HOW AND WHAT TO FEED KITTENS
Kittens have very specific dietary needs. Therefore it is important to feed them nutrient rich formulas at regular and specific intervals. See recipes and feeding schedules below for feeding at home.
Keep all 4 formulas mixed well and kept in tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator. Mix 1/2 of the estimated feeding amount with one part boiling water. Also mix 1 drop of human infant liquid vitamins in each kitten's formula. If the kitten(s) become constipated add 1 drop of vegetable oil each kitten's formula once per day. Formula should be served at room temperature or a little warmer. See the feeding schedule
NURSING FOSTER CATS
My kitty, Phoebe, delivered 6 kittens, 4 days ago. All during the delivery, phoebe'smother worked away licking and taking care of Phoebe and the new kittens. This morning, I noticed all the kittens gathered around "grandma". They were nursing. Is this common for another female cat, who has not been spayed, to help her offspring with a new litter, even nursing them? I actually squeezed a nipple to make sure that she had milk and she does. Could this actually harm the kittens? Please put my worries to rest. Susie
What you have is a very caring 'grandma.' This is wonderful how themother cat has been so attentive. The kittens will be just fine with her milk. In fact, many orphan cats are placed into foster care with lactating female cats to get the nutrients they need. Keep me posted,Simba
My cat is pregnant. I am not sure how far along, although I am guessing she is close to 2 months. My neighbor recently found an abandoned 1-week-old kitten. So my question to you is can my cat who is pregnant produce milk to feed this kitten? She is taking care of the baby but is she feeding the baby? Sloane
That is a new one! Mother cat is probably lactating and the kitten is likely stimulating her to feed. At the same time, you should closely monitor the kitten so as to ensure he is eating and gaining weight. Offer him formula to ensure he has access to food.
Probably the best thing for momma cat and the little guy is to find him a foster mother who has already given birth and is actively nursing. This will put less stress on your expecting mother and may also help out your friend, as I am not sure how the kitten will react to and interact with the just born kittens. Simba
Weeks 1-5: Kitten Feeding Schedule
I recently found a small kitten (approx. 4-weeks-old). I am not quite sure what to do with him. The only way he will eat is out of a bottle. I am in school, so no one is able to be here with him during the day. I do not want him to go hungry! Could you please help? -Jordyn
Your kitten's feeding needs are directly correlated with his age. The table below shows a good kitten feeding schedule:
Because some formulas may have varying nutritional content, be sure to follow the directions written on the package. As a general rule a kitten should have about 8cc's of formula per ounce of body weight per day. If your kitten is not eating enough at each feeding make sure you increase the frequency. Note that if the kitten takes in formula to its lungs, hold it upside down until the choking subsides.
If the kitten is too young for you to take care of talk to your vet about foster care programs. Also, click here to find listings of no-kill shelters. Check out Newborn Kitten Care additional tips. Your Pal - Simba
PS Here is a handy conversion chart Conversion Chart. Remember that the figures above are LIQUID ounces.
We kept one kitten from our female's litter. We found out that she was not getting Momma's milk when nursing and bottled fed her. This was when she was about 4-weeks-old. While the other babies were here she learned to eat regular kitten food, both canned and moistened dry food. She was very playful, happy and gaining weight. Her brother and sisters have been gone for one week and she has begun to nurse on her momma again and now refuses to eat kitty food. She has stopped being playful with my other cats. What should I do? Concerned kitty lover.
Dear Concerned kitty lover
The most important thing for your kitten is that she gets the nutrition she needs. You can monitor this through her weight and energy. Your kitten will naturally re-migrate to kitten chow, since mom will soon stop nursing her. Be sure to keep fresh food and water available to her. Give the little gal some time, she should be ok. Your Pal, Simba
Weeks 1 to 5: Kitten Not Eating?
