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Kitten supplement formula—sometimes referred to as “kitty glop” among breeders or as “cat milk substitute”—is needed when kittens won’t nurse or there is no lactating mother cat available for the kitten to nurse on. It is most often used with orphaned kittens, but if you find yourself with a hungry newborn kitten, you’ll need to know how and what to feed it.

When kittens are born, they are tiny and helpless. Under normal circumstances, this is not a problem because they are cared for and fed by their mothers. Their mother’s milk provides them with all the nutrition they need for the first month of their lives. But challenges may arise that make a mother cat’s milk unavailable

When to make milk for the kitten

  • The mother cat may not survive giving birth.
  • The mother cat, if an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat, may be killed by a car or outside animal.
  • The mother cat may abandon her entire litter.
  • The litter may be too large for the mother to handle on her own.
  • The mother may reject one or more kittens because they are too small or weak.
  • The mother may be sick and/or have post-natal issues.

When a mother’s milk is not available, a kitten will die unless it is fed by a human being. Because they are so tiny, very young kittens don’t have the ability to eat solid food, so they need very specific nutrition to survive their early days.

Kitten formula may also be given to nursing mother cats who require additional nutrition, cats recuperating from an illness, and older cats who need nutritional supplementation or who have difficulty eating because of dental or gum problems.

How Do You Make Your Own Kitten Formula?

A variety of recipes for homemade kitten formula exist, but if you can purchase a kitten-milk replacement from the pet store to use, that is ideal. For times when store-bought milk replacement is not an option, find a recipe that you have all the ingredients for until you can get some milk replacement formula. A homemade kitten replacement formula should not be used for more than 24 hours.

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The following formulas are from The Cornell Book of Cats by the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine:

How to make milk for the kitten

Milk for the kitten : Kitten Replacement Formula #1

  • 1 quart whole goat’s milk
  • 1 teaspoon light Karo syrup
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt (made with goat’s milk preferably)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Unflavored gelatin
    • Newborn to 1 week — 1 package gelatin
    • 2nd week — 1-1/2 to 2 packages gelatin
    • 3rd week — 2-1/2 to 3 packages gelatin
    • 4th week — 4 packages gelatin

Put the goat’s milk in a saucepan and add the proper amount of gelatin based on the kitten’s age. Heat the mixture just until the gelatin is dissolved and then remove it from the heat. Mix in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate. It will keep up to one week in the refrigerator.

Milk for the kitten : Kitten Replacement Formula #2

  • 8 ounces homogenized whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salad oil
  • 1 drop liquid pediatric vitamins (optional)

Mix well and keep refrigerated.

Milk for the kitten : Kitten Replacement Formula #3

  • 1 part boiled water to 5 parts evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon bone meal per 16 ounces fluid

Mix well and keep refrigerated.

Milk for the kitten : Kitten Replacement Formula #4

  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 drop liquid human pediatric vitamins (optional)

Mix the milk, egg yolk, and syrup well and store it in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator. At feeding time, mix half of the estimated feeding amount with an equal amount of boiling water. Once a day, mix one drop of the human infant liquid vitamins in each kitten’s formula portion. 

How Do You Feed a Newborn Kitten?

If you need to bottle feed a kitten, you’ll need to use special baby bottles. Tiny baby bottles with tiny nipples for kittens can be purchased online or in pet stores. These bottles typically hold small amounts of formula so they are easy to handle while also holding a small kitten. If you can’t find a tiny baby bottle, you can also try using a syringe without the needle, especially if the kitten won’t take the bottle readily. Oral syringes can usually be purchased from a pharmacy and used for this purpose.

Heat your homemade or store-bought formula until it is warm and test a few drops of milk on your wrist first. It should feel just a little warm or even cool, not too warm or hot. It is not recommended to use a microwave. Most people put the formula in the bottle or syringe and then place the bottle or syringe into a bowl of hot water to heat it up.

Once the formula passes the skin temperature test, you are ready to feed the kitten. Keep the kitten in a natural feeding position on its belly and offer warm formula every three to four hours until the kitten begins to wean to solid food. Kittens should eat about eight milliliters of formula per ounce of body weight a day.

This means if the kitten weighs four ounces, they should eat about 32 milliliters of formula total in a day, so you can give eight milliliters of formula every four hours.

If constipation occurs, add one drop of vegetable oil to each kitten’s formula no more than once daily until the problem is resolved.


