A few years back my daughter found a kitten abandoned in a box in a parking lot. He just looked like a tiny ball of shivering gray and white fluff. The kitten seemed OK and clean at the time, but was obviously in distress and meowing looking for his mom, warmth and food.
Someone had obviously dropped him off in this box in the parking lot figuring someone else would deal with him. Sadly, with no one in sight and no mother cat, she quickly put him and the box in the car and tried to get to the Veterinarian office but it was shut.
Her next step was a pet store, where she talked to the owner and then got a kitten feeding kit, that included tiny bottles, nipples and powdered formula. Sometimes you can get them as a package or you may need to purchase separately, but you can check most large pet supply stores or even Wal-Mart which tends to be open later at night, for the kit to bottle feed kittens in their pet supply department. I have even seen it in larger grocery stores that have a large aisle of pet food and supplies.
You can also get the special kitten food formula in liquid form but it is more expensive and you need to use it up quick. DO NOT FEED THEM COWS MILK, this will make them sick and a tiny kitten needs as close to his mom’s milk as you can get. You need to do this quickly as they need to feed often and can go downhill fast.
If you can get a qualified person such as a Veterinarian to try and approximate the age, you can then figure out how much to give him, but when my daughter stopped and picked up the kit, we had to wing it a bit when it came to the age.
We knew he was much younger than a kitten you would normally bring home, so we feed him at a 3 week old level, and went from there.
How to Bottle Feed a Kitten:
Mix up the formula as per directions on the package, and give the bottles a good clean first. You will need to work quickly.
Each kitten is obviously different, but most don’t like being held to feed which might be your first instinct to do, ours started squirming all over, so maybe try placing him in a basket or somewhere where he is level with the bottle. You will have to work at which position works best for you and the kitten, this is where patience is needed.
Most kittens like to “knead” while they are nursing, so as you can see in the below video this particular kitten wanted to use the sides of the basket. Our kitten was very similar that way. We wrapped him in a soft towel but quickly he took out his front feet and started “kneading” the side of the little box we had him in while he fed and squirmed around a bit, but he got the food which is the most important part.
Feed a Kitten with a Bottle
If he is having trouble sucking on the bottle, then as he is meowing (which he is most likely doing) drop some formula in his mouth. Not a lot, you don’t want him to choke, just enough so he can taste it and starts looking for the source, that is how we got our kitten started on feeding from the bottle.
My daughter followed the package directions and basically feed him every couple of hours until we could get him to the Veterinarian for a checkup the next day. Also make sure to clean him off with a warm damp cloth (but don’t get him too wet or he will get chilled) the same way his mom would have licked him clean. Then keep him warm while he sleeps.
If your kitten is a bit older, but still needs formula, he may be able to go longer between feedings, you will know as he will be quickly looking for more food and once he has fed from the bottle the first time it will get easier. It is easier if you have someone else to help you and take shifts for the feedings if he is really tiny.
Keep him warm – One great tip we received on keeping the kitten warm between feedings was to fill a latex glove or rubber glove with warm water and tie it off and then place under a towel beside him, and this will act as a warm water bottle. It seems to stay warm for a while.
They can get chilled easily, so keep them warm.
It is a rewarding experience to bottle feed a kitten and watch them grow and live a normal life because of you. My daughter still has her cat, he is happy and healthy. He gets a clean bill of health every time he has his checkup. The Veterinarian figures he was approximately 3 weeks old when we got him and it was very lucky my daughter heard his cries or she may have walked right by the box that day.
Unfortunately, many kittens are abandoned and don’t make it, either by people who are thoughtless and cruel or feral cats that get sick or killed, so if you do find one or more and can’t get it to a shelter or a veterinarian right away then get a kitten feeding kit.
They are not expensive, and have everything you need to get started right away. A friend of mine keeps a kit handy as she has a farm and sometimes she will find abandoned barn kittens and takes care of them.
Keep him alive with nutrition and warmth and touch and you just might get adopted by him rather than the other way around.