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You may have found a litter of newborn kittens outside. Or maybe you signed up to care for abandoned kittens at your local animal shelter. In any case, bottle-feeding kittens can be very difficult.
What Milk To Feed Newborn Kittens
That’s why we worked with Stephen Quandt, a certified fearless cat behavior consultant, to create this five-step guide to feeding kittens. We also discuss weaning orphaned kittens and common bottle-feeding problems.
What To Feed Kittens That Are Only A Few Weeks Old?
“If the kittens are less than 10 days old or have their eyes closed, it is better to use a syringe,” says Quandt. If your newborn kitten doesn’t want to nurse, a kitten bottle won’t work. Why? “Newborn kittens need to expand at the tip,” he says. “The syringe allows you to deliver food directly into the kitten’s mouth.”
Quandt recommends attaching a miracle nipple to the end of a 3-milliliter syringe. It has an opening just the right size for newborn kittens and prevents milk from entering the lungs. The Miracle Nipple also comes with a pad that allows newborn kittens to knead while feeding.
If your kitten is more than two weeks old, you can buy kitten feeding bottles online or at any pet store. Unlike human baby bottles, the nipples of kitten bottles usually do not have holes. To bottle-feed your kitten, you need to cut a small hole in the teat. When turned upside down, the milk should slowly leak out, not spill out of it.
Don’t know how old your kitten is? Below you will find a detailed guide to the age of kittens. It covers developmental milestones for kittens from birth to 8 weeks of age.
How To Feed And Care For Orphaned Kittens
You will need to purchase kitten formula such as KMR. “Don’t buy milk for cats,” says Quandt. “It’s actually an addition to treats for adult cats.”
If your kitten is less than 48 hours old, you will also need to purchase an important immune system builder called Feline Colostrum. Provides water, digestive enzymes, growth factors, nutrients and maternal immunoglobulins. All of this is essential for the survival of newborn kittens. “Without colostrum, newborn kittens may have health problems in the future,” he says.
When it comes to milk for kittens, there is nothing in your fridge that is safe for them to drink. “Almond milk, soy milk and cow milk do not have adequate nutritional requirements,” says Quandt. “Cow’s milk contains a lot of lactose, which kittens usually do not tolerate. It also causes them to have terrible diarrhea. This means they cannot absorb the nutrients in it.”
Once you have opened the kitten recipe, store it in the refrigerator. To prepare milk for kittens, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
How To Bottle Feed A Newborn Kitten
“If you use powdered kitten milk, make sure it is mixed well. If there are lumps of kitten milk in the bottle or syringe, the kitten will not get enough milk, says Quandt. Use a blender or smoothie shaker. Use a pinch of warm water and shake the kitten bottle vigorously.
To make sure the kitten milk isn’t too hot, spray a few drops on your wrist. Your kitten’s milk should be warm, but you shouldn’t grimace or say, “Wow, it’s warm!”
Before bottle-feeding your kitten, check its condition and temperament. “Kittens cannot thermoregulate, which means they cannot maintain their own body temperature,” Quandt says. When newborn kittens do not have enough warmth, they are unable to digest food.
If your kitten’s body temperature is not between 99-101°F (or 37.2-38.3°C), it is not safe to feed it. Is your kitten less than 5 weeks old? Use a kitten incubator or place newborn or abandoned kittens in a soft bed with a heating pad on a low setting. Then cover the heating pad and the top of the bed with a towel. For your kitten to swallow, place a drop of milk on its tongue and touch its throat with your finger. If your kitten swallows it, you can bottle-feed it.
How Much Milk Does A Newborn Kitten Need Hotsell
The correct way to feed newborn kittens is to lay them on their stomachs. Never feed them on their back like a human baby. If you are feeding a newborn kitten with a syringe, use your dominant hand. You should use your non-dominant hand to hold your kitten in a natural, belly-down position. “To make sure your kitten is swallowing, gently place your finger on the front of the throat,” says Quandt. If you are using a kitten bottle, gently place the teat into your kitten’s mouth. Then turn the bottle upside down to let the milk flow out. The bottle or syringe should be under the kitten’s incisors (front teeth). “In some cases, kittens may prefer to feed from the side, but feed them slowly to be sure they swallow,” says Quandt. “It’s not a completely natural position. If milk bubbles from the nose or mouth, it is bad.” CAT WEIGHT AND FEEDING GUIDE
Use the Kitten Weight and Feeding Chart to find out how often to feed your kitten and how much it should weigh.
