Feline Rescue

Kitten Development & Care

How to Safely Bottle Feed a Kitten

How to Safely Bottle Feed a Kitten


Kitten season is here It’s the time of year where kittens are entering shelters in huge numbers Often times without a mother. Most of the time this is because well-meaning people find kittens outside and assume that they’ve been abandoned When really the mother is usually right down the block. So if you find a kitten outside And they don’t appear to be in immediate danger Please wait at least two to three hours to see if the mother does return Nobody’s better at taking care of a little kitten than their own mama, but if you found your kitten And you’re sure that she’s an orphan, she’s going to need special care and that includes bottle feeding. Whether you found kitten outside, or signed up to foster for your local shelter, here are my top tips for safely bottle-feeding kittens. Are you hungry? Tip number one; “Get the right supplies” Motherless neonatal kittens have sensitive systems that require a special kitten formula Not just any dairy product you have in the fridge. It’s extremely dangerous to feed a kitten the wrong thing So please NEVER feed a kitten something she won’t be able to digest Never feed a kitten cow’s milk, condensed milk, soy milk, or other dairy alternatives Human Baby Formula or even cat milk Cat milk is a product that’s sold at stores as a supplemental treat for adult cats But it’s not kitten formula Instead you want to pick up something that says kitten formula such as one of these products Kitten formula is specially formulated to provide a proper balance of vitamins, minerals, Probiotics and a caloric pattern that mimics the content of a mother cats milk. I have links to some of the products that I like at kittenlady.org/supplies While picking up your kitten formula you’ll also want to pick up a kitten bottle and perhaps an extra set of nipples Most nipples will not come pre-cut, meaning you’ll have to cut a hole in them yourself There are a lot of different ways that people do this, including cutting an X or cutting a V into the nipple. My preferred method is to cut the nipple on an angle so that just a small hole is visible Cutting a hole properly it’s important because it will determine the flow of the formula while the kitten is nursing To ensure proper flow, test the hole by turning the bottle upside down The formula should slowly drip out, one drop at a time if the hole is the correct size If you turn it upside down and nothing flows out You need to enlarge the hole. If you turn it upside down, and it flows too quickly Then you’ll have to try again with a new nipple. Because there’s so much room for human error with traditional nipples I like to recommend a product called a “miracle nipple” A miracle nipple is a specialty product you can buy online It’s a hard rubber nipple with a hole already cut into it, and it can attach to a syringe for smaller kittens Or get popped onto a bottle lid, like this These are great because the hole is already cut, so it offers a steady flow and they come in a few different sizes for different ages of kittens. I have links to these on my website at kittenlady.org/supplies Ok, so once you have your supplies, it’s time for tip number 2 “Preparing the bottle properly” In order to prepare the bottle properly you want to make sure that you’re making your formula fresh, clump free and comfortably warm You want to make your formula fresh every one to two feedings, to ensure that the formula is safe for consumption So don’t make a big jug of it to serve throughout the day. Follow the preparation instructions for the formula you purchase and make sure that any powder you don’t use get sealed and put in the refrigerator right away If you’re using a powdered formula, mix the powder thoroughly with more water according to the instructions Until it’s completely smooth You might benefit from using a product like a smoothie shaker which will break up the formula’s clumps it’s important that the formula is clump free, because a clump can clog the bottle and result in a lot of frustration for both you and the kitten Finally make sure that your formula is the right temperature. You can mix your powder formula with warm water But if you’re using an already mixed formula that you’ve saved in the fridge You’re going to want to get it to the right temperature before you feed Some people do this with a quick 8 seconds zap at the microwave And other people use a teakettle method You can pour boiling water into a mug Place the bottle in the mug and let it float for about 20 seconds Shake up the bottle thoroughly and test it on the inside of your wrist to ensure that it’s comfortably warm Remember that if the temperature is too hot or too cold for your skin It’s definitely not the right temperature for a tiny kitten Once you’ve got your bottle ready It’s time for tip number three “Properly feeding your kitten.” Before you reach for a bottle make sure that it’s safe to feed the kitten Because kittens cannot self regulate their body temperature Hypothermia may occur in kittens who are orphaned if the kitten feels cold to the touch or has a temperature of 95 degrees or less It’s not safe to feed her, focus on gradually increasing her temperature before attempting to feed Once the kitten is the appropriate temperature, it’s time to bottle feeding When you’re getting ready to feed a kitten, find a comfortable place to put her in your lap or on a table Always feed the kitten in a natural belly down posture The kitten should be comfortably lying or seated with her belly towards the floor May have seen images in the past of kittens eating on their back like a human baby, but this is very wrong and very dangerous Feeding a kitten on her back will be like hanging a human from her feet and feeding her a burger It just doesn’t make any sense. Feeding a kitten on her back can cause aspiration Which is where a kitten inhale fluid into the lungs. This is so dangerous, so please Never ever feed a kitten on her back. Think of how a kitten would feed from her mother on her belly