The Dos and Dont's of Bottle Feeding Kittens

It is always best to have a mother cat feeding kittens, but complications may arise requiring human intervention. If you take in kittens that are too young for dry cat food, bottle-feeding with a kitten formula is always best.

There are many reasons a kitten might require bottle-feeding. The mother cat may have died. She may have abandoned her babies. She may simply have rejected kittens from her litter.

If you adopt or purchase a kitten, make sure the kitten is at least eight weeks of age before removing him from his mother. A troublesome kitten behavior occurs with kittens taking from their mother too early. They knead and suck on t-shirts, sheets and blankets for comfort. Ingesting fabric softeners and perfumes is harmful to cats.

Supplies Necessary for Bottle-feeding Kittens

Visit your local pet food for kitten milk replacement formula (KMR). You will also want to purchase kitten feeding bottles and three-millimeter syringes. Very young kittens generally eat best from a syringe.

Emergency Kitten Formula

Do not feed your kitten milk from a cow. It causes diarrhea and upsets the stomach. If your vet or pet store is closed and a kitten needs feeding urgently, use this mixture:

  • 1 ounce condensed milk
  • 1 ounce water
  • 1 ounce plain yogurt
  • 1 egg yolk

Microwave this mixture for a minute and allow it to cool to the proper temperature before feeding kittens. Only use this emergency formula until you have the kitten formula powder.

Preparing the Kitten Formula

Boil water and then store it in a glass jar in your refrigerator. Never mix KMR with tap water. Chemicals and bacteria found in normal tap water are harmful.

Soak all bottles and syringes in boiled water to sterilize them. Kittens are susceptible to germs.

Mix up the formula right before using it for optimal nutrients.

Never microwave the formula. It depletes some nutrients and can cause hot spots that burn a kitten's mouth. Instead, when feeding kittens, soak a bottle in a bowl of hot water. After a minute, test the temperature of the formula on the inside of your wrist. It should feel warm, but not hot.

Tips for Feeding Kittens KMR

Kittens do not require a lot of formula. If they overeat, there is a risk that some formula goes down the wrong pipe and enters the lungs. Feeding kittens every two hours is necessary, so give them no more than two ounces to start and increase it as they grow in size.

Hold the kitten in your hand or on your chest and keep it warm. When finished, place the kitten with its siblings in a box that uses a covered heating pad for additional warmth.

Switching to Solid Foods

By the time kittens are 4 weeks old, kittens need bottle-feeding about two or three times a day if you supplement their diet with canned food.

Offer kittens canned food mixed with some KMR during their fourth week of life to get them started on solid foods. You can add some high-quality cat food kibbles, as well. Many kittens like the crunchy texture and will gladly eat it as treats.

Prescription diet food is generally unnecessary for kittens. Choose a dry cat food rich in protein and no grains. Natural Balance foods provide quality proteins without fillers. Kitten foods you find at the grocery store are full of fillers that cause obesity and a variety of cancers in adult cats.

Stimulating the Bowels

After feeding kittens, mother cats bathe their kittens to stimulate their bowels. Place the kitten on a towel or in a litter box and use a warm washcloth to wipe their bottom. This helpful step is the best way to promote litter box.