How often do you feed baby kittens
Feeding Orphaned Kittens | VCA Animal Hospital
Newborn kittens are relatively immature at birth compared to many other mammals. The period of time they spend being nursed by their mother (queen) helps the newborn kitten transition from in utero nutrition to solid food.
When a kitten is raised on queen's milk, their growth and health is influenced by:
- the nutrition of the queen during pregnancy and early lactation,
- the queen’s overall physical health and behavior, and
- good neonatal care.
The first few days of a queen's milk is known as colostrum. Colostrum is very high in protein and transfers important immune system elements. Whenever possible, newborn kittens should receive their mother's milk as it sets the stage for normal immune system function and protection from disease.
"If the queen is incapable of raising her kittens herself, the kittens are considered orphans and some important needs must be met in order to ensure their survival. "
If the queen is incapable of raising her kittens herself, the kittens are considered orphans and some important needs must be met in order to ensure their survival. These needs include appropriate heat, humidity, nutrition, elimination, sanitation, and social stimulation.
Fortunately, most orphaned kittens can be raised successfully with a bit of care and attention to detail. Using a logbook to track their development is a good place to start.
What should I track in a logbook?
Maintaining a logbook about the orphaned kittens does not need to be complicated. The reason for the logbook is to simply keep track of how the kittens are doing so you can identify if there are any potential concerns with their development.
Tracking their weights, milestones, and routines are key, so be sure to record details of when their eyes open, when their teeth begin to erupt, their food intake, and stool consistency.
TIP: Individual kittens must be identified in some way, so consider colored collars or nail polish on a few front toenails.
How often should kittens be weighed, and how much should they weigh?
The birth weight of each kitten should be recorded, and weight should be taken every day or two for the first four weeks of life. Starting in their fifth week, you can switch to weekly weigh-ins. A digital food scale with capacity up to 5 pounds works best for these measurements.
Kittens normally weigh between 80 to 120 grams (g) at birth. They gain about 100g/week during their first six months of life and should average at least 7g per day.
What do orphaned kittens need for proper nutrition?
Water is a critical nutrient for orphaned kittens, just as it is for all other stages of their life. Normal water intake is relatively high for kittens, needing 155-230 milliliters (mL) of fluid per kilogram (kg) of body weight each day.
"Compared to cow's milk, queen's milk contains more than twice as much protein, which helps explain why cow's milk is not ideal for feeding orphaned kittens. "
On average, the total fluid volume fed per day (including milk replacers) should be approximately 180mL/kg of kitten body weight. Queen's milk is highly digestible and very calorie dense. Compared to cow's milk, queen's milk contains more than twice as much protein, which helps explain why cow's milk is not ideal for feeding orphaned kittens.
Commercial kitten milk replacers are recommended as they are superior to cow's milk and home-made mixtures. The milk replacer you choose should meet several key nutritional factors. For every 100g of milk replacer fed, there should be:
- 79 g moisture
- 21g dry matter
- 7.5g crude protein
- 8.5g fat
- 4g lactose
How do I feed orphaned kittens?
Most kittens will suckle on small pet nursing bottles, also known as pet nursers. When bottle fed, kittens will nurse until they are full and then reject the bottle.
Be sure the opening in the nipple restricts the outflow of fluid to one drop at a time in order to avoid a flow rate that is too rapid for the kitten. When the flow rate is too rapid, it can lead to aspiration, pneumonia, and/or death.
When feeding, hold the kitten in a horizontal, head-neutral position. If the kitten is too weak to suckle, your veterinarian can show you alternative feeding methods and assist in tube feeding if needed.
TIP: Handling kittens during feeding contributes to critical socialization.
How much and how often should I feed orphaned kittens?
Orphaned kittens should be fed on a strict schedule, preferably every 2-4 hours. Kittens up to two weeks old can generally consume their daily intake in 4-5 meals per day. Small breed kittens should be limited to 10-15mL per feeding during the first week of life in order to prevent diarrhea.
Commercial milk replacers are labeled to help you calculate the total volume to be fed per day. To calculate the amount for each feeding:
- dilute the total daily volume of milk replacer to a final volume of about 180mL/kg of kitten body weight, and
- divide that total into the desired number of meals per day.
It is recommended that you warm kitten milk replacer to approximately 100°F (38°C) before feeding, but be careful not to overheat it. Cold formula, overly rapid feeding rates, and overfeeding can lead to regurgitation, aspiration, bloating, and diarrhea.