Laying down or sitting next to the mama. Sit the kitten in your lap or on a table Holding the head steady with your non-dominant hand and introduce the nipple to her mouth with your dominant hand Don’t be scared to really hold the kittens head, this is how you’re going to help direct her towards the food Invert the bottle so that the formula can slowly flow into the kittens mouth but never forcefully squeeze the bottle into her mouth Instead you want her to suckle at her own pace Ideally the kitten will latch. Latching is when a kitten makes a U shape with her tongue and suckles to drink the formula You’ll know she’s latched when she looks like she’s very engaged and active maybe even with telltale ear wiggle Place a finger on her throat to ensure that she’s swallowing and she eats You’ll be able to feel each gulp which will let you know that she’s eating properly. Here’s what a good latch looks like So hopefully that’s what you’re going to get But just in case here’s tip number four;
“How to feed fussy kittens” Getting that perfect latch feels great, but it doesn’t always happen here’s a tip for what to do If you have a fussy kitten that just doesn’t want to cooperate If the kitten doesn’t latch, don’t panic Eating out of the side of the mouth is something that some kids may do at first And that’s okay as long as she is definitely swallowing and as long as she doesn’t have her premolars or molars yet Kittens who are five weeks or older will have teeth on the side of their mouth that can easily shred a nipple and they could swallow it and cause a blockage But younger kittens don’t have teeth on the side of their mouth yet So if they do chew on a nipple on the side of their mouth It’s okay as long as your finger is on their throat and you can feel that they are swallowing if the kitten is fussy and doesn’t seem interested in eating Stop what you’re doing and try to figure out what the problem is Sometimes it’s just the posture, or the flow of the formula So make sure that you’re feeding in a comfortable position, and that there is something wrong with the bottle Is it too hot? Is it too cold? Is the hole in the nipple big enough? Is there a clump blocking the formula for coming out? All of these things can cause a kitten to just not really know what to do So make sure that everything is working properly. If the kitten is squirmy or disinterested, remember this okay to really handle them Some people are scared to handle a kitten because of how fragile they are But you have to remember that the kitten doesn’t know what you’re trying to do You have to show them So hold the head and body stable with one hand You can even wrap them in a blanket if need be, using the barbershop technique Like this This can help the kitten stay focused and protect your hands from tiny claws at the same time You can also help the kitten feel ready to bottle feed by brushing her with a toothbrush or by cradling her face in your hand This simulates the experience of being nozzled against the mama’s fuzzy belly and being groomed, which can help encourage them to eat Most importantly remember to be really patient with your kitten. If they’re being really fussy, just remember to take it slow and help solve the problem It’s so important that you get some food in these little guys every couple hours And you’re the only hope they have, so try to be patient with them Okay, so tip number five; “Feed the right amount and the right frequency.” Young kittens require frequent feedings, so be prepared and care for them around the clock until they’re about five or six weeks of age and weaning onto wet food For the first few weeks of life That will mean waking up in the middle of the night to feed Try not to be intimidated by having to wake up in the middle of the night Even though the care is frequent it only takes a few minutes of your time And it makes a huge difference for the little guys. Having small amounts of food every few hours is going to help keep them hydrated and keep them balanced with nutrients and fat that they need for rapid development and weight gaining You’ll see that as the kittens get older, the amount they eat will increase but the frequency of feeding will decrease That means that the older the kittens are, the longer of a break you’ll get between feeding. You can use this feeding chart to determine how much your kittens should be eating and how often Just remember that each kitten is different, so this is just a guideline, not a rule book. Some kittens vary in weight and development So use your best judgment while keeping this guide in mind as a helpful baseline. Tip number six; “Monitor the kittens progress.” Make sure that you have a small digital scale on hand and weigh them daily So that you can monitor how they’re doing Having their weight will help you determine their stomach capacity and how often they should be eating But it will also help alert you if something’s going wrong Keeping track of the kittens weight is a great way to ensure that the kitten is making the necessary gains Weight the kitten at least once a day and write down her weight in grams She should be gaining at least 10 grams per day. If the kitten is not gaining weight or if she loses weight Seek immediate veterinary support My last tip is to remember that it doesn’t stop a bottle feeding You will also be tasked with stimulating the kitten to go to the bathroom Atending to her medical needs, keeping her warm and clean And otherwise providing her with a safe and secure environment until she’s old enough for adoption After feeding, wipe down the kittens face so that no formula is sticking to her fur Gently rub the kittens genitals with a soft tissue to stimulate her to urinate and defecate Do this at each feeding being mindful to wipe up afterwards so that she stays clean and comfortable Once the kitten has been fed, stimulated and cleaned up It’s time for her to go back to her warm safe space until the next feeding Repeat until the kitten is weaning onto wet kitten food Good luck with your bottle feeding and thank you for helping to fight for the little guys

