Newborn Kitten Care

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How Do I Feed a Newborn Kitten?

Kittens under 4 weeks of age cannot eat solid food. It doesn’t matter whether the food is canned or dry. They rely completely on their mother for milk to survive and get the nutrients they need. If the mother isn’t around, the kitten will rely on you.

If the kitten’s mother is absent, you can feed your newborn kitten a nutritional substitute called kitten milk replacer. It’s important that you avoid feeding a kitten the same milk that humans consume.  Cow’s milk can make cats very sick. If you’re unsure of which kitten milk replacer to choose, a veterinarian can help you select the right one. 

Most dry milk replacers can be made as needed and refrigeration is not always required. If extra milk is prepared, it should be stored in the fridge. To feed your kitten, follow these simple steps:

Prepare the formula. Warm your kitten formula to slightly above room temperature. Always test the temperature of the formula before you feed your kitten. You can do this by placing a few drops on your wrist to ensure it’s not too hot. 

Keep things clean. Before and after each feeding, wash your hands and the bottle that you used to feed your kitten. It’s also recommended to have a “kitten gown.” This could be a shirt or a robe that you only wear when you’re feeding or handling your kitten. Using a kitten gown helps reduce the possibility of spreading germs. 

Feed them gently. When it’s time to feed your kitten, handle them with care. The kitten should be on their stomach lying next to you the same way they would nurse from their mom. Try holding your kitten in a warm towel while they sit on your lap. The key is to find a position that feels comfortable for the both of you. 

Let them take the lead. Hold the bottle of formula to your kitten’s mouth and let the kitten suckle at their own pace. If the kitten doesn’t eat right away, gently stroke their forehead. The stroking stimulates how their mother would clean them. It encourages the kitten to eat. 

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