Bottle Feeding Kittens

This guide provides information on caring for kittens that are bottle-fed (“bottle babies”), which are very young kittens left orphaned or abandoned. This resource includes information about feeding, medical care, milestones, and how to wean.

Warmth and comfort

Bottle babies must be carried in a carrier when they are not being fed or cared for. Keep the kittens warm. Wrap the kittens in a heated pad that is approved for pets, such as a K&H pet heating pad or Snugglesafe pet blanket warmer. A soft fleece blanket can be used as the top layer of bedding instead of a towel. If the kittens are getting too warm, make sure that the carrier is big enough to allow them to move around the heating pad. The heating pad will be needed by kittens until they reach 3-4 weeks of age.

Wrap the carrier in a blanket or towel and keep it away from any other pets. You should check the bedding for any messes at least once a day. You should change the bedding at least once per day, if your kittens soil it, or more frequently.

The ideal temperature for a kitten is between 100 and 102 degrees. If a kitten feels unresponsive or is feeling cold, they should be brought up immediately. Do not feed a kitten who is cold. Wrap the kitten in towels and place it on a heating pad. Every 5 minutes, flip the kitten around. You can gently massage the kitten with your hand to stimulate blood flow. If your kitten doesn’t respond in 20-30 minutes, you should contact your doctor immediately.


Avoid giving kittens cow’s milk as it is not the right nutrition. Young kittens can also be at risk from diarrhea from cow’s milk. Make sure you only give your kittens approved kitten formulas. Hoskins is a good choice. KMR, a powdered formula from a commercial company, is also an option.

After formula has been stored in the fridge, it must be brought to room temperature. The bottle should be placed in a bowl with shallow water. After that, heat the microwave for 10 seconds. You can also place the bottle in a bowl with hot water and let it sit for a while. Warm water is best for mixing fresh KMR powder. To ensure that the kittens are not overheated, test the temperature by placing a few drops of the formula on your wrist. Before and after you feed the kittens, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Before each use, clean the bottles thoroughly.

You will need to make a hole in your bottle nipple’s top if it is brand new. Use small, sharp scissors to make an X at the tip of your nipple. You can also use a large needle to burn a hole in your nipple. The needle can be heated with a match and then inserted through the nipple tip. It might take several attempts to get the hole just right. After you have made the hole, place the nipple onto a bottle of formula. Then turn the bottle upside-down to test it. The formula should slowly drip out of the hole. The kittens will not eat enough if the hole is too large.

Keep a “kitten dress” (a robe or sweatshirt) in the kitten’s room to prevent them from spreading viruses to other pets. A “kitten gown” (a robe, sweatshirt, etc.) should be kept in the kittens’ area for handling and feeding. If you prefer, you can also use gloves.

Never give a kitten food on his back. The kitten should lie on his stomach, in the same position as his mother would. The kitten can be held upright with a warm towel wrapped around him or placed on your lap. You can experiment with which position is best for both you and your kitten.

The bottle should be turned upside down. Allow a small amount of formula to escape. To prevent air from entering the kitten’s stomach, place the bottle nipple into its mouth. The kitten should start eating after this movement. If you fail to succeed at first, wait for a while and try again. The kitten will usually latch on to the bottle and start to suckle. If the bottle seems to be collapsing gently lift the nipple out of the kitten’s mouth to let more air return.

Let the kitten suckle at his own pace. If the kitten won’t suckle, stroke her back gently or rub her forehead. The kitten may be stimulated to nurse by this gentle stroke, which is similar to momma’s cat cleaning. If that fails, you can rub some Karo Syrup onto the kitten’s lips. If your kitten refuses to nurse, you should immediately contact your doctor.

It is best to avoid feeding a chilled kitten. This can cause serious health problems. Warm the kitten using the methods described above. If the kitten is not responding to your attempts, call your doctor immediately.

A kitten should consume 8 milliliters (8 mls) of formula for every ounce of their body weight each day. A kitten weighing 4 ounces should consume 32 mls per day of formula. Divide the total formula consumed per day by the number and determine the amount to feed each kitten. If you feed 32 mls daily and give 7 feedings per hour (approximately every 3 hours), then that would be 4.5 mls.

Nursing bottles come with measurements so you can easily see how much you are feeding your kittens. Some bottles use ml as a measurement while others use cubic centimeters. They are identical: 1 cc equals 1 ml

Use a small scale or a kitchen scale to weigh your kittens each day. This will help you determine how much formula they require. Keep track of the kittens’ daily weights and how much formula they eat at each feeding.

For kittens under 1 week, they should be fed every 2-3 hours. By 2 weeks, every 4 to 6 hours. After 3 weeks, kittens can be fed every 4-6 hours. To determine how much food a kitten should eat, continue to use the 8 mls formula per ounce body weight daily rule.

If you have multiple kittens to feed, first give the first kitten food until he stops crying. Then, start feeding the next kitten. After you have given all the kittens food, feed each kitten one more time. It is common to only take one to three nursing turns. If a kitten stops nursing, it is considered that he/she is done. Overfeeding kittens can lead to loose stool and diarrhea. A well-fed kitten’s stomach should be full and round. However, it shouldn’t be hard or distended. A smaller or weaker kitten may need more frequent feedings and eat less.

As humans, kittens should be brushed. Place the kitten on its stomach, on your shoulder, or on your lap. Then gently pat his back until he makes a small burp. It is possible that you will need to burp occasionally.

Young kittens might lick each other. It is normal for kittens to suckle on each other. However, make sure that they don’t damage the skin or fur of their littermate. You should remove kittens if they are suckling in a way that causes problems.


At 3 1/2 to 4 weeks old, weaning can begin. Begin by giving the kittens some formula on a spoon. After they have mastered the art of licking off the spoon, you can put some formula into a saucer. Once they are comfortable with squeezing the formula from the saucer, add some canned food slowly to the saucer. This will create a gruel. You can gradually increase the canned food by adding more food but less formula. Some kittens will learn quickly, while others might take several days. You may have to keep your kittens hydrated until they can eat on their own. You should only feed your kittens what they need, but not too much.

To ensure that the kittens are able to digest the gruel mixture well, monitor their stool. Reduce the canned food until the kittens are accustomed to the formula. You can add more water to your formula mix as the kittens adjust to the new gruel mixture. When making KMR formula, you will need to add more water. Mix 1 part formula with 2 parts water. Instead of mixing 1 part formula with 2 parts water, add 1 part formula to 3 to 4 parts water. You can add 1 ounce more water to the Hoskins recipe.

You will need to make sure your kittens have plenty of water as they eat more food. You may add dry food to the kittens’ diet. To get the kittens to eat the dry food, add some watered down formula mix. Reduce the amount of formula gradually and let the kittens eat the food dry. Keep an eye on your kittens’ stool to ensure they are able to eat the food. Contact your doctor if you experience diarrhea or constipation after changing your diet.

Hydration and weight

Your kittens should be weighed daily. Kittens should gain approximately 1/2 ounce per day, or 3 to 4 ounces each week. Most kittens reach 2 pounds by 8 weeks. In the logbook, enter their daily weights. Contact your veterinarian immediately if the kittens aren’t gaining or losing weight.

A properly hydrated kitten will be well-fed. Pull up on the kitten’s skin from the scruff of its neck to check for hydration. The skin should bounce easily back. The kitten could be dehydrated if it does not bounce back or falls back down slowly. Contact your doctor if the kitten seems dehydrated.

Training in litter elimination and litter box training

Young kittens are unable to eliminate themselves. Momma cat will bathe her kittens and encourage them to have a bowel movement. You are now their caregiver and have the privilege of doing this job. Use a moist, warm cotton ball, tissue, or soft cloth to gently clean the kitten’s lower abdomen, genital, and anal areas after each feeding. Within a matter of minutes, the kitten should be able to start eliminating. After each meal, kittens should have at least one bowel movement per day. You should not rub your kitten more than one minute as this can cause irritation to their delicate skin. After she has finished eliminating, gently wash the kitten with a soft, clean, damp cloth. In the logbook, record the kitten’s elimination type and frequency.

Kittens can be placed in the litter box when they are 3-4 weeks old. You can use a small plastic or cardboard litter box and just enough clay litter to cover it. Don’t use clumping litter. To help them understand what to do next, add a cotton ball from when they urinate to the box. Allow the kittens to explore the litter by placing them in it. The kittens will instinctively learn to use the litter.

A happy kitten is a clean kitten

Clean any formula, urine or other messes from the kitten with a soft, warm, damp cloth after you have finished feeding it. This is how the momma cat would wash the kittens. To clean the kitten’s fur more thoroughly, you can use a wetter cloth dipped into warm water. You should not apply soap or shampoo to the kitten. To clean your kitten with shampoo, mix one to two drops of shampoo in a cup of warm, soapy water. Then, use the dampened cloth to wipe it clean. Clean the area using a clean, warm cloth. Use a soft towel to dry the kitten. The kitten should not be allowed to get chilled. After the kitten has dried completely, place her in a carrier with a heating pad. Be sure to cover it with clean bedding.

The ears of kittens should be clean and free from dirt. You can clean the ears gently with a Q tip. If it is dirty, you might need to moisten it in warm water. Ear-cleaning solutions can be dangerous for kittens. Do not scrub the entire ear. If your ears appear to be very dirty, or if you notice ear mites (specks that resemble coffee grounds), consult your doctor about possible treatment options.

Some kittens might have some eye discharge. You can clean the eye area by gently wiping it with a damp, warm cloth. If the discharge persists, the eyes become cloudy or the eyes become closed, you can clean them as described above and contact your doctor for further treatment.

Separately wash all kitten bedding and other household laundry with detergent and 3/4 cup bleach per load. Use 1/4 cup bleach per gallon to clean litter boxes and carriers used by the kittens. To the water you can add one tablespoon of laundry soap. Avoid using cleaning agents that aren’t approved to be mixed with bleach or contain ammonia. This could lead to dangerous fumes. Before putting the kittens back in the carrier or litter box, make sure they are clean and dry.

Medical care

  • If kittens show any of these symptoms, it is best to consult a veterinarian.
  • Do not give kittens medication without first consulting a veterinarian.
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Do not urinate if you are unable to do so.
  • Vomiting
  • Upper respiratory symptoms include goopy/watery eyelids, runny nose and constant sneezing.
  • Do not eat
  • Lethargy
  • Behavior or attitude change
  • Hair loss
  • Everything you are concerned or worried about
  • Kittens milestones in development

Kittens are approximately 2 to 4 ounces in weight at birth. They are deaf, blind and completely dependent on their mother cat for survival. Some developmental milestones:

Their eyes open at 7-10 days. Within 20 days, kittens’ eyes will be fully open. They remain blue until 6 to 7 weeks of age.

  • They start crawling around 16 to 20 days.
  • At 3-4 weeks, they will start to play together.
  • Solid food can be introduced within 3-4 weeks. The first set of juvenile teeth will be cut and litter box training begins.
  • At six weeks old, kittens can run and climb, and are full of mischief.
  • At 8 weeks, kittens are ready to receive their first vaccines and undergo spay/neuter procedures.

Love and care

Your kitten’s development is dependent on your emotional and physical contact. Cuddling kittens and gently petting them can help them bond with you and make them feel secure and safe. You can stimulate their brains and develop motor skills by playing with them with different toys.