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How To Bottle Feed Kittens
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Written by Elizabeth Bunich   

How To Bottle Feed Kittens


You may need to bottle feed kittens if you find a litter of abandoned or orphaned kittens, or if you have a kitten that does not seem to be thriving. Sometimes a new mother cat will also be reluctant to nurse her kittens or won’t seem interested in nursing them long enough for them to get enough milk. When this happens you may need to try bottle feeding your kittens. Here are some basic tips for bottle feeding a kitten.


Step 1: Locate kitten milk replacer such as KMR or Just Born brands. Don’t use cow’s milk which can cause fatal diarrhea in kittens. There are many recipes available on the internet for making your own emergency kitten formula. These should only be used in an emergency and only until you can get to a store for proper milk replacer. Warm the formula by setting the bottle in warm water.

Step 2: Make sure the kitten nurser or medicine dropper is clean and fill it with warmed formula. If you are using a nurser, cut the tip off so that the liquid comes out slowly; it should drip rather than flow.

Step 3: Make sure the kittens are warm before attempting to bottle feed them. Warm them up gradually by holding them on your lap, preferably in a warm room.

Step 4: Resist the urge to nurse the kitten on its back like a human baby. Place a towel on your lap and place the kitten on its stomach over the towel (bottle feeding a kitten can get messy). Place the nurser or medicine dropper at the kitten’s mouth. It may take a few tries before the kitten gets the hang of it. Be careful not the squeeze the bottle. You do not want the milk to get in the kitten’s lungs.

Step 5: Kittens will stop nursing when they have had enough. Newborn kittens have very small stomachs and will drink far less than an ounce at each feeding. When it is done, burp it gently by patting it on the back.

Step 6: Take a rough cloth and simulate grooming by stroking the kitten starting at the face and moving down to its rear. Keep this up until the kitten “goes potty”. You will need to do this to stimulate the kitten’s system until it starts to go by itself. If the kitten gets diarrhea, water down the formula slightly.

Step 7: Healthy kittens will cry to be fed, will nurse vigorously, and will cling to or claw at the bottle. If the kittens are lethargic, reluctant to nurse, or don’t seem to be gaining weight, they may need to be tube fed. These symptoms may also indicate other health problems. Take the kittens to a veterinarian or experienced cat rescuer immediately.


Tips: Kittens need to be fed about every four hours. Buy extra nurser nipples, kittens will wear them out quickly. If the mother cat is present, keep trying to get the kittens nursing from her.

Warnings: never use a recipe with egg whites or cows milk. Never feed a chilled kitten. Weight loss, lack of appetite and worsening diarrhea are signs of trouble. Don’t wait around to see if it gets better; weak kittens deteriorate rapidly. Seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

Comments (2)add comment

carmen357 said:

Great tips it is very tough to bottle feed kittens that takes me back when I was a child that I use to bottle feed my kittens!
December 04, 2010
Votes: +0

jswana said:

I love cats and kittens are the prettiest, sweetest things but my cat was a couple of years old when I got her. Thanks for sharing.
January 09, 2011
Votes: +0

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