Yesterday I found a little kitten. he is probably about 4-weeks-old, and I am trying to feed him a special Kitten Milk Replacer I got from my vet, but he is very reluctant to suckle, he wonders around a lot When not in his cage and meows pitifully, but when I offer him the teat he wont take it unless I manually put it in his mouth, and then he does not suckle very long. His stools are also a bit runny and he seems to want to throw up sometimes. What can I do to get him to drink, and make him more comfortable? And at what age should I give him solids and expect him to lap instead of use a bottle? Concerned
You are a good person for rescuing the little baby kitten. It is ok for the little guy to be reluctant to suckle. So what to do?
Thanks Simba! my kitty now eats like a pig, and takes special delight in deciding to wake up and call me at 7am on days I am allowed to sleep in and/or just as I myself sit down to dinner :).... Glad to hear the kitten is doing well. Thanks for the note. Simba
Hello Simba -
We have a new kitten, 6-weeks-old...she is not seem eating. We have had her for a week, she acts normal, is very playful, but is getting thin; when we first picked her up she felt taut. The people from who we got her gave us some of the canned and dry food they had been mixing for her. We fed her these mixed and separate, and she just picked at it, and would vomit anything that she ate; which was very little. We leave food on her dish when we leave for work in the morning, and the same amount is there when we return 8 hours later. We have tried dried cat food, which she will not eat at all. We tried soft food, which she would not touch until we added some canned-type food or chicken, which she then eats in quickly; but later throws up.
We took her to the vet today, and he did not find anything wrong with her, but he tell us to get her to eat; no matter what it took. Thoughts? We both work during the day. Is all this vomiting normal for a 6 week-old kitten? -Ian
Vomiting is not normal, ever. It is possible that the poor thing is nervous, it is also possible that she may be too active following meals and is not able to digest her food. Examine area of the home where you feed her. Noise and high traffic might disturb the little thing.
Because her eating is critical, you may want to consider feeding her nutrient rich kitten formula to ensure she is getting the nutrition she needs (see my letter to Jordyn). Try also feeding her a can of tuna or tuna-flavored kitten food, I have yet to meet a cat that does not devour the stuff. If she continues to throw up, see your vet again or get a second opinion. Time is of the essence here. Continue to be very warm and kind with her. If this is a case of nervousness, her bonding with you will help her out. If it persists go to your vet. Simba
Weeks 6 to 8: Weaning Kitten
My name is Mollyand I am 5-weeks-old. I have been with my new family for 10 days. How much should I weigh and how fast should I gain weight? I am 15 ounces. right now. Also, what is the easiest way to get my parents to help me switch from milk replacement to plain kitten chow. Molly
How very wonderful you have found a good home! Here are some tips on moving from milk replacement formula to dry food.
Weaning (at 5-6 weeks)
As for your weight, use the following formula, add in the 2-4 ounces you weighed at birth to 4 ounces per week. Thus at 5 weeks you should weigh somewhere around 22 ounces (check out our ideal kitten weight by age guide). This can vary significantly. So keep on truckin’ there Molly. Be sure that you are taken to the vet for a check up and vaccines and that you continue to gain weight and grow. Keep me posted. Simba
We have 4 kittens that are 8-weeks-old. We have started weaning them about 2-3 weeks ago with Gerber baby food and kitten formulas. While they show interest in solid foods, but they would rather nurse than eat solid foods. We are having problems making the transition. The mother cat is starting to show signs of exhaustion and she is losing weight from supporting them. We want to find the kittens good homes, but we need to wean them effectively. Richard
Many times, weaning is the mother cat's responsibility. When the kittens are 4-5 weeks of age, mom will begin to refuse nursing. This encourages the kittens to eat solid foods. As part of the process, mom will resume nursing them periodically. In a few weeks, the kittens should be completely weaned.
