How to Bottle Feed a Kitten That Won’t Eat


Bottle feeding a kitten can be a challenging task, especially when they refuse to eat. Whether you are dealing with a newborn kitten or a rescued one, it is important to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients for their growth and development. In this article, we will discuss helpful tips and techniques on how to bottle feed a kitten that won’t eat, ensuring their well-being and health.

Understanding the Situation

Before diving into the solutions, it is essential to understand why a kitten might refuse to eat. There can be several reasons behind this behavior, such as illness, stress, or a change in environment. It is crucial to observe the kitten’s overall behavior and consult a veterinarian if the refusal to eat persists for an extended period.

Creating the Right Environment

A calm and comfortable environment is essential for a kitten to feel safe and secure during feeding. Here are a few steps you can take to create the right environment:

1. Find a quiet and warm space: Choose a quiet room where you can feed the kitten without distractions. Ensure the room is warm, as kittens are sensitive to temperature changes.

2. Use a comfortable feeding area: Create a cozy space for the kitten to sit or lie down while feeding. Use a soft blanket or towel to make it comfortable for them.

Choosing the Right Formula

When it comes to bottle feeding a kitten, choosing the right formula is crucial. Consult with a veterinarian to determine the best formula for the kitten’s age and health condition. Do not use cow’s milk as it can cause digestive upset in kittens. Here are a few options to consider:

1. Kitten milk replacement formula: This formula is specifically designed for kittens and provides the necessary nutrients for their growth. It is available in both powdered and liquid forms.

2. Goat’s milk: Some kittens may tolerate goat’s milk better than cow’s milk. It is essential to dilute it properly before feeding.

3. Human baby formula: In some cases, a veterinarian may recommend using a human baby formula as a temporary solution. However, this should only be done under veterinary guidance.

Feeding Techniques

When bottle feeding a kitten, it is important to follow the proper techniques to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Here are some tips to help you with the feeding process:

1. Positioning: Hold the kitten in an upright position, similar to how a mother cat would hold them. Tilt the bottle slightly downward to allow the formula to flow smoothly.

2. Feeding frequency: Newborn kittens require feeding every 2-3 hours, while older kittens can be fed every 4-6 hours. Follow a consistent feeding schedule to establish a routine.

3. Feeding amount: Start with small amounts of formula and gradually increase as the kitten grows. Avoid overfeeding, as it can lead to digestive issues.

4. Bottle hygiene: Ensure the bottle and nipple are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized before each feeding to prevent the risk of infection.

Seeking Veterinary Assistance

If a kitten continues to refuse food or shows signs of illness, it is crucial to seek veterinary assistance. A veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination and provide appropriate treatment if necessary. Do not hesitate to reach out for professional help to ensure the kitten’s well-being.

Common Challenges and Solutions

  • 1. Kitten refuses the bottle: If the kitten refuses the bottle, try using a different nipple or warming the formula slightly. Gently stroke the kitten’s cheek to encourage them to open their mouth.
  • 2. Kitten spits out the formula: Some kittens may spit out the formula due to inexperience or a sensitive gag reflex. Offer smaller amounts and give them time to adjust to the feeding process.
  • 3. Kitten is constipated: If a kitten experiences constipation, gently massage their abdomen or use a warm damp cloth to stimulate bowel movements. Consult a veterinarian if the issue persists.
  • 4. Kitten has diarrhea: Diarrhea can be a sign of an underlying health issue or an incorrect formula. Consult a veterinarian to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
  • 5. Kitten doesn’t gain weight: If a kitten is not gaining weight despite regular feeding, consult a veterinarian for a thorough evaluation. It could be a sign of an underlying health problem.
  • 6. Transitioning to solid food: As the kitten grows, it is important to gradually transition them to solid food. Consult a veterinarian for guidance on introducing solids into their diet.


Q: How long can a kitten go without eating?

A: Kittens should not go more than 24 hours without eating. If a kitten refuses food for an extended period, it is essential to seek veterinary assistance.

Q: Can I feed a kitten with a syringe?

A: It is not recommended to feed a kitten with a syringe unless advised by a veterinarian. Bottle feeding is generally safer and allows for better control of the feeding process.

Q: Is it normal for a kitten to spit up after feeding?

A: Some kittens may spit up a small amount of formula after feeding, which is normal. However, if the spitting up is excessive or accompanied by other symptoms, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.

Q: How can I tell if a kitten is dehydrated?

A: Signs of dehydration in kittens include dry gums, sunken eyes, lethargy, and loss of skin elasticity. If you suspect dehydration, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Q: Can I feed a kitten regular cow’s milk?

A: No, cow’s milk can cause digestive upset in kittens and should be avoided. Use a kitten milk replacement formula or consult a veterinarian for suitable alternatives.

Q: When can I start weaning a kitten off the bottle?

A: Kittens can start the weaning process around 4-5 weeks of age. Introduce wet food mixed with formula and gradually decrease the bottle feedings. Consult a veterinarian for proper guidance.

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