Having a new litter of kittens in your home is often an exciting event. However, sometimes things go wrong, and the kittens may be orphaned or rejected by their mother. Whether you need to care for kittens your own cat gave birth to, or you happen upon a litter of orphaned kittens, you may suddenly find you need kitten formula. These homemade recipes can help you feed the kittens.
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Homemade kitten formula recipes
If you suddenly find yourself needing to feed kittens late at night or on a weekend when you can't go to the store, an easy kitten milk recipe is a must. The following recipes are intended as emergency kitten formula replacements. They use ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen and will help get you by until you can purchase kitten formula.
According to Ingham County, Michigan, you can make a simple formula in a number of different ways. For the first recipe, mix together 1 can of evaporated milk with 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of Karo syrup. For the second recipe, blend together 8 ounces of homogenized whole milk, 2 egg yolks, and 1 teaspoon salad oil. The third recipe is even simpler. Just mix together 1 part boiled water to 5 parts evaporated milk, then add half a teaspoon of bone meal per every 16 ounces of fluid that you mix.
All three of these recipes should be thoroughly mixed together. Store them in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. When it's time to feed the kittens, combine half of the mixture with an equal amount of boiling water. The mixture should be just above room temperature when you feed it. Always make sure to test the mixture on your hand before feeding it to the kittens.
Transitioning to manufactured formula
The above kitten milk substitute recipes are designed only to be used in an emergency. They do not contain the complete nutrition that kittens need long-term. Commercially available formulas and milk replacers are specially designed to give kittens the right nutritional balance that their growing bodies need.
According to The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, powdered kitten milk replacer is preferable to canned liquid formulas. The powdered replacer can help to prevent the kittens from getting diarrhea, so try to start the kittens on powdered milk replacer as soon as possible.
You can purchase commercially available milk replacers from a variety of sources, including local pet stores, online retailers, and some larger feed stores. Your vet may also have these products in stock and may be able to give you a supply until you can go to a store or place an order online.
Always keep prepared formula in the fridge when you're not actively feeding it. Think of it like cow's milk. It will go bad quickly if not refrigerated.
Up to the challenge
Caring for orphaned kittens is a huge undertaking, so be sure that you're up to the task. The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals notes that kittens under four weeks of age can't eat on their own, so they must be fed every three hours. Kittens that are unwell may need feedings as often as every two hours.
The young kittens will need more than just regular feedings, too. Young kittens can't urinate or defecate on their own, so after feeding them, you will need to stimulate this behavior with a warm washcloth. With eight of these care sessions a day, it can be a challenge to care for orphaned kittens on your own.
Think you're up for the task? If not, contact your vet or a local animal rescue. They will know of local caretakers who specialize in the intensive care that orphaned animals need.
Time for the vet
If your kittens develop diarrhea, seem lethargic, or lose their appetites, call your vet immediately. Diarrhea can quickly dehydrate a kitten, and any sort of illness can progress quickly. When you're raising orphaned kittens, never hesitate to call your vet if something is worrying you.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.