It is understandable that your kittens want to resist weaning. Try placing warm kitten formula alone, in a dish for them. Slowly place foods that add texture, progressing to tuna. Kittens and cats all love tuna and I have found this to be one of the more effective foods in weaning. As a final step you may want to physically separate the kittens from mom cat. This will not only give mom a break but will also help break the kittens' dependence. Keep an eye on mom and take her to the vet if become concerned for her health. Let me know how things go. Simba
I have a 8-week-old kitty named Bailey. He does not seem to be eating enough. I feed him in the morning and there is still food in the afternoon. He seems to be healthy, he eats and he plays and sleeps like a normal kitty. What should I do? -Regina
Bailey is just fine. Remember that he is an infant, his appetite will reflect that. The following feeding tips might work for you:
water consumption by Kittens
I have a new kitten 6-weeks-old and she is eating canned kitten food very well (and some solid food too). I am concerned that she is not drinking enough water. By not enough I mean almost no water. Should I put her on formula or will she eventually migrate to the water
It seems that your kitten may be getting most of the needed water from the moist canned food. In fact moist canned foods usually have a water level >75%. Research has shown that cats can actually live for pretty long period of time without drinking water when they eat food that is >66% water.
Cats get dehydrated only when their food’s water level drops below that (assuming they do not have other access to drinking water). So if you are feeding your kitten moist food with high water content she is doing ok. She will seek out the water if she needs it.
The important thing is to continue to make water available always. Also, be sure to monitor her water consumption more closely should you decide to move her to a dry food diet, which at ~8% has a much lower water content than moist food.
Also, below is a quick dehydration test you can use if you are concerned
A good way to make sure your cat is consuming the right amount of water is to test her for dehydration. The test is pretty simple. If you pull your skin you will notice that is snaps right back down. This snapping is skin turgor. If your cat’s skin has good turgor your kitten is well hydrated.
If despite the note you want her to drink more water I have another tip. Put a little bit of canned tuna juice in a water bowl. You will see her go crazy over the water bowl. Simba.
Older Kitten: Food Amount
I have a 4-month-old male kitten. He eats an entire 3 ounce can of Nutro Kitten Food at 5AM and again at 3PM, plus 1 1/2 ounces at 8 PM. I also leave a 1/2 scoop of dry food out during the day, which he barely touches. Is he getting enough food? The vet said not to give him more wet food because he needs the dry food for his teeth. Should I be mixing the two foods? I never see him drink water (the bowl is filled with fresh water). He urinates regularly. Is he getting enough fluid from his wet food? He sounds dry to me, like he is smacking his mouth. Chloe
It seems your little guy is getting more than enough food. At his age, he should be eating about 6 ounces of something like Healthy Development Dry Kitten. Check out the notes on water and on transitioning foods for information on your other questions. Simba
My name is Pickle, and I am a very tiny kitten. I was adopted by my new mommy 1 week ago, and I got very sick and had to go to the hospital for Diarrhea in Cats & Kittens, sneezing and vomiting but I am ok now. Mommy wants to know how much to feed me every day so I can grow big and strong but not too fat. I weigh less than one pound now - the Shelter people think I am probably nearing 8-weeks-old but since I was found in a shed with no kitty mommy, they do not know for sure. My vet thinks I am younger. -Pickle "Trouble" Martin
Good to hear you are feeling better. Right now is the time of your most rapid growth. In fact, research shows that by the time you are 20-weeks-old you might have grown 2000% from your original birth weight.
During these first six months I recommend that your mommy feed you 2 to 3 times a day. Given your age of 8 weeks you should be completely weaned and comfortable eating dry or wet food. I am partial to dry for the general dental benefits and recommend using warm water to help make your dry food softer (at first).
Once you reach 6 months of age, you should be fed twice a day if you are on a canned, soft-moist, or moistened dry food diet. I believe that dry food is better because it can be left out for you without danger of it spoiling. It is generally worthwhile to use the amounts recommended on the packages of the food you have. However, be sure to use it as a guide and have your mommy adjust it as necessary. So in answer to your question, if your mommy sees you getting fat, have her cut back a little bit. However, be aware that if you are well exercised you might need more food.