When you bottle feed kittens, they have their mouths full of milk. This may cause crusting or hot spots to appear on their face (acute moist dermatitis). After bottle-feeding your kitten, clean your face with a baby wipe or a warm, damp cloth. You also need to stimulate your kitten to poop or pee. “You can wear latex or nitrile gloves,” Quandt says. “Use a warm, wet paper towel or wipe to gently rub your kitten’s penis or vagina.”
Both solitary kittens and orphaned kittens can be clingy. The main socialization window for kittens is between 4 and 8 weeks of age. “If you socialize lonely or orphaned kittens with a person at this critical stage of development, they may become afraid of other people as they grow up,” says Quandt.
Postnatal Care Of A Mother Cat And Her Newborn Kittens
“In the wild, female cats want to wean their newborn kittens as early as possible. When it comes to calories, milk production (or lactation) takes a terrible toll on her. The kitten wants to gain weight and grow, but the cat wants it to be over,” says Quandt. “That said, you should start feeding your kittens a slurry feed at 4 weeks of age. Mix commercially available wet kitten food with kitten milk until it looks like a milkshake.
Kittens can start eating dry cat food at 3-4 weeks of age, writes Dr. Kathy Gross, global director of research and development at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. However, 95% of your daily calories should come from kitten milk. When kittens are 5-6 weeks old, 30% of the diet can be solid food and the rest should be kitten milk.
“Kittens can start eating dry cat food when they want wet cat food that is no longer diluted with water,” adds Quandt. “They are usually 4 to 6 weeks old.”
“Newborn kittens get all the water they need from kitten milk,” says Quandt. Between weeks four and six, gradually introduce kittens to wet cat food mixed with water. You can let them feed from a shallow cat bowl. If you don’t keep an eye on your kittens as they are weaned, they may accumulate sediment too quickly. Don’t stick their faces in the mud. This may result in inhalation of the mixture and the development of aspiration pneumonia. “When your kitten eats dry cat food or wet food without water, offer him a separate water bowl,” he advises.
Caring For Kittens From Birth To Eight Weeks
Use a postal or kitchen scale to weigh newborn kittens after each meal or at least once a day. A healthy kitten should gain 10 to 15 grams a day. If your kitten is losing weight, it may have worms, a food allergy, or exploding red blood cells (neonatal isoerythrolysis).
Birth weight varies depending on the breed and gender of the cat. For example, newborn male kittens usually weigh more than female kittens. Generally speaking, newborn kittens should weigh between 80 and 140 grams. Although they can lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first 24 hours of life, they should gain 10-15 grams each day. Newborn kittens should also triple their birth weight by 3 weeks of age.
Cross-sucking occurs when newborn kittens suck on the bodies of their siblings. Orphaned male kittens that are weaned too early are most likely to engage in cross-feeding. It can cause injuries to kittens, sometimes so severe that they require euthanasia. Cross-feeding may mean that your kitten is depressed or in poor health.
Is my newborn kitten a boy or a girl? How do I know if my kitten is happy? What is the most difficult age for kittens?
Bottle Feeding Kittens: Everything You Need To Know • Heartbeet Kitchen
Stephen Quandt is a fearless cat behavior advisor and consultant at Animal Cares Centers in New York. It is one of the largest no-kill animal shelters in the United States. Quandt (@CatBehaviorHelp) provides compassionate, expert and non-judgmental advice to people with cat behavior problems.
He hosts 2 FREE webinars titled Why Cats Do What They Do and Decoding Cat Secrets. They are open to the public, shelters, rescues, veterinary offices, businesses and international cat organizations. Register below.
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