100 thoughts on “How to Safely Bottle Feed a Kitten

  • Lol everyone is saying how they don’t have a kitten but I actually had to watch this to feed my bb kitten

  • Omg THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE INFO! I NEEDED THIS ONE OF MY KITTENS ARE DYING IRL OF STARVATION FROM THE MOTHER NOT FEEDING IT TYSVMM!!

  • Hye i would like to ask u.. I hve kitten 2 months old.. Do i still have to gve them formula if they know how to eat already.. Now they eat wetfood..

  • i have a 6 day old kitten. she starting to not eat as much. im using a dropper and syringer but she spits the miracle nipple out. only able to get maybe 1ml in her every 2 hrs. how else can i get her to eat?

  • Thank you so much for this. Me and my girlfriend are putting it to use, I wish we'd have known this earlier and won't make any mistakes next time. You're an actual savior.

  • This is only the secind one of her videos ive watch and it has already helped me a great deal… my mimma cat died in the night last night after giving birth to 3 sweet babys… so im now mothering these 3 orphaned kittens… i dont know what happened she was fine and the suddenly she stopped breathing…

  • Thank you for showing this i have a cat that had babies yesterday and now she won't feed them and they are always starving you saving my cats 💕💖

  • Thank you very much kitten lady! This is a very helpful video. I hope my kitten survive for another few weeks. 😊

  • I have a baby kitten right now and I am bottle feeding it. Everyone needs to remember that when having to bottle feed a kitten, you have to do it regular. They are babies just like a human baby have to be fed often. I just love animals. At least they reciprocate back when you love them.

