When Should You Give Newborn Kittens Food?

Newborn Kitten Care, How Do I Feed a Newborn Kitten?, What Do Kittens Eat Besides Milk? , How Often Should a Kitten Eat? ,

The following is a general eating schedule for newborns and young cats: Newborn kittens may nurse about every 1-2 hours. At about three to four weeks old, they can be offered milk replacer from a bowl and then small amounts of moistened kitten food four to six times a day.


During the first few weeks of life, a kitten’s primary concerns are feeding, keeping warm, developing social skills and learning how to excrete on his own. In most cases, humans will simply watch the mother catperform her duties. However, if the kitten in your care has been separated from his mother or if the mother cat has rejected her young or cannot produce enough milk, caring for him is up to you.

How Do I Feed a Newborn Kitten?

A mother cat’s milk provides everything a kitten needs during the first four weeks of life. If you have newborn kittens who’ve been separated from their mother, consult with a veterinarian, shelter or experienced foster care giver who can help you find a new mother cat with a small litter-she may be able to nurse the orphaned babies. If you cannot find a foster mother, please consult with your veterinarian about the proper way to bottle-feed with a commercial milk replacer. Please do not offer regular cow’s milk to cats of any age. It is not easily digestible and can cause diarrhea.

What Do Kittens Eat Besides Milk?

When the orphaned kittens are three to four weeks old, begin to offer milk replacer in a shallow bowl, then introduce a moist, easily chewable diet. You can make gruel from warmed milk replacer and a high-quality dry or canned kitten food. Serve it in a shallow bowl and feed the kittens several times each day. By five weeks old, they should be getting used to their new diet. By six to seven weeks old, they should be able to chew dry food and you’ll no longer need to moisten it. Kittens are typically fully weaned by around eight weeks of age.

Kittens need large amounts of energy–about two to three times that of an adult cat. Food for your kitten should contain at least 30% protein. Make sure the food you offer is specifically formulated for kittens.

How Often Should a Kitten Eat?

The following is a general eating schedule for newborns and young cats:

  • Newborn kittens may nurse about every 1-2 hours.
  • At about three to four weeks old, they can be offered milk replacer from a bowl and then small amounts of moistened kitten food four to six times a day.
  • Kittens from six to 12 weeks old should be fed four times a day as you gradually decrease their access to milk replacer.
  • Kittens from three to six months old should be fed three times a day

When it comes to newborn kittens, the mommy cat has everything covered.

Newborn kittens are indeed a lot of hard work, but mostly for the mother cat — the queen. Until weaning begins, your job as a caretaker is to ensure that the mother cat receives proper nutrition so that she, in turn, can properly and adequately nourish her wee fluffy bundles.

Nursing Kittens

By nursing her youngsters, a mother cat totally manages all of the specific dietary necessities of her litter. From the initial antibody-packed colostrum to the appropriate amounts of vital fats, proteins and vitamins, the mother cat’s milk has everything the little ones’ bodies need to grow healthily. Because of that, newborn kittens do not need food until they’re old enough to begin weaning.


When a wise mother cat determines that her kittens are mature enough to begin eating solids, she’ll slowly but surely start deterring them away from nursing as frequently as before, though she will continue some of it.

Kittens are usually old enough to start eating solid foods when they’re around 3 or 4 weeks in age, according to veterinarian J. Veronika Kiklevich of CatChannel.com. They’re usually read to eat solid foods exclusively when they’re between 6 and 7 weeks old. By then there is no need for them to nurse with mom.

Solid Food for Kittens

When you begin feeding kittens, offer them small portions of commercial foods that are made exclusively for their young age. If the label doesn’t say “kitten,” it isn’t appropriate for their tiny growing bodies, so don’t feed it to them. Always make sure that the food is wet and chewy.

Soft food is much easier for kittens to manage — remember, they’ve never eaten solid food before. Whether the food is canned or dry, blend it thoroughly with kitten formula that is slightly warmed. Once they’re around 6 weeks old, however, you can stop mixing the food in with formula.

Absence of Mother

If you for any reason are caring for a motherless litter of newborn kittens, then feeding duties are up to you starting the first day — unless, of course, you have access to another lactating queen who can serve as a substitute. This is also the case in the event of an ill mother cat who simply is unable to properly nurse her kittens.

If this is your situation, then you need to invest in both a kitten milk replacer and formula made for kittens — both of which are readily accessible at the majority of pet stores. Though you won’t have to give the little ones “food,” per se, it’s up to you to personally bottle-feed them via the milk replacer.

If you have any questions at all about newborn kitten feeding, consult your veterinarian pronto. Also remember that cow’s milk is no replacement for a mother cat’s milk or kitten formula. Not only does it fail to satisfy newborns’ dietary demands, it can give the poor things digestive upset.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *