees will be considered ideal. nine0005

Try to keep the kitten at this temperature by placing a heating pad under a well-insulated kitten nest. If you don't have a heating pad, use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to prevent the kitten from coming into direct contact with the hot water and getting burned. Refresh the hot water as needed to keep the kitten warm.

5. Feed the kitten. Sit in a comfortable chair with a folded towel on your lap. Place the kitten in the same way as it would be fed by its mother: lay it on its stomach with its paws down and with its head slightly raised. The first time you try to feed the kitten, squeeze a drop of the mixture onto the tip of the nipple or syringe. Bring it very close to the kitten's mouth. The kitten has a rather acute sense of smell and, most likely, having smelled milk, he will try to kiss the nipple or syringe. nine0005

When using the pacifier at this stage, you should help the kitten a little by inserting it into its open mouth. Natural instincts should take over and the kitten should start suckling.

When using the syringe, gently press the plunger to release a drop of milk into the kitten's mouth. Let the kitten swallow between drops. Never fill your mouth with milk completely, as the kitten can inhale the milk, it will enter the lungs and develop pneumonia, which is usually fatal for kittens. Just take your time and go slowly. nine0008

The position of the kitten is very important. Never feed it upside down like a human baby and make sure the kitten is lying on its stomach during feeding. Make sure that his head is not up, as this can lead to inhalation of the mixture into the lungs, which is very dangerous and can lead to the death of the kitten.

6. Feed your kitten the correct amount of formula. Kitten formulas are usually accompanied by instructions on how much and how often to feed. Follow these instructions. The following are only generalized indications of the volume and frequency of feeding mixtures of kittens in the first weeks of their life. nine0005

At the age of 1-3 days, give 2.5 ml of cat's milk replacer every two hours.
At the age of 4-7 days, give 5 ml of the mixture and organize 10-12 feedings per day.
At the age of 6-10 days, give 5-7.5 ml of the mixture and organize 10 feedings per day.
At the age of 11-14 days, give 10-12.5 mixtures and feed the kittens every three hours.
At the age of 15-21 days, give 10 ml of the mixture 8 times a day. At the age of over 21 days, give 7. 5-25 ml 3-4 times a day simultaneously with the introduction of solid food. nine0008

7. Pay attention to important signs while feeding your kitten.

When learning and practicing formula feeding a kitten, remember that improper feeding can lead to breathing problems. Make sure that milk does not flow out of his nose during feeding, and his stomach does not swell.
In terms of feeding volumes, if your kitten is greedy enough to continue sucking on the pacifier even after exceeding the recommended dose, examine his belly. If it swells up and becomes tight, stop feeding. This is a sign of a full stomach, it's just that the kitten hasn't realized it yet. Don't overfeed him. nine0008

If your kitten eats less than the recommended amount, don't panic. This may be his personality. If you're worried about your kitten being malnourished, instead of trying to force more formula into him at the risk of choking his lungs, stop, let the kitten rest, and try feeding the kitten again in about an hour.

8. Remain calm. It is very important not to lose patience and remain calm when you feed the kitten so that he is also calm. In addition, allow the kitten to eat as long as he needs to avoid overeating or digestive problems. nine0005

Stimulate burping by placing the kitten's back against your body and stroking its belly. When a cat cares for kittens, she licks them and thereby stimulates urination and defecation. Don't be surprised by any of the possible results - these are good signs!

9. Clean the kitten's bottom. The mother cat usually licks the kittens' bottoms and genitals immediately after feedings to stimulate urination and defecation. She also eats their excrement, which is a natural way to keep the nest clean, as a dirty nest can attract predators. In the absence of the mother, you need to intervene in this process. Take a damp cotton swab and wipe the kitten's anal area, imitating licking movements. As soon as the kitten goes to the toilet, wipe off the excrement with a cotton swab. Finish the procedure with an additional wipe of the kitten's buttocks with a clean cotton swab, and you will be free until the next feeding. nine0005

This is an important step in the successful feeding of a kitten. If the mother's stimulation of urination and defecation is not imitated, the kitten will not empty its bladder and bowels normally, which can cause it to become seriously ill.

