Like most mammals, kittens are totally dependent on their mother for food, warmth and care. The mother cat makes sure that her kitties are clean, safe in their nest, protected against physical threats and fed on time. If you are taking care of kittens in the absence of their mother or want to feed a young kitty whose mom does not produce enough milk, here are tips on how to prepare kitten formula and make sure that the little ones are safe and comfy:
Use a milk replacement.
Your veterinarian or pet supply store will be able to help you find a good milk replacement product for kittens. These usually come in powder or liquid form. Powder kitten formula can be mixed with warm water or heated to just the right temperature (around 99 to 101 degrees Fahrenheit) and fed to the young cat. If you prefer a more convenient formula that is easy to prepare, you might want to stick with a liquid formula.
When choosing a kitten formula, always check the label to ensue that it is formulated for use for your young cats. Check the recommended age range for the product as well and make sure that the formula is still fresh. Feeding very young kittens with milk formula that is way past the expiry date can have potentially problematic health consequences.
Replacing kitten milk replacement
In the absence of a good kitten formula, it is possible to prepare a substitute using canned goat’s milk. There are many recipes available that you can use. A common homemade formula usually includes goat’s milk (or canned evaporated milk), diluted Pedialyte, gelatin, acidophilus and some kitten vitamins. Ask your vet for advice on how to prepare the formula to suit the needs of your cat.
Is cow’s milk a good option?
In an emergency where there is nothing else, cow’s milk can be used in place of the milk component of a kitten formula. However, it is not recommended for long-term use because it does not contain the kind of nutrients that young cats need and may even cause diarrhea in sensitive kittens. Goat’s milk is much more nutritious as a base and will not upset the animal’s digestive system too much. If you must use cow’s milk, do so with slightly older cats and add a little acidophilus to aid in proper digestion. Test a small amount first before feeding the rest to the cat.
Tools you need
You could use a small dropper or syringe (with the needle attachment removed) to administer the formula by mouth. You will also need a towel (to keep the kitten warm) and some tissues to wipe off any excess. If you are caring for orphaned newborns, keep in mind that after feeding, you may have to assist the young ones in eliminating. Using a tissue, wipe the kitten’s back repeatedly until it turns up its bottom. You may then wipe the bottom to encourage the kitty to urinate or defecate. Provided you have the right tools and use gentle, light movements, you and your kitty should be just fine.
How much milk does a kitten need?
One thing to remember about feeding little cats is that it is better to underfeed than overfeed them. Make sure the hole in the nipple is just enough to allow a steady flow of milk. Keep in mind that young kittens have small throats. If the milk flow is too strong, it will come out of the kitten’s nose and cause it to gag. When feeding, make sure the cat is on its stomach and is warm enough to feel comfortable so it can start to feed.