Feeding newborn kittens baby formula

Bottle Feeding — Kitten Lady

When a kitten is without a mother, it's up to us to lend a hand. Bottle feeding is an essential skill for any kitten rescuer, and Kitten Lady makes it easy to learn with this step-by-step tutorial. Anyone can learn to bottle feed, but there are some tips you'll want to have in order to do so safely. Let's get started!


Get a Bottle and Nipple

You can purchase a bottle at any pet supply store or feed store, or online. Be aware that the nipple that comes on the bottle is not cut; you will need to cut a hole in it yourself. The hole should be big enough that if you hold it upside down, formula can slowly drop out of it -- but not so big that it flows out freely. Pictured here are Kitten Lady's preferred nipples for kittens, available by PetAg, Pet Nurser, and Miracle Nipple. 


Assess the Kitten

Before you feed a kitten, always make sure you've assessed her to make sure it is safe to feed. If a kitten is overheated or too cold, it is not safe to feed until you have gently stabilized their temperature. If a kitten is not able to swallow, it is not safe to feed. If a kitten has a cleft palate, it may be riskier to feed. Be sure that you've assessed the kitten's temperature and body condition before feeding. 

Ensure that the kitten is able to swallow by placing a drop of formula on their tongue and feeling the throat with one finger. If the kitten appears stable and is swallowing, proceed.

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 Prepare Your Bottle

You're going to need to purchase kitten formula -- you cannot feed kittens the milk that is in your fridge. Never feed a kitten cow's milk or other dairy products, dairy alternatives, or human baby formula, as this can be dangerous or even fatal to the kitten. Instead, purchase a kitten formula from a pet supply store, feed store, or online. Once opened, keep the formula refrigerated.  Prepare the formula according to the manufacturer's instructions, making sure that it is fresh, clump free, and comfortably warm.


 Feed the Kitten 

Lay the kitten in a natural, belly-down position -- never, ever on her back. Hold the kitten's head stable with your non-dominant hand. Gently slide the nipple into the kitten's mouth and invert the bottle to start the flow of formula. The kitten should roll her tongue into a U-shape and begin to swallow. Follow the feeding chart for a guideline of amount and frequency.

Be very careful not to squeeze formula into the kitten's mouth as this can cause aspiration. If you are feeding a very young kitten and having a difficult time controlling the flow, consider syringe feeding. 

If the kitten latches, that's great, but it's okay if it takes a while for her to get the hang of things! Bottle feeding is an art form that improves with time, so be patient and don't give up. If the kitten is having difficulty, try these tips:

Follow this guideline to determine the proper amount and frequency of feeding. Remember that every kitten is different, and this is a guideline--not a rule book!

  • Be sure you're holding the head and body stable to guide her. Kittens don't necessarily understand what you're trying to do, so it's up to you to hold them steady and show them.

  • Take a look at your bottle and nipple, and make sure there are no issues such as a nipple that is cut too big or too small, or clumps in the formula that may be causing a blockage.

  • Wrap the kitten in a small baby blanket if need be to help her feel focused and swaddled; just make sure she is still in a proper belly-down position.

  • Rubbing the face with a cloth or toothbrush can simulate a mother's tongue and help them feel prepared to eat.


Complete the Routine

After feeding, always ensure that you're cleaning the face by wiping away any formula with a warm, wet cloth or baby wipe. Formula left behind can cause the kitten to get a crusty face or moist dermatitis that causes the fur to fall out, so keep her clean. 

Once the kitten is cleaned up, make sure she has been stimulated to pee and poop, and is placed back in her warm, safe spot. 

In this video, I share helpful tips for feeding bottle baby kittens who are having a hard time latching.

In this video, I share two methods for bottle feeding: the standard hold and the overhand hold.

Check Out More Content From Kitten Lady

How to Use Kitten Formula to Bottle Feed a Kitten

With the right tools, formula, and patience, you can give a newborn kitten what she needs to grow into a healthy cat.

  • What to Feed
  • Choosing Formula
  • How To Bottle Feed
  • Homemade Formula

When it comes to feeding newborn kittens, it's hard to beat Mother Nature. A mother cat's milk provides everything a growing kitten needs to thrive. Sadly, though, orphaned kittens do happen, either when the mother cat dies unexpectedly or if she moves her babies to a different location and accidentally leaves one behind. That's when you need to step in and take over mom's job.

Luckily, orphaned newborn kittens can still eat with the help of kitten formula and bottle feeding. Through a careful schedule, a high-quality kitten milk replacement, and lots of patience, your kitten will be on their way to a strong and healthy development.

What To Feed a Newborn Kitten

Newborn kittens should be fed a commercial kitten milk replacement, a product that performs the same function as human baby formula. You can find commercial kitten milk replacer for sale at your local pet store or veterinarian's office. It's best to stick to brands certified by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, which means the food meets the nutrition requirements recommended by veterinary experts. 

Carlene Strandell, founder and director of Smitten with Kittens, a non-profit, foster-based kitten rescue that operates in Tallahassee, Fla. , says that feeding newborns requires two things: a bottle and kitten formula.