  • I hope you reply. We have a 3 week old and she won't take a bottle, and we have her on a kitten formula and pro plan kitten slurry in a dish. She sucks the formula thru the pate. She uses the litter box already. Please give us some guidance on the feeding schedule

  • Thank you i have a kitten that has an eye infection and she or he also does not eat she/he always fallys asleep, also he/she is really tiny compared to otheres. Allthough she/he has a mother her mom lost hope of her and she cant find the mums nipple. So im trying to bottle feed but she/he does not eat

  • Kitten Lady thank you. I had a mom cat run under my semi when I was at a Dairy Farmer. She had a kitten attached still. I got the kitten of the mommy. But she didnt want anything to do with kitten. In short took it home. N 7 weeks later Bullet is doing good. Thanks to u. Watched ur videos n didnt hav a clue. On feeding n going potty. It was so cool watching ears come open. N knew to put heating pad in its bed. That was it. If no one ever tells u anything. Just know u are helping us humans n kittens…

  • I found a kitten and I knew that it did not have a mom because I was walking and the mom and all the other kittens were smooshed and dead

  • Can you make a video of actually new born babys because I have 3 that were born yesterday at night and I have no idea why 1 doesn't want to drink the powder formula or from the moms niples

  • I found three baby kittens in my barn thinking their momma would come back I left them alone but kept checking in on them every few hours, haven’t found their mom yet

  • Well after a long and fretful night on our part, we found your video this morning…..and….SUCCESS! The Kitten Lady is the place to be if you need step by step information with all those little details you need (that you don’t even KNOW you need!!) to get your little kitten to feed. I could not believe how much better our feedings went when I changed just a few tiny details. Thanks, The Kitten Lady!!!!!

  • Thank you so much! 6 baby kittens where born in my storage space on my patio 2 weeks ago and I needed this! Thank you for helping!

  • so u actually can give cats cow milk but u need to mix it with raw eggs. this trick is for people who cant buy kitten formula. you're welcome, random comment browser.

  • I found this kitten under a car and I’m not sure but I may have seen the mom last night because they’re the same color. What should I do? I live in the city next to a busy road.

  • Thankyou so much someone threw a kitten out in my yard today and now i can feed her properly it scared me when she slept so much but now since ive watched your channel i feel better

  • I found my kittens in my garage outside and mostly all of my family doesn’t like cats but I told them too keep them until they are older😣

  • Can you use a electric blanket instead of a snuggle safe? I read that some of the snuggle safe's melted….. I also already have a electric blanket.

  • Okay so we found kittens and moved them not knowing. 🙁 We had them inside about 30 min while I researched and found out we should have left them. I put them back. But will it be too late now?? :(@

  • im getting a kitten soon (not sure how old quite yet, meeting the lady tomorrow), so I'm watching and learning as much as i can. these videos help me so muchc

  • I'm so upset. My daughter took in a teenage kitten not realizing that she was pregnant. She figured it out a few weeks before the cat gave birth to these extremely tiny kittens. One kitten died and my daughter noticed that the mom did not care about her kittens. Fearing for their lives, she brought them to me with bottles and kitten formula. I watched your video and tried my best to feed them for two days. But, I figured someone else knew how to foster them better. I have a granddaughter I watch all day long and a cat loving dog that whimpers and needs to sniff them every time they cry. My granddaughter has Cyanotic Breathing Spells so I can't let her cry for long. So I called the Animal Shelter and explained it to them. The mom never looked for them or cared that they were gone. She was playing with the other cats. The Shelter Woman shamed me saying I needed to put them back with their mother. I said she doesn't care about them and I don't know what I'm doing. So, she told me they would take it in only with the mother. So we put them back with the mom. My daughter comes home to find the mother tossing her dead kitten in the air like a toy with his tail unattached. She doesn't have time to do much because she has to rush to the hospital with her daughter but she puts the corpse in a bag and leaves. She ended up spending an entire day and night at the hospital. They got home 2 hrs ago and walked in to find the mom had gotten her dead kitten out of the bag and dismantled the kitten into pieces. They still don't know where the head is. So, the two remaining kittens are bigger, they were being fed by her, but they are now back with me. So, they are now a week old. Eyes still closed. I need to watch your videos because when I called the Animal Shelter to complain about being pressured to put them back with their neglectful mom, they told me they would have fixed her and killed them. So, yeah…