If the orphaned kitten develops diarrhea, reduce the formula volume. It is better to slightly underfeed than to overfeed neonatal orphaned kittens. Kitten milk replacer should be the sole source of nutrition until 3-4 weeks of age at which time the weaning process may begin.
What’s my role in helping a kitten to eliminate?
Kittens cannot eliminate (urinate or defecate) on their own until about 3 weeks of age. They rely on the queen to stimulate their reflex to initiate elimination. Orphaned kittens, on the other hand, rely on their caretakers to stimulate them to eliminate. After feeding, you can stimulate their reflex to eliminate by gently stroking the area between the anus and vulva or penis with a warm, moistened cotton ball or soft cloth. Your veterinarian can teach you this technique.
What are some best practices for proper kitten hygiene?
Orphaned kittens require you to pay strict attention to their hygiene for optimal health and development. Follow these best practices for proper kitten hygiene:
- bottles and nipples should be cleaned and then boiled in water to sterilize them between uses.
- never prepare more milk replacer than can be used within 24 hours and always keep it refrigerated.
- discard formula after 1 hour if left at room temperature.
- once or twice each week, gently wash the kittens with a moist cloth.
By paying attention to the details of feeding and hygiene, you can help orphaned kittens thrive.
Bottle Feeding Kittens | Best Friends Animal Society
This resource provides instructions for caring for bottle-feeding kittens (“bottle babies”) – very young kittens who have been abandoned or orphaned. It includes information on feeding, weaning, medical care, developmental milestones and more.
Table of Contents
1.) Warmth and bedding
4.) Weight and hydration
5.) Elimination and litter box training
6.) A clean kitten is a happy kitten
7.) Medical care
8.) Kittens’ developmental milestones
9.) Loving care
Warmth and bedding
For their safety, bottle babies should be kept in a cat carrier when you are not feeding or caring for them. The kittens must be kept warm. Use a heating pad designed and approved for pets (such as a K&H or Snugglesafe pet bed warmer), wrapped in two or three layers of towels. The top layer of bedding can also be a soft fleece blanket instead of a towel. Make sure the carrier is large enough for the kittens to have an area to move away from the heating pad if they are too warm. Kittens will need the heating pad until they are 3 to 4 weeks old.
Cover the carrier with a towel or blanket and keep it in a warm, draft-free room, securely away from other pets. Check the bedding several times a day for messes. Bedding should be changed at least once a day, more often if the kittens soil the bedding.
A kitten’s ideal body temperature is 100 to 102 degrees. A kitten who feels cold and is unresponsive should be warmed immediately. Never attempt to feed a cold kitten. Place the kitten on an approved heating pad safely wrapped in two or three layers of towels. Turn the kitten side to side every 5 minutes. To stimulate blood flow, you may, ever so gently, massage the kitten with hand-rubbing. If the kitten does not respond within 20 to 30 minutes, contact your medical staff immediately.
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Do not feed cow’s milk to kittens, as it does not have the proper nutrition for them. Cow’s milk will also cause diarrhea, a possibly life-threatening condition for young kittens. Only feed your kittens an approved kitten formula. Kitten Milk Replacement (KMR) formula is ideal. The instructions for mixing KMR are below.
KMR powdered formulaUse 1 part formula to 2 parts water. A part is whatever you are using to measure with. For example, if you’re using a tablespoon for measuring, this would mean 1 tablespoon of powdered KMR and 2 tablespoons of water.
Formula that has been in the refrigerator must be warmed to 98-102 degrees Fahrenheit before feeding. Heat a mug of water and place the bottle in the mug of heated water. Never heat the bottle in the microwave. Before feeding the kittens, always test the temperature of the formula by placing a few drops on your inner wrist to be sure it is not too hot. Always wash your hands well with soap and water before and after feeding the kittens. Bottles and nipples should be cleaned thoroughly before each use.
When bottle nipples are brand new, you may need to cut a hole in the top. Cut an X in the tip of the nipple using small, sharp scissors. Or you can burn a hole in the nipple using a large needle. Heat the needle with a match, then poke it through the nipple tip. It may take a few attempts to make the hole the correct size. Once the hole is made, test it by placing the nipple on a bottle of formula and turning the bottle upside down. The formula should drip slowly out of the hole. If the hole is too big, the kittens will ingest too much formula too fast; if it is too small, they will have to work harder to eat and won’t eat as much as they should.
To prevent the possibility of spreading viruses between the kittens and other pets in your house, keep a “kitten gown” (a robe, sweatshirt, etc. ) in the kittens’ room to wear during feeding and handling of the kittens. You may also wear gloves if you wish, and remember to always wash your hands well before and after feeding your bottle babies.
