Feeding Newborn Kittens

Newborn kitten

Feeding newborn kittens is different from feeding adult cats. If you've recently adopted newborn kittens, or you are thinking of adopting kittens, you need to know how to properly care for and nourish these adorable pets. There is a lot you need to know to make sure your kittens grow into beautiful cats, but here are some tips.

Advice on Feeding Newborn Kittens

Similar to a newborn baby, a newborn kitten is very fragile and vulnerable. Their bodies are just beginning to develop, and thus the proper nutrition is vital to their survival. Considering that they are lacking a mother cat, you have to become their surrogate mother. Although feeding newborn kittens should only take about ten to twenty minutes each time, you will need to do this several times a day. Further, you will have to bottle feed your newborn kitten.

How Much to Feed

The first thing you'll need is a small pet bottle that you will use to feed formula to the kittens. You can pick up kitten/puppy bottles at your local pet supply store, or order them online.

Its important to note that you must sterilize these bottles before you use them. Newborn kittens are extremely susceptible to infections and germs, thus you want to ensure the safest possible environment for your pet. Sterilize both the bottle and the nipple in boiling water. This should take about five minutes. Next, allow both pieces to cool properly. You do not want to burn your newborn.

Next, lay out a large towel, a rougher textured cloth and a bowl of warm water on the table next to a chair. The water temperature should be about 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

What to Feed

Take the cooled bottle and fill it with a kitten milk replacement formula that can be purchased at a pet store or online (KMR brand is one example of kitten milk). Do not feed standard cow's milk from the grocery store. Most formulas offer guidelines on how much to feed a kitten of a particular size, so weigh each kitten and use those guidelines to help you get started.

Fill the bottle according to the feeding guidelines, and then set the bottle in the bowl of warm water to take the chill off of it. Next, carefully observe just how much milk it takes to fill the kitten. Some kittens may take a little more or a little less formula than the guidelines recommend. What you want to see is a slightly rounded tummy after feeding and a kitten that now seems content. After a couple of feedings, you will begin to get a feel for how much your newborn wants. You may or may not have to cut a slight sliver in the nipple to adjust the flow as needed.

How to Feed

To feed, sit in a chair and place the towel on your lap. Place your kitten face down on your lap. This is important because when feeding newborn kittens, you must ensure your kitten is warm before you begin to feed it. If your kitten is cold when you feed it, this might cause a serious digestive problem. Do not lift the kitten's head, but place the nipple of the bottle in its mouth instead.Your kitten should begin nursing right away. If it does not nurse, make sure the nipple is working properly. You might also try gently stroking the back of your kitten if it seems it is reluctant to begin nursing. However, it should begin nursing soon. As stated above, let the kitten nurse for as long as it wants the formula, but do not try to force the kitten to take more than it wants.

Other Steps

Next, you might have to burp your kitten. Place one hand underneath the kitten's stomach, and pat his back gently. If he doesn't burp, he might not need to burp. Afterward, your kitten has to be encouraged to defecate and urinate because newborns are unable to do this on their own. Take your roughened towel and wet it in the water. Gently rub your kitten underneath the tail. It may take a couple times of feeding before a kitten feels comfortable enough to eliminate wastes.

How Often to Feed

In the beginning, your kitten will need a little more than one ounce of formula each day. This should be split evenly throughout the day, into about ten or eleven feedings. Thus, you should feed the kitten about every two hours. After each feeding, allow your kitten to go back to sleep.

Feeding Newborn Kittens