10. Return the kitten to its warm nest or box to rest. Continue to follow a regular daily feeding schedule for the coming weeks until weaning and proper transition to solid foods. Additionally, consult your veterinarian regarding a suitable diet at the time of weaning. nine0005

Introduce solid foods in the form of soft canned food and solid kibble when the kitten is about four weeks old. Some kittens prefer to bottle feed for up to eight weeks, so the progress of the transition to solid food should be monitored by a professional veterinarian.

Is it possible to feed a kitten with baby food: pet care and nutrition chart

An unexpected discovery of a newborn kitten on the street or a mother cat who has abandoned offspring is a reason for panic not only for beginners, but also for experienced pet owners. How to take care of the baby, how to save? There are a lot of opinions and advice on this matter, but the main stumbling block is proper feeding. Let's see if it is possible to feed a kitten with baby food and what can be done to keep the crumbs healthy. nine0005


  • 1 Feeding kittens
  • 2 How to feed kittens
  • 3 How to dilute kitten formula
  • 4 How to feed a kitten?

About feeding kittens

Let's immediately determine that a blind kitten on the street, even if it is in a box and covered with a cloth, is a non-resident. If you find a similar find, the decision is up to you! Feeding kittens is a big responsibility and literally sleepless nights. nine0005

The only chance to save a newborn kitten that is not fed by a cat is a person. Even if you've made up your mind that you can't help the baby, there are a few things you can do:

  • Try to find someone who can take care of the feeding by taking the kitten for a while.
  • Go to a clinic where the kitten will be euthanized - you may think that this is cruel, but is a slow, starvation death more humane?

The next important point is the chances of survival. If you are taking care of babies who were rejected by the cat, that is, they were warm, not injured, etc. - the chances of survival are higher. Having found a blind kitten on the street, you should be prepared for the fact that he may die due to:

  • Hypothermia.
  • Too long hunger.
  • Injuries received.

Please note! Cats are very good mothers and they rarely abandon their offspring, but if this happens, the kids need to be shown to the doctor.

The fact is that a cat can leave offspring if it is not viable, for example, prematurely. In this case, if you decide to feed orphans, all the risks and scenarios will be known to you in advance. nine0005

There are very few chances for kittens that have not developed a sucking reflex or stop the digestive process . The stop can happen for two reasons:

  • The kitten has been starving for too long.
  • The kitten has never sucked milk, in fact, in this case, digestion has not yet started and the chances of survival are higher.

Lack of oral reflex almost always equals doom. The kitten may refuse to suckle milk if the reflex is not yet developed (prematurity) or if it is too weak (pre-lumpy or lethargic). nine0005

Tip: In the early stages of lethargy, the kitten can be revived by warming and vigorously (but gently) rubbing the body from the extremities to the heart.

So, you have a newborn kitten, what should you do first? Decide what and how to feed. We will talk about the choice of the type of feeding below, there are several answers to the question of what to feed:

  • A syringe without a needle is not the most convenient way, but as a temporary solution it will do. nine0120
  • Pipette is also not the most convenient way, because the kitten can suck, but not lick.
  • Syringe with rubber tip - a rubber band from a pipette, a piece of tubing from a dropper or a rubber catheter is put on the rigid nozzle of the syringe. The kitten will be able to suck a rubber nozzle, and with the help of a piston it will be convenient for you to control the flow of milk. Only one caveat - make sure that the kitten does not suck the nozzle, it must hold securely.
  • nine0119 Drop bottle for nose, ears etc. - the tube must be thoroughly rinsed, poured over with boiling water and make sure that there are no foreign odors left in it.
  • Special Kitten Bottle - like a baby bottle with a teat, only much smaller.

