Kittens are born with special nutritional needs. Ideally, this is not a problem when they are raised by mama cat. However, in some situations, you may end up hand raising a baby kitten. Kitten milk replacement (KMR) formula comes in handy. But in some emergencies you may need a kitten formula substitute.
Young kittens during their early developmental stages do not have teeth. As such, they are unable to eat solid food. Abandoned or orphaned kittens would die if not supplemented with kitten formula. In the absence of a kitten formula, a kitten formula substitute is sufficient.
In addition to feeding kittens, kitten formula substitute can be used on nursing queens, sick cats that need special supplementation or old cats.
When would you need kitten formula or its substitute?
There are several reasons why you may need kitten formula or its substitute including when;
- The litter is too large for the mother cat
- The kittens are unable to nurse
- The mother may abandon one or more kittens if they are too small or weak
- The mama cat may not survive giving birth
- Some mama cats may abandon a whole litter
- The mother cat may be sick or unable to produce sufficient quantities of milk
- If mama cat dies of un–natural causes such as a car accident
Homemade kitten formula substitute
You can easily make a number of kitten formula substitutes at home. These can be made using ingredients available from the grocery store.
Kindly note that homemade kitten formula substitute should not be used for more than 24 hours. This is because the homemade kitten formula substitutes may not be nutritionally complete.
Additionally, some homemade kitten formula substitutes may cause more harm than good. Purchase a good kitten milk replacement (KMR) formula from the pet store or your local veterinarian.
The following recipes were adapted from the Cornell book of cats by the Cornell school of veterinary medicine.
Formula #1; kitten replacement
- 1 quarts of whole goat milk
- 1 teaspoon of non fat plain yoghurt (preferable made from goat milk)
Kittens are lactose intolerant. Cow milk is rich in lactose. It is therefore not recommended to feed kittens on cow milk. Goat milk is therefore favorable for making kitten formula.
- 1 teaspoon of light Karo syrup
- 1 egg yolk
- Unflavored gelatin
Volume of gelatin to be used by age
- Newborn to 1 week – 1 package of gelatin
- 2 weeks – 1 ½ to 2 packages of gelatin
- 3 weeks – 2 ½ to 3 packages of gelatin
- 4 weeks – 4 packages of gelatin
- Add the goat milk to a saucepan
- Add the appropriate amount of gelatin based on your kittens age
- Heat the mixture until all the gelatin dissolves in the milk
- Remove from the heat
- Mix in the remaining ingredients
- Feed as necessary and refrigerate the rest
This formula should only be refrigerated for 1 week. After 1 week discard any remaining formula and prepare again.
This formula is more nutritionally complete than other homemade formulas. It should however not safe to use it for many days if you want your kittens to thrive. Replace it with commercial kitten formula as soon as you can.
Formula #2; kitten replacement
- 8 ounces of homogenized whole milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salad oil
- 1 drop of liquid pediatric multivitamin (optional)
- Pour the homogenized whole milk into a jar
- Add 2 egg yolks to the jar and mix thoroughly
- Add 1 teaspoon of salad oil and 1 drop pediatric multivitamin if available and mix
- Refrigerate to keep fresh
To feed the kittens, warm this formula in a hot water glass bath. Test with your palm to see if warm. If the formula passes the palm test, feed to the kittens as necessary.
This formula should only be refrigerated for 1 – 2 days.
Formula #3; emergency formula
- 1 part boiled water
- 5 parts evaporated milk
- ½ teaspoon of bone meal (per 16 ounces of liquid)
- Pour the ingredients into a jar
- Mix thoroughly
- Refrigerate to keep fresh
Warm this formula before feeding to your kitten. This formula should only be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days to keep fresh for multiple use during the day.
Formula #4; emergency formula
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons of Karo syrup
- 1 drop of pediatric multivitamin (optional)
- Pour 1 can evaporated milk into a jar
- Add 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of Karo syrup into the jar
- Mix well
- If available add 1 drop of pediatric multivitamin and mix well
- Pour into a tightly sealed jar and refrigerate
To feed the kittens, mix equal volume of the formula with boiling water. Test the temperature using your wrist then feed the kitties.
When feeding kittens on any of the above kitten formulas, they may develop constipation. Add 1 drop of vegetable oil to the formula when feeding the kitten once daily until the problem resolves.
How to feed kitten formula and its substitute
Ensure the kitten is warm before feeding him or her. Feel the ears or paws to know if the kitten is cold. A cold kitten would not be able to feed well. If fed, the formula would stagnate in the kitten’s digestive system and may cause the kitten ill. Warm the kitten gradually before attempting to feed them.
Warm the formula in a hot water bath. Leave the formula in the hot water for a couple of minutes until it is warm to touch. Test the temperature of the formula using your wrist. If it passes the wrist test them you can feed the kitten. Never use a microwave as it forms hot spots that could scald the kitten
To feed the kitten, use a milk bottle with a small nozzle. These are easily available in pet stores. Alternatively you can use a needle less syringe or eye dropper to administer the formula. You may have to squeeze the formula into the kitten’s mouth. Some kittens may not be able to suckle the formula from the bottle.
Feed the kitten every 3 hours for the first 2 weeks. This is because kittens need constant care when they are young. Gradually switch to every 4 hours on the third week then every 5 or 6 hours past 4 weeks. You can then start weaning the kitten after 4 weeks by introducing kitten foods.
Kindly note that as you feed the kitten formula, you also need to help the kittens get rid of waste by gently rubbing their behind until they are old enough to use a litter box.