Guide to Feeding Newborn Kittens

Feeding newborn kittens isn't hard, but it is time-consuming. Read more to find out how you can feed your newborn kittens just like their mother would.

You'll Need Some Equipment for Feeding Your Newborn Kittens

Newborn kittens may need surrogate care for a number of reasons. Their mother may have died, leaving them orphaned. Or, they may have an excellent mother, but she might have too many kittens to care for at one time; if that's the case, you'll need to help the mother by feeding some of the kittens for her. Sometimes, mother cats simply abandon their newborn kittens for no reason. 

Feeding newborn kittens requires a kitten-sized feeding bottle, which is much like a baby bottle, but smaller and with a tiny nipple that can fit inside a newborn kitten's mouth. You'll also need some kitten formula. You can buy both of these things at any pet supply outlet. 

You'll need to feed your newborn kittens 9 to 12 times a day, about every two hours, 24 hours a day. Newborn kittens will need to eat about 1.1 ounces of formula per day. Feeding a newborn kitten takes ten to twenty minutes. 

Get Your Supplies Ready Before Feeding Your Kittens

Before feeding your newborn kittens, you'll need to sterilize the bottles and nipples or eyedroppers you're using. Submerge them in boiling water for at least ten minutes. Gather a towel, a washcloth and a bottle of warm water near your feeding station.

Fill up the sterilized bottle with kitten formula. Place the bottle into a bowl of very hot water to warm it to the right temperature—between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Test the temperature, and the nipple, by squeezing out a bit of the formula onto your inner wrist.

Feed Your Newborn Kittens

To feed your newborn kittens:

  1. Sit in a chair with a towel on your lap.
  2. Place the kitten belly-down on your lap.
  3. Stroke the kitten vigorously, but gently, to warm him
  4. Sold the towel over him to keep him warm. Kittens should always be warm during feeding.
  5. Put the nipple in your newborn kitten's mouth. Don't lift his head or force him in any way. He should start feeding immediately.

If you are feeding by eyedropper, squeeze tiny drops of formula onto your kitten's tongue, being careful not to choke him.

If your newborn kitten doesn't start feeding immediately, check to make sure the nipple isn't clogged. Formula should drip from the nipple when the bottle is turned upside down and slightly squeezed. If the nipple is working, then your kitten's nursing instincts may not have taken hold yet. Gently stroking his head and back should help him get the idea.

Once your newborn kitten is done feeding, he may need to be burped. Pat him very gently on the shoulders. If he doesn't burp, it's okay.

Newborn kittens need their bowels and bladder stimulated after feeding, because the digestive tract doesn't begin functioning until they are a few weeks old. Mother cats do this by licking their kittens' bellies. You can do it by stroking your kitten's belly gently with a paper towel or washcloth. Don't worry if this doesn't cause him to relieve himself right away; sometimes it takes a few feedings.