Here at Beach City Kitties, we get a lot of emails asking for help with stray kittens, especially bottle babies.
So I thought I’d put together a bottle feeding tutorial, so you all can learn how to bottle feed kittens too.
Bottle feeding kittens is not hard once you learn how, and is very rewarding!
I just finished weaning my most recent bottle baby Pippy who was found alone in a box on the Venice Boardwalk at the tender age of two weeks. 🙁
With a little love and kitten formula, this skinny little stray, has turned into a little fat bellied purr machine. 🙂
How to Bottle Feed Kittens
First off, If you find a kitten or kittens, make absolutely sure that they really are any orphans, and the mom hasn’t just temporarily left them.
It’s best to leave them where they are and observe them for a day to make sure of this.
Though bottle babies can grow up purrfectly healthy and happy, having their mama nurse them is always the best option.
Once you have determined that the babies do indeed need you to step in and become their surrogate mama, it’s time to act fast.
Young kittens need to eat often, and even a day without eating can be very detrimental.
Supplies Needed: Kitten Formula, Bottle, Towel.
You can buy kitten formula at Petco or Unleashed.
I prefer the KMR (kitten milk replacer) the powdered version.
Gently stir or shake 1 part powdered KMR into 2 parts warm water (a part is a teaspoon, tablespoon or cup).
Do not mix more KMR than can be consumed in 24 hours
How to Bottle Feed
Once you have the KMR mixed and in bottle, wrap the kitten up in a towel or your hand, and hold him/her close.
The kitten should be upright or on stomach, not on back like a human baby.
Cut a small hole if the nipple, insert into his/her mouth and hopefully he/she will latch on. It may take a little time, be patient.
You can squeeze the bottle a little to squirt the formula in the kittens mouth to get it started.
If you have trouble getting the baby to latch on, you can also use a syringe to squirt the formula in his/her mouth.
How Much to Feed
Newborn kittens during their first week need to consume about 32 cc of formula per day. That is based on an average kitten weighing 120 grams. Normal kittens range in weight at birth from 85 to 120 grams, so the amount of formula they should drink is going to vary.
That amount should be spread out into about ten feedings, spaced about every 2 and-a-half hours round the clock. If the kitten is weak or stressed, it is even more important to give it more frequent feeding throughout the day and night.
During their second week, an average kitten consumes about 55 cc per day of formula. You can already cut back on the number of feedings if the kitten is steadily gaining weight.
By week three, the kitten should be consuming about 80 cc of formula per day; by four weeks 100 cc/day, and by 5 weeks about 125cc/day. By four weeks, the amount of formula the kitten consumes per feeding should have risen so that you get by with 5-7 feedings per day.
Kittens that are hungry and need feeding will cry continuously, move their heads from side to side and suckle on each other or on objects in the nest box.
Burping The Kitten
After each feeding hold the kitten upright with its tummy against your shoulder and pat it gently until it burps, releasing trapped air. If the kitten should bloat or become colicky add a few drops of infant anti colic drops (simethicone, Equate Infants’ Gas Relief, WalMart Stores Inc.) to the formula and experiment with a new nipple, another feeding technique or different brand of formula.
Normal Weight Gain
Birth weights of kittens range from 85 to 120 grams. Their weight should double in their first 1 to 2 weeks. Kittens average about ten grams of additional body weight per day. Although this is a good average, they tend to grow in spurts. Seek a veterinarian’s advice if the kitten does not double its weight in 8 to 12 days.
Helping The Kitten Eliminate
When kittens are young, they don’t know how to poo or pee on their own so you have to help. Sounds a little gross, I know, but it’s not too hard. After every feeding, just gently massage/rub the anus and urinary orifice with a warm washcloth until they pee & poo.
(Don’t worry if they don’t go every time)
By the time the kitten is three weeks old it should be able go without your help, and usually will start using the litterbox right away
When you notice the kitten/ grabbing the bottle on it’s own or chewing on the nipple, you will know it’s time to wean.
You can begin to offer your kitten sold foods at three and a half weeks old. By four and a half weeks, the kitten should be weaned. (Can vary.)
Purchase some canned cat food in chicken and beef flavors and smear a bit on the cat’s pallet.
This is the same time you should begin to offer the kitten formula in a bowl. (KMR step 2) (Also water.)
Although many kittens will eat as early as four weeks, some make take an additional two or three weeks before they express interest in solid food. Slowly substitute moistened kitten chow for baby foods or canned cat food.
By the time the kitten is 10 weeks old, you can start introducing dry food if you like.
How to Bottle Feed Kittens Tutorial Video
Also worth noting, kittens should be kept warm at all times.
I usually keep them in a carrier or box with blankets. You can also use a heating pad to keep them warm. 🙂
Hopefully now that you guys have this handy dandy bottle feeding guide, you will give it a shot!
We are always looking for fosters and bottle mamas at Beach City Kitties. Email us at BeachCityKitties@gmail.com and please post you questions & comments below.
And if anyone’s looking for a tiny tabby, Pippy will be available soon!
xoxo, Katelyn Michele