"You can buy a kitten bottle and formula at a pet store (or pet department in a big box store)," Strandell says. She says to feed newborn kittens a formulated milk replacer, which provides a complete and balanced mix of calories, vitamins, and minerals kittens need to grow. 

Kittens should never be fed human baby formula or cow's milk. Because kittens don't have the enzymes to properly digest lactose, cow's milk can quickly cause diarrhea, dehydration, and even death. In a pinch, Strandell says you can use goat's milk until you find a kitten milk replacement—but it shouldn't be longterm.

Choosing Kitten Formula

Commercial kitten milk replacement is designed to mimic a mother cat's milk and generally comes in two forms: dry or canned. Dry versions are easier to use because you can make as much formula as you need, reducing waste and cost. Strandell says that dry formula is also less likely to cause digestive upset in your kitten.

Once you choose a kitten milk replacement, follow the label directions carefully. Both canned and dry kitten formula must be refrigerated after opening and should be used before the expiration date. Fresh formula should smell slightly sweet. If there is a bitter or sharp smell, it's likely spoiled and should be thrown away.

Strandell also recommends using unflavored Pedialyte electrolyte solution instead of water for kittens who are sick or dehydrated. The solution can help provide the glucose and electrolytes the kitten needs, though you should be sure to check with a vet if the kitten appears unwell.

How To Use Kitten Formula To Feed a Newborn Kitten

Until your kitten can eat solid food on their own (usually 6 to 8 weeks), they'll need to be bottle-fed. As a general rule, newborn kittens should be fed less than a tablespoon of milk replacement every 2 to 3 hours. As kittens age, the time between meals and amount of formula fed each meal can increase. This chart offers a general guide, but all kittens are different, so be sure to check with your vet to see what formula amount and feeding schedule is right for your cat.

kitten bottle feeding schedule

Credit: Corinne Mucha

Once you know how much formula your kitten needs, it's time to feed. Here's how to safely bottle-feed a newborn kitten:

  1. Warm up the kitten. Before you feed a newborn kitten, make sure she's warm. Cold kittens will not suck. If the kitten's pads and ears feel cold to the touch, wrap the kitten in a towel and place it close to your skin to warm her up before feeding begins. Kittens who are two to 21 days old should have a body temperature between 96 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Warm up the formula. Mix the kitten formula and pour it into a bottle specifically designed for kittens. These special bottles are available at pet stores and veterinarian's offices. You'll want to use a nipple that's designed for newborns, and you may need to make a hole in the end of a new nipple before you start. Warm up the formula in the bottle by setting it in warm water (similar to how you'd warm a baby's bottle). You'll want the formula to be warm—not hot—to the touch, and the liquid should feel comfortable when applied to the inside of your wrist (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
  3. Feed the kitten carefully. Bottle-feeding a kitten requires a little how-to and a gentle touch. Start by placing the kitten on a towel with her belly down and gently tilt her head back with one hand. Then, with your other hand, gently introduce the nipple to the kitten's mouth. You may need to squeeze a little milk onto the kitten's lips to encourage her to suck. Never feed a kitten on its back, as this can cause choking. If the kitten continues to refuse to suck, use a syringe to very slowly and carefully start the feeding process.
  4. Clean up after feeding. Once they've finished eating, wipe your kitten's face with a baby wipe or a warm washcloth to prevent any spilled formula from drying on their fur.

Making Kitten Formula at Home 

Although using commercially formulated kitten milk replacement is recommended, you may not have any available in an emergency. Most adult cats are lactose intolerant and kittens lack the enzymes to properly digest lactose, so cow's milk is not considered an acceptable substitute as it can cause stomach upset. If kitten milk replacement is unavailable, in an emergency you can make your own using a mixture of karo syrup, goat's milk, egg yolks, and gelatin.

How to properly feed a newborn kitten | Hill's

Cats have a strong maternal instinct, but sometimes your furry pet doesn't want to feed her offspring or can't do it due to objective reasons. If you don't manage to give the kittens to another lactating cat, you will have to try on the role of a mother and feed them yourself. How to do it right?

What to feed a kitten

First of all, you need to buy a special mixture for feeding newborn kittens in a pet store. The composition of such mixtures is almost identical to mother cat's milk, rich in amino acids and does not cause digestive problems in kittens.

Do not feed kittens with cow's milk - it is very different in composition from cat's milk and can lead not only to diarrhea, but also to more serious health problems.

How to choose a syringe

You can purchase a special feeding syringe from a veterinary pharmacy. If you didn’t manage to buy such a syringe, you can use an ordinary plastic syringe with a rubber nozzle, after removing the needle from it.

Be sure to practice squeezing the mixture out of the syringe. Feed should come in small drops so that the kitten does not choke.

How to properly feed a kitten

When feeding a kitten with a syringe, follow the following steps:

  • before feeding, the kitten's tummy should be massaged a little to stimulate digestion;

  • hold the kitten upright during feeding and squeeze the mixture from the syringe drop by drop onto the kitten's lower lip so that the kitten has time to swallow the food;

  • after feeding, the newborn kitten should again be massaged on the tummy to stimulate defecation (after about a week he will be able to do this without additional help).

Feed quantity and mixture temperature

How much food does a newborn kitten need? Adhere to the following approximate calculation:

  • in the first 5 days the kitten needs 30 ml of a special mixture per day, kittens should be fed every 2-3 hours;

  • from 6 to 14 days, the amount of the mixture should be increased to 40 ml per day, the number of feedings is reduced to 8 times a day;

  • from the 15th to the 25th day, the amount of the mixture should reach 50 ml per day, it is already possible to feed the kittens only in the daytime, but at least 6 times.

The mixture must be fresh. Do not store the prepared mixture in the refrigerator for more than 6 hours.

The temperature of the formula for feeding a newborn kitten should be 36-38°C. The mixture should not be too hot or too cold. Before feeding, check the temperature of the formula by dropping it on your wrist.

Has the kitten eaten enough

Finding out that the kitten has already eaten is very simple - little kittens fall asleep almost immediately after eating. If the kitten does not have enough food offered to him, he will continue to squeak, push and look for a pacifier.

Do not overfeed your pet. Newborn kittens do not yet have a developed digestive system, and too much food can disrupt the intestines, causing constipation or diarrhea.

Introduction of complementary foods

From the age of about 3-4 weeks, the kitten can be introduced to solid food little by little. Portions of complementary foods should be small, about the size of a pea. In no case do not offer the kitten raw meat or fish - they may contain parasites. Also, do not give the kitten fried, fatty, salty, spicy foods and chocolate.

It is best to purchase a specialized dry or wet kitten food - its composition is properly balanced and rich in amino acids.

Before introducing complementary foods and if you have any questions about feeding and caring for a newborn kitten, be sure to consult a veterinarian. If you do not like something in the behavior of the kitten - he has no appetite, he is too lethargic, there is discharge from the nose or eyes - immediately visit a veterinary clinic.

Feeding Newborn Kittens - British Cat Blog


It is not uncommon for a little kitten to be left without a mother or a cat after a cesarean section refuses to accept cubs. In this case, you need to find a donor cat. Let it be a different breed, it is not so important, the kitten does not care. There is a known case when British kittens were fed by a Thai cat, loving them no less than their babies.

Find information about possible nursing cats at the cat club in your city.

If you are not lucky enough to find such a mother, then you need to take everything into your own hands and feed the baby yourself. Here are a few tips that will not be superfluous.

In the first days of life, the kitten needs to be fed every two hours, then you can switch to 5-6 meals a day.

Veterinary pharmacies sell cat milk replacer, which comes with detailed instructions, as well as all related products: a pipette, a measuring spoon, etc. Do not allow any amateur activity and strictly follow the recommendations.

Check the temperature of the mixture by dropping a little on the elbow joint - it should be warm, but never hot. Before you start feeding, massage your baby's tummy with a piece of damp cloth to improve peristalsis.

Ready mix can be changed. Here are a few options for making it at home.

1. Mix one egg yolk, 80 gr. milk, 20 gr. cream, 20 ml. 40% glucose, 1-2 drops of vitamins A and D and 3 ml. 5% ascorbic acid.
2. 100 gr. milk is beaten with 1 fresh chicken egg, then the mixture is filtered through cheesecloth. Add 1-2 drops of vitamins A and D.

Monitor your kitten's daily weight gain.

If you do not have a special dry formula for feeding kittens, you can purchase infant formula .

What you should pay attention to:
1. The mixture must be adapted - this means that it is as physiological as possible.
2. The mixture must be number 1 - for children from 0 to 6 months. This is important because a formula that is universal for all ages, by definition, cannot be good. Agree, a child at 1 week and at 1 year has completely different nutritional needs.
3. A measuring spoon must be included with the mixture. This allows you to accurately calculate the amount per meal. While the concepts of “Teaspoon” and “Tablespoon” are very vague.
4. List of good mixtures: Nutrilon, Similac, Friso, Nenny, NAN, Agusha, Nestogen, Humana.

Dilute the mixture.

For a kitten, the mixture should be about 1.5 times less saturated than for a child.
Therefore, we take a jar and look.
There should be a feeding table.
The first column is the age of the child.
The second is the amount of water.
Third - the number of spoons of the mixture.
The remaining columns do not interest us.
We take the first line. Divide the number from the second column by the number from the first. We get how much water you need for one scoop of the mixture. Multiply the resulting amount by 1.5.


0-1 month | 120 | 4 |

We divide 120:4=30. That is, one scoop of this mixture must be diluted in 30 ml of water. This is for a child.
Now multiply 30*1.5 = 45. This is for the kitten.
Thus, for a kitten, one scoop of the powder should be diluted in 45 ml of water.
I can say for sure - these calculations have been verified for mixtures of NAN, Nutrilon, Similac, Friso and Nestogen.
For everyone else - count yourself.

The required amount is calculated according to the feeding table, which is given in the second message of this topic.

If it turns out. that some mixture is not suitable, it sometimes happens individually, you can try alternative options from the same manufacturer - fermented milk formula, comfort, hypoallergenic, lactose-free, anti-reflux.

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