  • Hi! I have a question I just got 2 babes from my shelter. Theyre between 3&4 weeks but to me they're underweight. I was told they were weaned and on wet food already. So I was given wet food, dry food, litter and some upcoming shot appts and sent on my way. Luckily I watched all your fostering videos prior to fostering and already had kitten safe litter pellets ready at home. So I went to my local pet store and bought a bottle and formula. I tried to bottle feed thinking they'd know exactly what a bottle was and oddly they don't know how to latch one will lick and chew from it (actually consuming milk) the other has no desire. So I've been mixing the formula into the wet food so at least they're getting some of the nutrients. Shall I continue to let them eat wet food or try and get them to take the bottle ? Sorry if this seems like a silly question this is my first time fostering kittens and I just want the best outcome for these guys. Thanks !

  • Is whiskas catmilk okay for me to feed a kitten ? I couldn’t afford anything else at the moment so I grabbed it thinking it’ll be a okay

  • Hi! I’ve found three kitten who were just born last night and was thrown away by someone in front of my house. Could you recommend what I should do to feed them since they are way younger than the kittens you feed here? All the help is appreciated, thank you!

  • You have been such a help to me however I did have to use miralax because when I first got her she was 3 weeks old and for the week she didn't poop she only pooped one little bit she was constipatedso last night I gave her some miralax and she pooped diarrhea and she's about four and a half weeks and I just got her started on eating cat food and she loves it she's a feisty little girl for 4 week old kitten

  • We found three kittens but couldn't feed them even with special bottles. It was as if we were torturing them. We gave them for adoption. Best we could do.

  • I think my 15 day old kitten swallowed the wrong way and snorts all the time and raises it's head to breath by the mouth. It's late at night here in Cyprus, so what do I do when feeding time comes, which is soon. Do I feed it, will it worsen the problem, is it condemn to die from aspiration/ It's 5:30 a.m. and I'm afraid to sleep, holding it in my arms.

  • This was so very helpful. I just got a kitten who stopped feeding form it's mom or the mom stopped caring for it. Not sure of the real story, but I am willing to take on the challenge.

  • I trid to bottle feed my 5 week old kittens bekause the Mom seems to have Not enove milk vor all six kittens but they doont drink it like on Mama they are beiting around the botle like it was meet or somephing.The milk is koming out but not on the rigth way kän sombady help me(sory for the bed inglisch)

  • I love cats once i had to look after a kitten orfit and i did evrything a mother cat would do even bath it with my tung🐈

  • Thank you. Our cats owe you. The videos you have made are very helpful. While out vet is our primary source you are the next very best source. Thank You.

  • Seriously? Why would anyone hit "dislike" on these videos? She does a fantastic job explaining procedure, technique and step by step instructions. With so many abandoned and feral cats having kittens, these videos are such a blessing for those of us who have rescued a litter of abandoned kittens at one time or another. Thanks to Kitten Lady, I was able to save and nurture eight little kittens until they were old enough to find their forever home – one little guy ended up staying and is now part of our family!
    Yes, there are cat rescue organizations. But what happens if you rescue a litter of newborn kittens on a Saturday night and cannot talk to a vet, and don't know what to do? Watch Kitten Lady – she'll show you what to do to make sure these poor innocent babies at least have a chance at survival.
    Thank you Kitten Lady! You are truly a Godsend for animal lovers and baby kittens everywhere!

  • This video was incredibly helpful for me! I'm currently fostering an abandoned kitten, about 2-3 weeks old. This covered everything that the Veterinarian covered but in even more detail. Thank you!!!

  • I have been feeding a few Kittens have sent Instagram, as of last week the last two have 'adventured-off' but the videos were really entertaining and useful meanwhile.

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