Because kittens under 4 weeks old aren’t able to pee or poop on their own, you’ll need to help the kittens do that by stimulating them before or after each feeding, or both. Using something soft and absorbent, like tissues or toilet paper, rub each kitten’s genital area in a circular motion. (For more details, see the section on elimination below.) Keep records of their eliminations in case an issue arises. After a kitten has eliminated, weigh him or her before feeding. You should also keep records of the kittens’ weights before and after each feeding.
After recording the kitten’s elimination and weight, it’s time to feed. Never feed a kitten on his back. The kitten should be on his stomach in a position similar to how he would lay next to his mother to nurse. You may try holding the kitten upright swaddled in a warm towel or have the kitten lay on a towel in your lap. Experiment with what position works best for you and the kitten.
Turn the bottle upside down and allow a drop of formula to come out. Place the bottle nipple in the kitten’s mouth and gently move it back and forth, holding the bottle at a 45-degree angle to keep air from getting into the kitten’s stomach. This movement should encourage the kitten to start eating. If at first you don’t succeed, wait a few minutes and try again. Usually the kitten will latch on and begin to suckle. If the bottle appears to be collapsing, gently remove the nipple from the kitten’s mouth and let more air return to the bottle.
Allow the kitten to suckle at his own pace. If a kitten refuses to suckle, try stroking the kitten’s back or gently rubbing her on her forehead. This stroking is similar to momma cat’s cleaning and it may stimulate the kitten to nurse. If this doesn’t work, try rubbing some Karo Syrup on the kitten’s lips. If the kitten still doesn’t want to nurse, contact your medical staff immediately.
Do not attempt to feed a kitten who is chilled because it can have serious health consequences. Try warming the kitten as described above. If you are unable to warm the kitten, contact your medical staff immediately.
A kitten should eat about 8 milliliters (mls) of formula per ounce of body weight per day. The chart below provides guidance on when and how much to feed kittens.Courtesy of the Kitten Lady
Nursing bottles are marked with measurements, so this is another way to know how much you’re feeding the kittens. Please note that some bottles use ml for measurement, some use cubic centimeters (cc). They are the same: 1 cc = 1 ml.
Using a kitchen or small postal scale, weigh the kittens daily to calculate the amount of formula they need. Keep a log listing daily weights and amount of formula consumed at each feeding.
If you are feeding multiple kittens, feed the first kitten until he stops nursing, then begin feeding the next kitten, and so on. Once you have fed all the kittens, feed the first kitten again and repeat with all the kittens. Usually one to three nursing turns will suffice. When a kitten stops nursing, he/she has had enough. A well-fed kitten’s belly should be round, but not hard and distended. Smaller or weaker kittens may eat less per feeding and will need to be fed more often.
Kittens need to be burped, just like human babies. Lay the kitten on his stomach, on your shoulder or in your lap, and very gently pat his back until you hear a little burp. You may need to burp a couple times per feeding.
Young kittens may suckle on each other. If you notice a kitten doing that, you should separate the kittens because this can lead to many medical issues.
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Weaning may begin around 4 weeks of age. Start by offering the kittens formula on a spoon. Once they are lapping off the spoon, try putting some formula in a saucer. As they master lapping up the formula out of the saucer, you can gradually add a small amount of canned food to the formula in the saucer, making a gruel. Increase the amount of canned food slowly, adding more food and less formula. Some kittens catch on right away, others may take a few days. To be sure the kittens are getting enough food, you may need to continue bottle feeding them a few times a day, until they are eating well on their own. Be sure to feed them what they need to be full, but don’t overfeed them.
Never force a kitten to wean. Some kittens continue to enjoy their bottle past 4 weeks. This is fine as long as you keep a close eye on them and ensure that they’re not chewing on the nipple. Now that they have teeth, they could ingest part of the nipple.
Monitor the kittens’ stools to make sure they are tolerating and digesting the gruel mix well. If the kittens have loose stools, reduce the amount of canned food and increase the formula until their systems have adjusted. As the kittens adjust to the gruel mix and you are adding more canned food to their diet, you can also add more water to the formula mix. If you are using KMR formula, add an extra measure of water when preparing the formula. Instead of 1 part formula to 2 parts water, mix 1 part formula to 3 or 4 parts water.
As the kittens eat more food and less formula, you will need to have a bowl of fresh water available to them at all times to keep them well hydrated. At this time, you may also add dry food to their diet. Add some of the watered-down formula mix to the dry food to entice the kittens to eat it. Gradually reduce the formula and let them eat the food dry. Again, keep watch on the kittens’ stools to make sure they are tolerating the food well. If diarrhea or constipation persists with the change in diet, contact your medical staff. (Spoiler alert: There’s always some diarrhea when kittens wean.)
