How to feed a newborn kitten? – Taking care of a newborn furry kitten can be a great joy, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility at the same time and requires a lot of knowledge. A newborn kitten can take up to anywhere between 3-4 months of age to get weaned with her mother and learn basic skills such as eating.
The newborn kittens are born blind. They also need to be kept warm at all times, and therefore they curl up with each other and the mother cat. If you are bringing up with newborn kitten all by yourself without the mother cat, then make sure to prepare a DIY bed using fleece blankets to keep the kitten warm.
Another vital responsibility while bringing up a kitten is to give litter-box training to it. It is also essential to make sure that you stimulate her bowel and urine movement. You can do so by wiping a warm cloth or cotton ball on the kitten’s urogenital. You also have to teach an orphan kitten to use the litterbox from a very young age. Put it in the box and allow it to get familiarised with the package.
Other responsibilities of bringing up a newborn kitten are – Grooming it, i.e., cutting its nails regularly, bathing it on a regular basis. You also need to put your kitten in a social circle so that she doesn’t feel lonely or lack a partner.
But apart from these responsibilities, one question that concerns pet parents the most is – how to feed a newborn kitten? And well, there may be many ways to feed a cat, but with a newborn, you need to be very careful.
Steps/ways on How to Feed a Newborn Kitten?
#1 Preparations/ strategies to be made before feeding
Step 1: Try Finding a Feline Nursing Mother
Try finding with the help of local veterinarians and animal shelters who might feed the kitten because mother’s milk is the best for most of the baby mammals. Even though it is difficult to find a nursing cat, before going for formulas, you should try it for sure.
However, if you can find a nursing cat, you need to be aware that she might not accept the kitten. So, make sure while the cat is feeding the kitten, you are monitoring the cat because there are chances she might try to kill the kitten.
To avoid any such violence, you can disguise the smell of other kittens and your kitten, too, so that the nursing cat is not able to distinguish between the scent of her kittens and your kitten. (Cats have a powerful sense of smell). This increases the chances of the nursing cat accepting the kitten.
Step 2: Get Formulas
If you cannot get the kitten a nursing cat, then the next best option is to buy Kitten Milk Replacement formula. Milk is the only thing that a newborn kitten can consume and digest, and more specifically, the milk from the mother catsuits the kitten the best.
But you cannot give any type of milk to a newborn. Milk types like cow milk, goat’s milk, or any such milk bought from a convenience store can cause indigestion, poor growth, nutritional deficiencies, and other such problems to the kitten. However, before purchasing the Kitten Replacement formula, consult your veterinarian and buy the KMR recommended by him/her.
Kitten Milk Replacement formula (KMR) is the best alternative to the mother cat’s milk. KMR comes in a can or a tub. It is a dry powder milk formula. Before making the formula, carefully read the directions to make it given at the back or side of the packaging.
Please be aware of the fact that “cat milk” sold in cartons is not the actual KMR. They are lactose-removed cow’s milk and can deteriorate the kitten’s health. This milk is suitable only for adult cats.
Step 3: Have a backup plan
You need to have a backup plan ready for specific situations. For example- if you have placed an order for KMR and it does not arrive on the due, whereas you are already out of stock of KMR. And you are worried about how to feed your newborn kitten.
Well, don’t you worry. We have just the right solution for you. If you don’t have the replacement milk with you, then use some boiled water for the moment to feed the kitten. If the kitten is very hungry, then add one teaspoon of glucose powder to the boiled water.
If you are confused about what glucose powder to use, you can consult your veterinarian. However, if you are running out of glucose, too, do not worry. We have another alternative ready for you.
The alternative to the situation mentioned above is – Cook some white rice in water and then strain off the water. You can feed this water to the cat. This will satisfy the kitten’s hunger and prevent the kitten from dehydrating and is a better alternative than giving cow milk to the kitten, which will make her sick.
Step 4: Plan a Schedule
Younger kittens have more metabolism than adult cats, and thus the younger kittens are needed to be fed more frequently. Because of this primary reason, you need to assure that someone is with the kitten at all times to provide it at regular time intervals.
This schedule must be maintained until the kitten is old enough and ready to switch over to solid food. For up to two weeks, the newborn kitten needs to be fed milk or KMR at regular intervals before it is ready to consume solid foods.
Talking about solid foods, you need to know that an orphan kitten can wean early. This means that it is easier to switch the kitten from milk to solids at an early stage, whereas this is not the case for a kitten weaning from her mother. When the kitten starts biting the nipple of the bottle, know that it is ready to consume solid foods.
You can switch the kitten to solids in the following method –
Place a dish with solids in it in front of the cat. In the beginning, she might be reluctant towards it, so add some milk in the dish, so that cat is attracted to the dish because of the smell of the milk. Eventually, reduce the milk ratio and increase the solid food ratio.
Most of the kittens are ready to handle solid foods by seven weeks of age.
Here is a table providing details of how many meals need to be fed to a kitten at what age:
|Age||Meals per day|
|Six to ten weeks||6-8 meals|
|Ten weeks to seven months||Four meals|
|Up to ten months||Three meals|
After becoming an adult, the cat consumes two meals per day.
#2 Feeding the kitten
Step 5: Get the suitable feeding device
Before feeding your kitten, you need to have the right equipment. Catac bottle and teat set is an example of feeding devices designed specifically for cats.
The feeding device is tiny in size and has an opening at the top where you can place your thumb and control the flow of the milk. The teat is a long and narrow device that will easily fit inside the kitten’s mouth.
