If a kitten is in need of a milk replacement formula, it's most likely because she can't nurse from her mother, whatever the reason may be. Newborn kittens benefit greatly from their mother's milk because it's loaded with colostrum, which is rich in both protein and elements from the mother's immune system that will keep her babies healthy. Store-bought milk formula replacements can and should be used if you have a very young kitten in your care who cannot access their mother's milk. You can buy these in either a liquid or powdered formula, and kittens will either drink freely from a dish if they're old enough or will require bottle feeding from their caretaker. A kitten can be weaned from milk replacement at around three to four weeks old, at which point they will slowly transition to kitten food.
What to consider when purchasing kitten milk replacer
Age: Milk replacement formulas are great options for getting weight on growing kittens, and are a good source of essential vitamins, protein, moisture, and fat. Newborn kittens should be fed kitten milk replacer until they are three- to four-weeks-old, and usually require feeding every two to four hours in their first two weeks. Some kitten milk replacer is designed for cats over a certain age, so always be sure to check the label before you purchase a kitten formula as very young babies have special nutritional needs.
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Formula: Kitten milk replacer comes in powdered formula and liquid formula, and the preference will honestly just depend on what you like to make, and what your kitten seems to enjoy. Powdered formulas require mixing, and some powders don't break down as well, which may make bottle feeding a bit more of a hassle, although many people prefer powders as it's easier to store.
Health: If you find yourself in the position to care for a nursing or weaning kitten, you will need to familiarize yourself with the steps required for offering proper care, the first of which is finding a great milk replacement product. Additionally, very young kittens will need help eliminating until they're about three weeks old, which can be shown to you by a veterinarian or through videos found online. If you're using a liquid formula milk replacer, be sure to keep it refrigerated, and don't prepare it more than 24 hours before you'll use it, discarding it entirely if it's been left out for more than one hour.
Quality: Many people may question whether they even need a kitten milk replacement product at all, but it's important to understand that kittens have very specific needs that simply cannot be met without the help of a milk replacement. Cow's milk contains half the amount of protein as a cat's mother's milk contains, so feeding them whole milk alone will not meet their protein needs. Even watered-down wet cat food is not balanced to contain the protein, fat, and carbohydrate needs of a young kitten. If you cannot access milk replacer immediately, human baby formula can work in an emergency but should not be used for the duration of a kitten's feeding process, so be sure to find a milk replacer as soon as possible to ensure your kitten the best chance of survival.
The best overall kitten milk replacer
PetAg KMR Kitten Milk Replacer Powder
If you have a kitten in need of nursing or even getting their body weight up in those early weeks, this product is widely used and celebrated for doing just that. This is a milk powder formula that requires mixing before you serve it, and it's packed with milk protein and taurine to meet those specific kitten needs in the early stage of life. Additionally, this formula is made with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D3, vitamin E supplement, and vitamin A, along with zinc, magnesium, calcium, and a blend of probiotics. This product is safe for newborn kittens and can be fed to kittens up to six weeks old, and tastes great when mixed with warm water.
The best budget kitten milk replacer
PetAg CatSip Liquid Milk Supplement for Cats
If you're looking for a low-cost milk replacer, this option is it. This milk formula is lactose-free, which makes for easier digestion in most cats, and contains taurine to promote optimal heart and eye health. This product is really intended for kittens in the later stages of their kittenhood and is not meant for newborns or kittens under eight weeks of age, but if you are looking for a high-calorie supplement to your cat's existing diet, or are in the care of a kitten over two months old, this could be an excellent choice that won't break the bank.
The best powder kitten milk replacer
PetAg Milk Replacer Plus for Kittens
Many people like powder formulas as it's easy to store, and easy to mix when it's time to feed your kitten. This tasty powdered option is formulated for newborn kittens to kittens up to six-weeks-old. It's enriched with taurine, which promotes healthy eyes and heart function, and is found in most quality cat milk replacement products. This variety also contains a blend of probiotics and prebiotics, which work to introduce healthy gut bacteria into a kitten's microbiome and keep that good bacteria alive over time—making it an excellent choice for kittens who may have trouble digesting their milk formula.
The best liquid kitten milk replacer
Whiskas Cat Milk Liquid Milk Supplement for Cats
Liquid milk replacers can be preferred as they're ready to go straight from the bottle. This milk supplement is great for kittens and cats as it's 98% lactose-reduced, which makes it easy for most cats to digest. Sold in convenient 6.75-ounce cartons, this milk wouldn't be our first choice for feeding a newborn, who would benefit more from a formula that contains a higher crude protein and fat percentage. It is, however, a good option for older kittens in the weaning stages, or cats who could use the extra calories from a food supplement later in life. It's naturally rich in calcium for strong teeth and bones and contains taurine for a healthy heart.
The best liquid kitten milk replacer for newborn kittens
PetAg PetLac Kitten Milk Replacement Liquid
For a newborn kitten in need of a liquid formula, something rich in protein, fat, and moisture will be your best option when caring for a little one. This is a calorie-dense formula that contains important vitamins, minerals, like niacin supplement and folic acid, and amino acids for ensuring the healthy growth of any kitten. This liquid formula comes in a convenient resealable container that allows you to close it back up before you store it in the refrigerator between feedings.
The best kitten milk replacer for digestion
Tailspring Milk Replacer for Kittens
Nearly all kitten milk replacer products are made with real milk, which can be hard to digest. Some are lactose-free, which certainly makes things easier on kittens, while others don't use cow's milk at all. This option uses goat's milk, which is gentle on a kitten's stomach. The other ingredients used in this formula are human-grade and contain no preservatives or artificial colors or flavors. This is a limited-ingredient liquid formula that's ready to use and is made with taurine, vitamin D supplement, vitamin A supplement, vitamin E supplement, and essential minerals like magnesium sulfate.
The best kitten milk replacer bundle
PetAg Complete Nursing Kit + KMR Kitten Milk Replacer Powder
For anyone with a newborn kitten on their hands, feeding and caring for something that's missing their lactating mother can be an overwhelming thing to consider. Bottle feeding newborns should be done every couple of hours, and requires both a quality formula and a bottle, which come in this convenient kit. Equipped with additional replacement nipples for easy cleaning and delivery, this kit contains a two-ounce bottle for feeding, and a 12-ounce can of PetAg KMR Kitten Milk Replacer Powder. While the milk replacer can be offered to older kittens and cats, the bottle is intended only for use with newborn kittens.