Here's How To Bottle-Feed A Kitten

🚨 Emergencies only 🚨

With the spring approaching, you might just find your animal-loving self playing mom or dad to a litter of adorable kittens.

It happened to me once — one spring I found myself with 10 orphaned (but crazy-adorable) kittens and was able to take care of them and find them all the best homes ever.

If you find yourself in the same situation, your orphaned kittens will rely on you to provide them with all their basic needs — and that includes, of course, mealtime!

If you found your kittens at a super young age — or perhaps your cat had a litter and can’t produce enough milk — odds are you’re going to have to learn to bottle-feed them.

To help, The Dodo reached out to Dr. Catherine Lenox, a veterinarian and regulatory veterinary manager at Royal Canin, for some tips on what to do.

When should you bottle-feed a kitten?

“It’s important not to bottle-feed a kitten unless absolutely necessary,” Dr. Lenox told The Dodo. “Nursing on the mother is much better for a kitten.”

According to Dr. Lenox, times when bottle-feeding might be necessary include an orphaned kitten without a mother, or a kitten whose mother is not producing enough milk.

How to bottle-feed a kitten

“Your veterinary team is going to be the best source of advice if you need to bottle-feed a neonatal kitten,” Dr. Lenox said.

According to Dr. Lenox, your vet should assess the kitten to make sure it’s safe to feed the kitten with a bottle, and should check for basics like her temperature and weight.

Things you’ll need to bottle-feed your kitten:

  1. A bottle

Like this nursing kit from Amazon for $11.99

  1. A commercial kitten milk replacer

Like this PetAg KMR Kitten Milk Replacement Powder from Amazon for $44.99

“Make sure you purchase a commercial kitten milk replacer (goat’s or cow’s milk have a different nutritional composition compared to cat’s milk),” Dr. Lenox said.

She also added that it’s important that you get directions from your veterinary team on how much to feed, how often and how to stimulate the kitten to urinate and defecate after feeding.

Prepare you kitten’s bottle

Once you have your items — and your adorably hungry kitten — and you’ve touched base with your vet, you’ll want to make sure you follow the directions on your kitten milk replacer to prepare it.

Feed your kitten

When you’re ready to go, follow these steps to safely bottle-feed your kitten:

  1. Lay your kitten belly-down — keeping in mind that you never want her on her back during feeding.
  2. Hold her head stable and gently slide the nipple into her mouth.
  3. Slowly raise the bottle to promote a steady flow of formula.
  4. Feed the amount recommended by your veterinarian.
  5. Be careful not to squeeze the bottle because this can cause aspiration.

When feeding your kitten, always remember that it might take some time for her to learn to latch on — just like a human baby! And reach out to your veterinarian if you have any questions during the process.

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