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Recommended Supplies for Bottle Feeding Kittens

If you are new to bottle feeding kittens, be sure to read our Bottle Feeding Instructions and Tips/Tricks (Coming Soon). Kittens must always be warm before feeding.

Here are our recommendations for what you need to bottle feed a kitten.

Must Have

    • Bottle and Nipple. You can purchase online or locally at stores like Walmart, Tractor Supply, or usually any chain pet store. Fat nipples that come with no pre-cut hole need to be cut on an angle to ensure the best result. Be sure not to cut the hole too large for very tiny kittens. When held upside down, the bottle should drip only one small drop at a time. If the hole is too large, you will need to start over with a new nipple.
      • Miracle nipples are available for purchase online and tend to work great, especially for newborns to three-weeks old. I’ve found that mini-miracle nipples are preferred by most kittens. An older kitten might do best on a fatter or longer nipple. It’s best if you can keep several types on hand as each kitten will have it’s own preference. Typically, the younger, the faster they take to a bottle, especially with the miracle nipple. You can purchase the mini miracle nipple at Revival and Amazon. Some come with syringes. These work good for newborns or preemies. Do not push on the plunger. Let the kitten suck the milk out on it’s own.
  • Kitten Milk Replacer. Kitten formula must be used for orphan kittens. They should NOT be given cow’s milk, human formula, or any other kind of milk. Common brands of kitten formula are KMR, Breeder’s Edge, and Fox Valley. I’ve had good luck starting out with more water than the powdered milk replacer so they can gradually switch from mom’s milk the to the formula. I do one part formula to 8 parts water (for the first 12 hours), then 1 part water to 4 parts formula (for the next 12 hours), and then switch to the directed amount (usually one part water to two or three parts formula). 
  • Heating Source. A heating pad with no auto-shut off works great. Be sure to keep a blanket over the heating pad so that the kittens are not sitting directly on the pad. Also give them a space in their enclosure where there is no heating pad. This is very important so they have space to get off the heat if they get too warm. Even newborn kittens can move around to get on or off the heat source as needed. You can also use a heat disc, rice sock, or hand warmers for when you need to transport the kittens and won’t have access to electricity.
  • Carrier, Container, or Enclosure. A plastic tote without the lid or top-loading cat carrier work well for newborns. A pop-up playpen or plastic panel pen also work great and give kittens more room as they grow. Keeping them enclosed when they are orphans is important for their safety.
  • A blanket. Put this over the heat source and under the kittens. They also like to burrow into extra blankets. We like to surround their enclosure with a bunched up soft blanket. They may knead and suckle on this blanket since they have no momma.

Should Have

  • Scale that weighs in grams. A small kitchen scale like this one usually works best. Weighing kittens in grams is essential because any other measurement would not be specific enough. Kittens should gain about 10 grams a day on average.
  • Baby Wipes. These are perfect for keeping kittens clean after each feeding session, especially to clean up faces, and their back end after stimulating them to go to the bathroom.
  • Gloves. Always make sure your hands are clean before you feed the kittens. If you can, it is best to use gloves as well.
  • Access to Intake Meds. This can dramatically help save the kitten’s life. If you are not working through a shelter or rescue, contact a local veterinarian and see if they would be willing to assist you with a neonatal kitten(s) for the following:
    • De-wormer at 2 weeks old, then every two weeks.
    • Pen-g injection on intake. This has been proven to increase the chance of survival for many orphan kittens.
    • Flea medication/treatment. Even tiny kittens can have a drop or two of flea meds, but is a small risk. However, this might safer for most kittens than trying to bathe them. A bath could make them too cold and cause them to crash. If you feel they are strong enough for a bath or can’t get any flea medication, use a flea comb. Giving a bath should be the last option. Use Dawn dish soap, which will kill the fleas. Create a ring of soap around their neck before you begin the bath to keep the fleas from crawling up into the eyes, nose, and ears. When done, use a hairdryer on a low setting to get them dry and warm as quickly as possible.

Nice to Have

  • Coconut Oil. To clean the kitten’s ears.
  • Slip tip syringes. 1 ml slip tip syringes work great for syringe feeding or giving oral medication to neonatal kittens.
  • Smoothie Blender. This will allow you to puree kitten food for weaning or syringe feeding. The Hamilton Beach Shakes and Smoothies Blender works well to create a smooth consistency for syringe feeding.
  • NutriCal
  • Pet Tinic
  • Pedialyte or Kitten Lyte
  • Gerber Baby Food – Chicken in the jar
  • Colostrum Supplement – Made specifically for kittens. Should be given to any kitten orphaned before 48 hours after birth. Giving this supplement within 24 hours is best.
  • Slip Tip Syringes – 1 mL and 3 mL work great for syringe feeding a sick kitten. 5 mL and 10 mL can be used for giving subQ fluids or tube feeding.
  • Thermometer – A kitten’s temperature should be between 100- 102.5°F.
  • Tube Feeding Kit – Tube with a size of 3.5 Fr works best for tiny newborn babies. 5 Fr and 8 Fr after that.
  • Bottle Brush Cleaner
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Hand Warmers like Hot Hands