Bottle Feeding a Kitten

Kittens are unable to eat on their own until at least 4-5 weeks of age.  Purchase kitten infant formula such as Just Born or KMR sold at feeds stores, veterinarian offices and sometimes at Walmart.  If after hours, you can go to a 24-hour grocery store and use goat’s milk as a short-term, emergency substitute.  DO NOT feed the kitten cow’s milk.   Feeding can be done with an eyedropper or a nursing bottle (available at the vet, Petco, PetSmart or other pet or feed stores). If using the eyedropper, be careful not to force feed the kitten. Let the baby suck the fluid at its own pace, otherwise you can fill the baby's lungs with milk and cause pneumonia.    Keep the kitten on his belly when feeding – do not put him on his back like a human baby.

If the baby is old enough to suckle, the bottle method is best. These can be purchased usually whereever milk replacer is sold.   One company even makes a special kitten nurser which is designed to keep air bubbles out of the baby's tummy. The company is Catac ($15 to Kitte Res-Q, Dept. C, P.O. Box 723, Santa Paula, Ca 93061).

All utensils should be sterilized before each feeding.

Formula should be warmed to body temperature and fed to small kittens every 3-4 hours. As they get older every 6-8 hours will be enough. Check the package for recommended feeding amounts and feedings per day.  The chart below can also be used as a guideline.   The kitten's age determines the number of daily feedings it should receive.

To feed your kitten, place it on its stomach down on a towel.   Open its mouth gently with the tip of your finger, then slip the nipple between its jaws. To prevent air from entering the kitten's stomach, hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, keeping a light pull on the bottle to encourage vigorous sucking.    Don’t hold the kitten on its back like a baby.

If a suckling kitten aspirates formula into its lungs (this is rare) immediately hold it upside down until the choking subsides. If the kitten is not strong enough to suckle, seek veterinary assistance ASAP.

When a kitten has had enough formula, bubbles will often form around its mouth, and its tummy will be rounded. After each meal, burp the kitten by holding it upright against you shoulder and patting it lightly on the back.

Do not overfeed kittens, as this can bring on diarrhea as well as other problems.

It is very important that after feeding the kitten that you stimulate him to pee and poop.   Take a cotton ball dipped in warm water and rub the rectal area of the kitten going from the base on the tail downward.   A kitten should urinate and defecate at least every 24 hours.   Sometimes, kittens become constipated.   If a kitten has not defecated after 24 hours, slightly water down the formula and give a drop of olive oil in the formula.   You can also seek advise from someone in our network or your vet.    A kitten that has not gone defecated in 36 -40 hours should be taken to the vet. 


Feeding guide

Age in Weeks

Average Weight

Amount of  Formula per DAY

Number of Hours between Feedings


4 oz

32 cc

3 hrs. – 8 feedings per day


7 oz

56 cc

4 hrs –  6-7 feedings per day


10 oz

80 cc

4 hrs –  6 feedings a day


13 oz

104 cc

5 hrs. – 5 feedings a day


1 lb.

128 cc

6 hrs. – 4-5 feedings a day