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To feed your kitten, use a dropper, syringe, doll’s bottle or ideally, a specifically designed nursing bottle, available from most grocery and pet stores.
If you are using a bottle, the size of the hole in the nipple is critical for success. If the bottle is turned upside down and formula dribbles from the nipple, the hole is too large.
Use of this nipple may cause choking and formula ending up in your kitten’s lungs. If the bottle is turned upside down and formula comes out only after considerable squeezing of the bottle, the hole is too small. Use of this nipple will result in your kitten becoming discouraged and refusing to nurse.
The hole is the proper size if the bottle is turned upside down and formula drips slowly from the nipple.
The nipples supplied with a nurser bottle or kits are not pierced. To pierce the nipple, wet it thoroughly inside and out with the boiled, cooled water and then heat a small pin or needle in a flame until it glows red.
Quickly pierce the top of the nipple and remove the pin. Test the flow of the bottle and repeat the process if the hole is too small. Rinse the nipple thoroughly with more boiled cooled water, making sure to squeeze some water through the hole.
Warm the formula to body temperature – about 100oF. Do this placing the bottle or dropper into a cup or bowl of hot water or by removing the nipple and warming in the microwave for a few seconds. Shake the bottle well after warming to make sure there are no hot spots in the formula and check the temperature.
Test the formula on the underside of your wrist to check the temperature. If it feels too warm or too cold on your wrist, it will feel the same for the kitten. If the formula is too hot, wait until the formula cools down. If the formula is too cold, continue soaking the bottle or dropper in hot water. Always be sure to test the formula again before giving it to the kitten.
Never re-use formula that you have warmed. Discard it and use fresh formula for each feed.
Place your kitten on it’s tummy on a soft surface such as a blanket or towel and gently place the nipple into his mouth.
Do not hold the kitten’s head back, and do not hold him on his back as you would a human baby, because the kitten could aspirate formula into his lungs. Tilt the bottle up slightly so the nipple is full of milk. He should automatically begin sucking. If he refuses to take the nipple, place a little dab of Karo syrup on his tongue to stimulate his sucking response.
Pulling back slightly on the bottle will help trigger the kitten’s sucking reflex. Never squeeze formula into his mouth as this can cause choking.
Do not panic if the kitten does not eat the first day. He may be more accustomed to his mothers’ milk, which is quite rich, and can sustain him for a longer time than replacement formulas.
(If he is still not eating after 24 hours, seek veterinary assistance immediately. He 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.)
Allow the kitten to drink the homemade kitteformula until his tummy is slightly larger but not swollen. After the kitten’s stomach is full, it is necessary to stimulate him to help his 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. In addition, gently massage the kitten’s tummy to help release excess gas and improve digestion.
Never overfeed a kitten. Some kittens will eat and eat as long as food is offered to them. When the kitten is three to four weeks old, you can begin weaning the kitten with baby food or canned kitten food mixed with Kitten Milk Replacer.
Kittens should be weighed on a kitchen scale each day and their weight recorded in order to make sure they are gaining. Consult a veterinarian if the kittens fail to gain weight, have diarrhea, continually vomit or sneeze.