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Weight and hydration
Weigh your kittens before and after each feeding using a kitchen or postal scale. Kittens should gain about ½ ounce every day or 3 to 4 ounces per week. By 8 weeks, most kittens weigh about 2 pounds. Enter their daily weights in the logbook. If the kittens are not gaining weight or are losing weight, contact your medical staff right away.
A well-fed kitten should be properly hydrated. To test a kitten’s hydration, pull up on the skin at the scruff of the neck. The skin should bounce back easily. If it doesn’t bounce back, or goes back down slowly, the kitten may be dehydrated. If the kitten appears dehydrated, contact your medical staff.
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Elimination and litter box training
As mentioned above, young kittens cannot eliminate on their own. A momma cat will clean her kittens, stimulating them to urinate and have a bowel movement. As their human caregiver, you now have the honor of performing this duty. Before and/or after each feeding, use a tissue or soft cloth to gently rub and clean the kitten’s lower belly, genital and anal area. The kitten should begin eliminating within a minute.
Kittens should urinate after each feeding and have a bowel movement one to four times a day. Do not continue to rub the kitten for more than a minute or so, since this could irritate her delicate skin. Gently wash the kitten after she is done eliminating using a clean, damp, soft cloth. Record the kittens’ elimination type and frequency in the logbook.
When they are between 3 and 4 weeks of age, kittens can be introduced to the litter box. Use a small cardboard box or plastic litter box with just enough clay litter to cover the bottom. Don’t use clumping litter. Adding a used tissue from when you helped them urinate to the box will help them get the idea of what to do next. Put the kittens in the box, allowing them to get the feel for the litter. Natural instinct will generally prevail and the kittens will begin investigating, scratching, and, within a few days, using the box.
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A clean kitten is a happy kitten
After feeding, clean any formula, urine, feces or other messes off the kitten using a clean, soft, warm, damp cloth. This action simulates how the momma cat would clean the kittens. If more cleaning is required, you may use a wetter washcloth dipped in warm water to loosen up caked-on messes in the kitten’s fur. Do not use soap or pet shampoo directly on the kitten. If you must use a shampoo to clean the kitten, add one or two drops of shampoo to a cup of warm water, then use the cloth dipped in this mixture to clean the kitten. Rinse the cleaned area with another cloth dipped in clear, warm water. Gently dry the kitten with a soft towel or hair dryer set on low and not held too closely. Do not allow the kitten to become chilled. Once the kitten is clean and dry, place her back in the carrier on the covered heating pad, which should be covered in clean layers of bedding.
Kittens’ ears should be clean and dirt-free. If the ears are dirty, gently clean the area with a Q-tip; you may need to dampen it in warm water. Do not use ear-cleaning solution because it could be harmful to the kitten. Only clean the outer area of the inside ear, just the part that you can see; do not push the Q-tip down into the ear. If the ears are extremely dirty or you see signs of ear mites (specks that look like coffee grounds), contact your medical staff about treatment options.
Kittens may have some discharge in or around their eyes. To cleanse the area, gently wipe around the eye with a warm, damp, soft cloth. If the discharge continues, is cloudy, or the eyes are gooped shut, clean the eyes as directed above, then contact your medical staff for treatment options.
All kitten bedding should be washed separately from other household laundry using detergent and ¾ cup of bleach per load. To clean carriers and litter boxes used for the kittens, use a mixture of ¼ cup of bleach per gallon of water. You may add a tablespoon of laundry soap to the wash water. Do not use any cleaning agents that contain ammonia or are not approved to mix with bleach, since it could cause hazardous fumes. Be sure the carrier and/or litter boxes are completely dry and free of bleach fumes before putting them back with the kittens.
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A veterinarian should be consulted for kittens showing any of the following symptoms.
Do not medicate kittens without consulting a vet first.
- Straining to urinate, or not urinating
- Upper respiratory symptoms: goopy/watery eyes, runny nose, constant sneezing, coughing, wheezing or labored breathing
- Not eating
- Change in attitude or behavior
- Hair loss
- Anything you are worried or concerned about
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Kittens’ developmental milestones
Kittens weigh about 2 to 4 ounces at birth. They are blind, deaf and totally dependent on the mother cat for survival. Some developmental milestones:
- At 7 to 10 days, their eyes start to open. Kittens’ eyes are fully open by 20 days. Their eyes stay blue until they are 6 to 7 weeks old.