Your Pal, Simba
Dear Simba, I have just got a kitten, she is 7-weeks-old. She will not eat canned kitten food. All she will eat is Tuna. I have tried mixing the tuna with the kitten food but she just picks out the Tuna and leaves the rest. She will eat biscuits but not much. She is not skinny at all, she seems to be a healthy weight. How do I feed her a balanced diet if all she will eat is Tuna? Concerned
Tuna is a very good part of a balanced diet. Kittens require a lot of protein & tuna has a lot of protein. However, Tuna does not supply all of the minerals & vitamins your kitten needs.
Your kitten's aversion to the canned kitten food may be due to its consistency and taste and/or to it being introduced too rapidly. Try tuna-flavor canned kitten food or make it yourself by mixing (3/4 tuna 1/4 kitten, food at first). Reduce the proportion of tuna to kitten food slowly over 4-5 days. If your kitten succeeds in separating the two, place the food mixture in a blender for a few seconds, put it back on the plate and feed it to him again (this approach should make it next to impossible for kitty to separate the tuna from the kitten food). Also, be sure you leave fresh water out for kitty 24/7. Simba
I have three, 5-week-old kittens. I recently started to wean them. All is going well except that the two male kittens will not eat off a plate or bowl, they will only eat off a spoon! The female kitten will eat off a plate. Have you any tips on how to get the two male kittens to eat off a plate like the female? Gemma
Congratulations on the new kittens! As to changing this behavior, it is simple. Stop using the spoon. Hunger is a fantastic motivator and you will find your little angels eating from the plate in short time if you make food available only through the plate.
If you are not keen on stopping the spoon feeding, use the spoon, but have it close to the plates. Let the cats associate the spoon with the plate, get closer to the plate every time and then leave the spoon on the plate unattended. Your guys will pick it up from there. Keep me posted. Simba
My name is Kit-Kat and I am a 7-week-old kitten. My mommy rescued me from a empty house at the end of our street and I was tiny and very small.
At first my Daddy did not want to keep me because my human sister had allergies (she is fine now). I am growing bigger and stronger every day and play like any other kitten would.
However, I have this strange dislike for chicken. My mommy wants me to eat chicken so that I will not be a picky eater when I grow up, but personally I think that I would rather starve then eat that darn chicken. I do not think that I would want to be a picky eater when I grow up. please help!!! Kit-Kat
Dear Kit-Kat, Congratulations on finding a loving home. You are a very lucky kitten. As to the chicken. At 7 weeks of age you are just a little one and need the vitamins and nutrients of Kitten Food. A little bit of chicken cannot hurt, but chicken by itself should not be the basis of your meals. You can even ask for some that has chicken flavor on it! Let me know how it goes. Your Pal, Simba
Healthy Weight Gain in Kitten
Dear Simba, How do I know if my just born kittens are getting enough nutrition from momma? J
Kittens should gain Ѕ ounce every day for their first couple of weeks. A good way to monitor their health is to weigh them daily. Use a small kitchen scale, be sure to use a blanket or cloth so as not to make it too cold for the little ones. Weight loss is a bad, thing so supplement their feeding if you see low growth. If your kitten begins to lose weight go to the vet, as there may be more serious factors at play. Simba
Nursing Alternatives for Kittens
Can a Dog nurse a Cat? I have seen on TV how sometimes a tiger will nurse a puppy and other stuff like that. I was wondering if it worked with dogs and cats. - MixedUp
Though it is not the norm there have been plenty of instances where a dog has nursed a cat. The ideal situation is one in which the mother cat nurses and cares for her kittens. The second best is when you can find a foster momma cat to nurse the kittens. These are usually lactating mothers, though it is not unusual for a non-lactating female cat to begin lactating after adopting a kitten. After that comes formula But as to whether a dog can nurse a cat, the answer is yes. Usually this happens when a lactating mother dog adopts a kitten or litter of kittens and cares for them as their own. Although I strongly recommend to folks that they find a feline alternative, a dog may work well. As a matter of fact, I recently received a touching note from Regina telling me about how her dog Kaylee nursed an abandoned kitten back to health. Check it out here with pictures. Your Pal, Simba
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