Bottle feeding kittens can be a time consuming and occasionally difficult experience. There are a number of reasons bottle feeding is required. This can include orphaned or abandoned litters, their mother may have a medical condition or inadequate milk supply, or the kitten may have a medical condition.
Kittens have nutritional requirements their mother provides in her milk. In the event they require bottle feeding, it’s important to use veterinary recommended milk supplement in accordance with the guidelines on the packaging.
Tools for bottle feeding kittens
Milk Supplement – Wombaroo, Biolac and Divetelact are common formulas used to bottle feed kittens. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend a suitable supplement and explain the feeding guidelines on the packaging.
Bottle – It is most ideal to use a bottle specifically for kittens. These can be purchased from a veterinarian or reputable pet store. The size of the hole in the nipple must not be too big. If milk drips when the bottle is upside down, it is too big and the fluid may be aspirated by the little one causing pneumonia. The correct size hole will allow milk to drip when the bottle is lightly squeezed.
If the kitten is not suckling on their own, seek veterinary advice – not only must this be addressed with appropriate supplementation of nutrition/fluid requirements, it can be an indicator that the kitten is unwell and requires urgent treatment.
Bottle feeding tips
- Follow the instructions on the packaging and mix well so there are no lumps.
- The formula must be close to room temperature – not cold and not microwaved.
- Feed the kitten while they are resting on their stomachs not upright as with human infants.
- Wet the nipple with the formula to give it a flavour encouraging the kitten to commence suckling
- Allow the kitten to suck on their own. Do not squeeze the bottle to force milk into their mouths as they can aspirate if too much milk is distributed.
- Do not overfeed the kitten. If a kitten is overfed, they can inhale the formula into their lungs rather than swallow it into their stomach. This can also cause severe diarrhoea.
- Wash your hands well prior to handling feeding bottles and kittens to avoid the spread of infection.
How often to feed
The supplement packaging will give guidelines for feeding kittens based on their age. Veterinarians are also available
to offer advice and show you how to feed kittens correctly. The following are guidelines and do not replace the advice of your veterinarian or on the supplement packaging.
Week 1 – Feed every two hours 24 hours per day
Weeks 1 to 3 – Feed every three to four hours
Week 4+ – Feed every six to twelve hours. Kittens are able to have solid food introduced during this period and their milk requirements will depend on how much solid food they are eating.
Solid foods specifically for kittens can be introduced at 3-4 weeks. This is the time the kitten can be offered their formula in a bowl. It is important they receive an appropriate food with nutrients in the right proportions – your veterinarians can provide some recommendations.
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