If the kitten is cold, warm her slowly by holding her against your bare skin, which will allow her to absorb your body’s heat (if you are outside, your armpit makes a great incubator). Cold is the greatest danger to kittens. DO NOT submerge the kitten in water or use any method that will warm her temperature too quickly.

Because she is not able to generate her own heat, wrapping the kitten in a blanket or towel is not sufficient. The kitten must get her heat from you. DO NOT feed a cold kitten. Wait until her body heat is approximately 90+ degrees Fahrenheit. See section below regarding feeding instructions.

Make a kitten box. Put a heating pad in a box big enough to accommodate the heating pad and an area that is not covered by the heating pad. Kittens will crawl toward the heat when they are cold and away from the heat when they are warm.

If they do not have an area where they can get away from the heat, they can become dehydrated and die. Turn the heating pad on LOW and cover it with a towel. Never let the kitten lie directly on the pad. Place the box in a warm and draft-free area.

Do not bathe the kitten unless absolutely necessary. If the kitten appears to need a bath, her body temperature must be normal, 90+ degrees Fahrenheit. Flea combing is best if the kitten has fleas. (If the kitten must be bathed, use small amount of Lemon Joy. The citrus kills fleas and is safe for kittens. Flea shampoos are too harsh for kittens.) After towel drying the kitten as much as possible return the kitten to the heating pad. NEVER use a hair dryer.

Supplies you will need for neonatal kittens:

Heating pad Kitten Milk formula or replacement. Hot water bottle (must be wrapped in towel) Feeding bottle and several nipples. Eye dropper or syringe (without needle) Several bath towels for bedding and cleaning kittens Scale for weighing kittens (optional). Rectal thermometer (kittens normal temperature is between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit). Have Emergency Vet Clinic number handy.(Ask if they have experience with orphaned kittens)

Feeding Instructions
KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) or Just Born are the best formulas to feed a neonatal kitten. Do not give a kitten cow’s milk, except in an emergency. If you cannot obtain KMR immediately, use the following emergency recipe for up to 24 hours only. In an emergency, call, a veterinarian, or check a local pet store for kitten formulas. Visit for humane societies in your area.

how to take care new born kitten by the
how to take care new born kitten by the

Emergency Recipe of Milk for the kitten :

  • Make sure you have right utensiles
  • 2/3 cup homogenized whole milk
  • 3 raw egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon corn oil
  • 1 dropper pediatric liquid vitamins

Warm the formula in a nursing bottle or medicine dropper by placing the bottle or dropper into a cup or bowl of hot water. Test the formula on the underside of your wrist to check the temperature. Always be sure to test the formula again before giving it to the kitten.

Place the kitten on her stomach at a 45-degree angle (just as a kitten would nurse from the mother) and let her nurse until she turns her head. Do not hold the kitten’s head back, and do not hold her on her back as you would a human baby, because the kitten could aspirate formula into her lungs. Avoid getting air into the kitten’s tummy by holding the bottle at an angle to keep liquid toward the nipple. Pulling back slightly on the bottle will help trigger the kitten’s sucking reflex.

Never squeeze the bottle to force milk to come out. Do not panic if the kitten does not eat the first day. She may be more accustomed to her mothers’ milk, which is quite rich, and can sustain her for a longer time than replacement formulas. (If she is still not eating after 24 hours, seek veterinary assistance immediately. She may need to be force fed through a tube.

Never attempt tube feeding yourself if you are unfamiliar with this procedure. If done improperly, esophageal or stomach damage, and even death can result.)

Important: After the kitten’s stomach is full, it is necessary to stimulate her to help her eliminate.

A kitten does not have the ability to do this until they are three weeks old. Stimulate by taking a wet, lukewarm, but not hot, washcloth or paper towel and gently massage the anal region in a small circular or back-and-forth motion. You may want to hold kitten over a towel or sink while stimulating her.

Feeding Schedule This is a general guideline. A kitten will eat more often or less often, depending on the kitten. The label on the container of kitten formula you purchased should indicate the recommended amount to feed a kitten according to body weight. If a kitten cries, she is either cold or hungry. A contented kitten sleeps quietly.

Age in Weeks/Feedings per day
1 week old – needs 6 feedings per day
2 weeks old – needs 6 feedings per day
3 weeks old – needs 4 feedings per day
4 weeks old – needs 3 feedings per day

Never overfeed a kitten Some kittens will eat and eat as long as food is offered to them. Follow the instructions and guidelines on the container of kitten formula. When the kitten is three to four weeks old, you can begin weaning the kitten with baby food (GERBER Chicken, Turkey or Beef) or canned kitten food mixed with KMR.