Important! The kitten must suck, that is, make an effort to get milk. If you just pour the formula into your baby's mouth, he may lose his sucking reflex. nine0005

Feeding rules and frequency for kittens

Don't be alarmed if the baby sucks weakly during the first feedings, he may be exhausted. If everything goes well, you will be convinced of the assertiveness of the baby, you don’t even have to put pressure on the plunger of the syringe or the bottle, the kitten will suck everything out by itself, and very quickly. However, here we are talking about a monthly kitten, in the first day and even weeks, such progress should not be expected.

Let's talk about the general rules that must be followed, regardless of the age and condition of the ward:

  • Kittens are fed only in the prone position (natural) or in an upright position (with a weakened sucking reflex). If you lay the baby on his back, there is a risk of suffocation.
  • Strictly control the gradual introduction of the mixture, as the kitten may inhale excess liquid.
  • The bottle should be held at a comfortable angle for the kitten, but not vertically or horizontally.
  • Never force-feed leftover formula, even if you think your baby hasn't eaten enough. It is better to take a break and offer the pacifier again after 30-40 minutes. nine0120
  • After feeding , massage 's abdomen and genital area with a wet sponge - if this step is skipped, the kitten will not be able to go to the toilet, will suffer from intoxication and will most likely die.

Important! A formula-fed kitten has a weak immune system! Keep the litter, nipple and bottle clean, the freshness of the mixture, the temperature and the absence of drafts.

Now let's look at the frequency of feeding. We will determine in advance that the kitten eats until it is full and falls asleep. For a daily baby, eating takes about 5 minutes, the older the kitten becomes, the faster he will cope with the nipple. We didn’t joke about sleepless nights above, a newborn kitten eats every 2-3 hours, a week-old kitten eats every 4 hours ... day and night. nine0005

You will know if your baby is getting enough food and nutrients if you weigh your child. Until about 3 weeks of age, the baby should gain 10-15 grams every day.

Age Feeding advice and frequency
1 week (1-7 days) Feed every 2-3 hours. From the fifth day, if the kitten does not wake up by itself, the frequency of night feeding is increased to 1 time in 3 hours. nine0256
2 weeks (7-14 days) Feed every 4 hours. From the tenth day, if the kitten does not wake up by itself, the frequency of night feeding is increased to 1 time in 5 hours.
3 weeks (14-21 days) Feed every 5-6 hours. Physically strong kittens from 15–20 days should be taught to lap from a saucer.
4 weeks (21-28 days) Feed every 5-6 hours. From 23–25 days, you need to try to introduce complementary foods and strictly monitor the reaction of the digestive system. If necessary, you need to use drugs to eliminate colic. nine0256

Please note! By the fifth week, the kitten should be able to lap from the saucer. From the fifth week, you need to expand the diet - give boiled minced meat, broths, sour-milk products.

How to mix kitten formula

Owner's manual:

  • Water needs to be prepared. It must be boiled and defended. But in the ideal case, it is better to pass boiled water through a filter (an ordinary jug will do). This will rid the liquid of scale particles. You can also use bottled water for children from 0 to 3 years old. Before use, it is heated to 37°C. nine0120
  • After that, the dry mixture is poured into the water in a thin stream and thoroughly mixed, ensuring that there are no lumps in the resulting “milk”.
  • Mixtures should be taken 2 times less than indicated in the instructions. For example, if you rely on 50 ml of water to take 10 grams, then for a kitten you need to breed only 5 grams. All figures are approximate, you need to read the instructions for a specific mixture!

What to feed a kitten?

It's time to figure out what to feed the kitten. Naturally, the best option is to find a lactating cat that will accept an orphan. Before the invention of cat's milk substitutes, newborn kittens (and puppies) were fed cow's or goat's milk. nine0005

  • Goat milk was considered the best option because it contains more lactobacilli.
  • Cow's milk has never been recognized as a good source of feeding, but there were no special alternatives. Today, cow's milk is categorically not recommended for feeding kittens, and goat's milk is urged to be diluted with water in a 1:1 ratio.

Please note! If you feed a kitten with cow's or goat's milk, monitor the condition of his skin and stool. The fact is that the baby may be allergic to lactose in foreign milk, and it is very difficult to notice it. nine0005

infant formula has been used successfully for feeding newborn kittens, but: