In the event that you have a kitten who was taken from the mother too soon, lost their mother, or a mom cat who is unable to nurse, then bottle feeding them may be your only option to ensure they survive. When it comes to bottle feeding a kitten, it isn’t much different to feeding a baby.
What You Will Need
Mix the Formula
Firstly you will want to mix the formula according to the label. Mixing the formula in a clean glass jar makes this easy. Put the formula with the water inside the jar, seal the lid tightly, and shake! Remove the lid and give it a few whisks to make sure there are no clumps and put it aside. You will want to make a decent amount if you have more than one kitten. It can be stored in the fridge for a few days and warmed in a pot of hot water when ready to feed again. Be sure to always store unused formula in the fridge to keep it from spoiling or growing bacteria.
Prepare the Bottle
Next, you will want to prepare the nipple on the bottle. Take the top off and rinse clean with hot water (do not use soap) and put the container to the side. Take the nipple and make a small X in the tip using scissors. It is very important not to make a large hole or leave a tiny one. The kitten can choke on too much formula and too tight of a nipple flow can cause the kitten to swallow air which is not a good thing. If the bottle comes as a kit, be sure to use the appropriate nipple for kittens.
Take the formula, making sure it is warm, and use the syringe to fill the bottle. Give it a few shakes and get your kitten(s) ready. Once they taste it they will know it is food and will start crying for more. You will want to feed the kitten till it is full. It will let you know by backing away from the nipple. Feeding times vary for different kittens but most will want to be fed every 3 to 5 hours depending on appetite, the amount they eat in one sitting, and age.
How to Feed
When you are feeding the kitten, you will want to hold them properly. Allow the kitten to be upright and loosely grasp the kitten’s chest right under the neckline with the opposite feeding hand. Allow the kitten to be slightly looking up. This aids in feeding and digestion. The kitten shouldn’t be struggling in this position. NEVER feed the kitten like a human on its back. It needs to be upright. Being on its back can cause gas to build up in the intestines. Remember you are replacing the mother, they are not replacing a human baby. When the kitten is done, gently stroke the back a few times to aid in the digestion. Think of your fingers as the mother’s tongue. Be gentle but firm. Do this in the direction of the rear. If you have a squirmy kitten, you can wrap them in a towel while feeding but just remember to keep them upright. After feeding, be sure to clean all of the formula off of the kitten’s fur so it does not cause a rash or balding. You may also use a warm damp cloth to clean them as well. Whichever you prefer. Baby wipes are just more convenient, trust me.
Use a Feeding Schedule
Using a nesting box is the easiest way to set a feeding schedule. Use something that is large enough for the kittens to move around in and tall enough where they can’t get out, yet small enough to keep body heat. Line the bottom with a plastic bag and place towels or soft blankets over the bag. The bag is there for urine and runny poop. You can have them come out and play but when they start to fall asleep, place them in the nesting box (if you have more than one, always keep them together). Loosely cover the nesting box with a towel or blanket, leaving a small peaking space in one of the corners. They will sleep until they become hungry again. You will know when they alert you with tiny mews!