- They will begin to play with each other at 3 to 4 weeks.
- By 3 to 4 weeks, solid food can be introduced, their first juvenile teeth are cut, and litter box training begins.
- At 6 weeks, kittens are well-coordinated, running and climbing and full of mischief.
- Kittens are ready for their first vaccinations at 4 weeks and spay/neuter surgery at 6 weeks.
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Physical and emotional contact with you is extremely important for the growing, developing kitten. Early cuddling and gentle petting of kittens helps them to bond well with humans, allowing them to grow up feeling safe and secure with their human family. Playing with the kittens with a variety of toys will stimulate their minds and help them develop good motor skills.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The position of the kitten is very important. Never feed it upside down in the same way as a human baby and be sure to check that 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to feed a kitten?
You have got a fluffy baby, he is undoubtedly insanely cute. But the question arises, what to feed the kitten and how often? What should be checked on food labels? In this article, we will answer these and other questions about feeding kittens.
Correct understanding of the basics of feeding kittens
Water: Your kitten should have constant access to clean drinking water. Wash the bowl and fill it with water once or twice a day, and add water as it gets low. Your kitten will need more water if you plan to feed him commercial dry food. Important! Do not give your kitten cow's milk because it is difficult to digest and can lead to diarrhea.
Meat in the diet: your kitten will not be able to be a vegetarian. By nature, cats are meat eaters, they need it to survive.
Kitten Specialty Foods: Because kittens have different nutritional requirements than adult cats, it is not recommended to feed your kitten with adult cat foods. Choose special food for him.
No human food: The food we eat usually does not contain the nutrients that cats need. And some food for people is completely dangerous for them.
Be sure to place the bowls that the kitten eats from and the toilet in different places, no one likes to do both in one place.
Optimal nutrition for a kitten: what to look for on a food label
Try to find a quality kitten food that is well balanced and nutritious. But what are the nutritional needs of a kitten? All cats need a diet high in animal protein, amino acids such as taurine and arginine, fats and certain fatty acids (such as arachidonic acid), and vitamins. But kittens have a higher need for protein, amino acids, minerals, as well as some vitamins. Therefore, kitten food must have the right balance of nutrients.
When you read the label on a food package for adult cats or kittens, keep in mind that all the ingredients in the food are listed in percentage order, from highest to lowest. This means that what is most in the feed is listed at the beginning of the list of ingredients, and then they are arranged in descending order. Here are a few nuances to pay attention to.
Protein source. An animal protein source must be listed first. Look for a specific type of meat, such as chicken, salmon, lamb, rather than general protein in the diet.
Additional source of taurine. Red meat and poultry are good sources of taurine. But the feed may also contain liver, for example, chicken liver or chicken heart - they are rich in taurine.
Fat source. Look for a specific fat source in your formula, such as chicken fat, sunflower oil, or other oils.
Carbohydrates (grain component). In principle, kittens do not need grains such as corn or wheat, and for some they can even cause digestive problems. However, grain is often used in the production of cat food, as a kind of filler, especially in the composition of dry food. Knowing this, you can choose a diet that is low in grain or purchase a diet that contains no grain at all.
How often and how much should a kitten be fed?
Each kitten is unique, so the portion of food will depend on factors such as age and activity.
However, as a general rule, small kittens (3-6 months old) are recommended to be fed 3-4 times a day, and when they grow up to the age of six months, you can switch to feeding 2 times a day.
For the amount of food for a kitten, always refer to the daily allowance indicated on the package of food. Let this be your starting point and then you just need to divide the recommended daily allowance by the number of feedings per day. Remember that if, in addition to food, you treat the kitten, for example, with treats, then you should slightly reduce the amount of food so that the total caloric content of the food eaten by the kitten per day does not exceed the norm required for it. If suddenly the kitten has some health problems, then in this case you do not need to manually prepare dietary food for him, because special dietary food can be purchased at pet stores.
When the food is purchased, it remains only to determine the time of feeding the kitten. Most likely, it will depend on your schedule, try to stick to it.
Natural and artificial food preservatives
Some kitten foods contain natural preservatives such as vitamin E or ascorbic acid, and some contain artificial preservatives. In fact, there is nothing wrong with either the first or the second case. Artificial preservatives have been used in pet food for over 30 years.
Foods containing natural preservatives may have a shorter shelf life and may also cost slightly more.
Dry food or canned food?
Both have advantages. So, canned food contains about 80% moisture, which adds water to the kitten's diet, which is good. And dry food is more convenient to feed, because it can be left in the bowl for a longer period.