In case you don’t have a Catac bottle and teat set, the alternative to it is a syringe. With the help of a syringe, you can drip the milk inside the kitten’s mouth. However, this method is not the best alternative since the kitten needs to suck the milk to have proper digestion, so try getting the feeder as soon as possible.
Sterilise the feeding device regularly. To sterilise, just washing the device with cold or warm water isn’t sufficient. Put the feeder in a steam steriliser.
Step 6: Make the Milk
Both liquid and powder formula is available in the market. Before buying a procedure, consult your local veterinarian and believe what he/she recommends to you.
If you are using a liquid formula, make sure to heat the milk before pouring it into the feeding device. If you are using powder formula, prepare the formula according to the directions given in the packaging. Make sure the formula is not too concentrated or too dilute, as it will make the kitten’s stomach upset.
Do’s and Don’t of the formula –
- Do not make the milk and store it in the container, as this will reduce the number of nutritional components that the kitten’s body requires.
- Prepare fresh formula and then feed the kitten.
- Do not warm the formula in an oven as the radiation from the microwave will reduce the nutritional value of the milk.
- Do not keep the formula in the fridge or freezer.
- Make sure that before the formula to the kitten, the formula is at room temperature.
Step 7: Check the Kitten’s temperature
Before feeding the kitten check the kitten’s body temperature. It is necessary to make sure that the kitten’s body temperature is warm. This ensures better digestion of the milk.
If the body temperature of the kitten is cool, then the digestion will be sluggish and the milk might ferment in its stomach. The ideal body temperature of the kitten should be between 96–100 °F (35.6–37.8 °C) while feeding the milk. Try to keep the kitten warm by putting a heating pad under its bed or wrapping it in a warm blanket.
Step 8: Feeding
While feeding the cat, you need to make sure that the cat is in the same position as it would have been while its mother would have provided her. This is the most crucial part of feeding the kitten. The position of the kitten while feeding is very important. You should never feed the kitten on its back.
The cat should be rested on its stomach, feet down, and head up. Make sure that while feeding the cat, its body temperature is warm too. You can keep a blanket on your lap while feeding the cat.
If you are feeding the cat using the teat, wiggle the teat in the kitten’s mouth and let it suck the milk from the teat. If you are feeding her using the syringe, slightly press the plunger and allow the milk drops to drop in the kitten’s mouth. Please make sure that you drop the milk at time intervals so that the overflow of milk does not choke the kitten. This can be fatal for the kitten.
It is also to keep in mind the amount of KMR you are feeding the kitten. Here is a table showing the quantity of KMR that should be given according to its age-
|Age||Quantity||How many times|
|One to three days||2.5ml||Every 2 hours|
|Four to seven days||5ml||10-12 times per day|
|Six to ten days||5 to 7.5ml||10 times per day|
|11 to 14 days||10 to 12.5ml||Every 3 hours|
|15 to 21 days||10 ml||8 times per day|
|21 days and beyond||7.5 to 25 ml||3-4 times per day|
After 21 days you should start switching the kitten over to solid foods.
While feeding the kitten it is important to remember that you don’t overfeed the kitten. To keep check of this, once you get a feeling that the kitten has enough milk, try pressing the tummy of the kitten. If you feel that it is tight, be known that its tummy is full, and do not feed it more.
If you think that it has not taken enough of the milk, then try to press the lungs softly and give her more. Even after that if she doesn’t take more, then try again after an hour or so and not be very late.
Do not panic if things don’t go well. Initially, it is going to take time for the kitten to get accustomed to the teat or the syringe. You have to be relaxed and patient while feeding a newborn kitten.
After you are done feeding the kitten, try stimulating the burps by holding the kitten against your body and rubbing its tummy softly. Do not panic if it passes stools or winds while you rub her tummy. It is quite common and shows that the food has been digested.
Make sure to wipe the genitals of the kitten after feeding to stimulate the excretion process. Usually, a mother licks the genitals of her kitten after feeding them to do so, but since you are the pet parents you have to step in to do so. This process is very important because if the kitten doesn’t defecate it can become very ill.
Continue this feeding schedule until the kitten starts to take solids at a greater amount. After feeding the kitten, put it on its bed with warm blankets so that the kitten can rest. Not only after feeding but ensure at all times that the kitten is warm.
Ensure regular body and health check-ups of your kitten with your local veterinarian. Give the kitten the diet as per the recommendations of your vet. It is also ver important to note that you trim and shape the nails of the kitten, so that when you feed it, it does not scratch you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1 How many times do you need to feed a new kitten?
A newborn kitten needs to be fed at least 3 times a day.
Q2 When to stop stimulating a kitten?
You can stop stimulating the kitten after its more than 3 weeks old
Q3 Do kittens sleep at night?
There is no full-proof answer to this. However, it is common for kittens to stay up throughout the night.
Q4 Can you feed a kitten baby formula?
Never feed a newborn kitten baby formula, since it consists of cow’s milk which is not suitable for the kitten
Q5 Should a kitten be allowed to sleep with pet parents?
Never allow a kitten to sleep with you or your children, since they carry some germs which might give you diseases.
Taking care of a newborn kitten can come with a lot of responsibilities, but you have to be calm and patient while taking care of it. Somedays you might feel like nothing is going according to what your vet recommended, but do not panic. Go to the vet and do a regular check-up of the kitten. Even though it comes with so many responsibilities, the joy of taking care of a little furry newborn kitten is more than what words can explain.