How Much Milk Does a Newborn Kitten Need?

Have you recently become the caretaker of a newborn kitten? Wondering how much milk is too much? Kittens need milk replacers to grow without their mother feeding them. How do we know how much to actually give them though? If you are a first-time kitten caretaker you may be asking yourself…

How much milk does a newborn kitten need? A newborn kitten less than 1 week old will need 2 to 5ml of 7 feedings per day equalling 15 to 31ml per day. 1 week old will need 6 to 9ml of 7 feedings per day equalling 38 to 61ml per day. 2 weeks old will need 10 to 12ml of 6/7 feedings per day equalling 69 to 84ml per day. 3 weeks old will need 14 to 16ml of 5/6 feedings per day equalling 92 to 115ml per day. 4 weeks old will need 18 to 22ml of 4/5 feedings per day equalling 123 to 146ml per day. 5 weeks old will need 23ml of 4 feedings per day equalling 153ml per day. Depending on the weight of your newborn kitten!

Before we dive deeper, please, never feed a newborn kitten if they are:

  • unresponsive
  • lethargic
  • cold
  • or unable to swallow

If your kitten is cold they will not be able to properly latch or swallow any milk at all. In this case, make sure you have a heating pad near your newborn kitten and wait at least 30 minutes before feeding them.

Never feed a newborn kitten unless they are warm, responsive and able to swallow!

Let us move on…

Daily calorie requirements for your newborn kitten

It is important that your newborn kitten get the recommended requirements to grow happy and healthy.

Newborn kittens depend on you to help them when they do not have a mother to feed on whenever they need to.

You will want to come up with a solid feeding schedule for your newborn kitten so that they get the right amount of calories that otherwise would have been provided by their mother.

Daily calorie requirement chart :

Age of newborn kittenWeight (oz)Daily required Calories
less than a 1-week old kitten2 oz11 kcal
3 oz17 kcal
4 oz23 kcal
1-week old kitten5 oz28 kcal
6 oz34 kcal
7 oz40 kcal
8 oz45 kcal
2-week old kitten9 oz51 kcal
10 oz57 kcal
11 oz62 kcal
3-week old kitten12 oz 68 kcal
13 oz 74 kcal
14 oz 79 kcal
15 oz85 kcal
4 week-old kitten16 oz91 kcal
1 lb 1 oz96 kcal
1 lb 2 oz102 kcal
1lb 3oz108 kcal
5 week-old kitten1 lb 4 oz113 kcal

As you can see when it comes to feeding newborn kittens you must consider their daily required calories based on their weight and age.

Miscalculating your kittens daily calories can lead to malnourishment, an increased amount of health problems, and even death.

Here are a couple of great tips to make sure that you are not missing a feeding and you are getting your newborn kitten the calories it needs every day.

  • Use a high-quality KMR (kitten milk replacer): Do your research (or just shop on Amazon) and find a really good kitten milk replacer that will give your kitten the calories, vitamins, and nutrients it needs to thrive.

  • Use the right amount of KMR for every single feeding: Based on the chart above and the bolded answer paragraph at the top of this post, you will know exactly how much to give your newborn kitten at every single feeding.

  • Set an alarm for every feeding so you do not miss any. This will require you to wake up in the middle of the night, comparable to having a newborn human. This is essential and REQUIRED to help your newborn kitten grow and be healthy.

  • If you live with someone else, simply take turns. As you would with a newborn infant, switch night shifts with someone else in your household. You can also take turns throughout the night too.

Do not try to overfeed your newborn kitten

As kittens will be adjusting to the volume of milk that you’re giving them every day. It may be okay to increase the amount of kitten milk replacer in order to reduce the number of feedings per day.

But please be very careful because exceeding the amount of milk in your newborn kitten’s feedings per day can most definitely cause some problems if not done correctly.

Overfeeding your newborn kitten can lead to multiple medical issues. Here are a few to look out for if you feel like you have accidentally overfed your newborn kitten:

  • Vomiting
  • Gas build up in the stomach and intestines
  • Aspiration
  • Diarrhea

It may seem desirable to overfeed your kitten before you go to sleep so that you can get some more shut-eye throughout the night.

Please don’t do this.

A newborn kittens stomach can only take so much and you will be doing more harm than good.

Although kittens will stop feeding when they feel full. Even newborns! Do not try to force-feed your kitten even more than they are willing to drink.

What supplies you need to feed your newborn kitten

Motherless Newborn kittens require a special kitten milk replacer (formula). Please do not try to feed your newborn kitten just any kind of milk. The last thing you want to do is feed your newborn kitten the wrong thing.

You cannot feed your newborn kitten any dairy product you have on hand or in the fridge.

It is very dangerous to do this, please do not feed your newborn kitten something their little stomachs will not be able to properly digest.

Never ever feed your newborn kitten:

  • Condensed milk
  • Cows milk
  • Goats milk
  • Soy milk
  • Human baby formula
  • Cat milk (treat for adult cats, not kitten formula!)
  • or any other dairy alternatives

Kitten formula:

Instead, you are going to want to shop for something that specifically says kitten formula.

Kitten formula is entirely formulated for kittens. It provides a proper balance of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and caloric content that literally mimics the content of a mother cat milk!

You can find kitten formula at your local pet store, some grocery stores, the local veterinary office and even online.

Get more info here.

Kitten Bottles and Nipples:

While you are shopping for your kitten formula be sure to pick up some kitten bottles and nipples.

You can choose to use a traditional kitten nipple that will require some preparation on your part. These nipples do not come precut which means you will have to cut a hole yourself in the nipple for your newborn kitten.

This can cause a ton of human error without even realizing.

To make sure you are doing it right, test how fast or slow the kitten formula comes out by turning the bottle upside down and over your wrist.

If you do not feel comfortable using the traditional kitten nipples you can use something called a miracle nipple.

The miracle nipple is a specialty product you can buy online.

The miracle nipple has a hole already cut into it (no worries about doing it yourself!), it is a hard rubber nipple and can be used with a syringe or you can pop it right onto a regular kitten bottle lid!

These awesome miracle nipples come in many sizes based on the age of your kitten. This specialty nipple creates the perfect flow if given the right size to your newborn kitten.

Get more info here.

What to do when your newborn kitten is not drinking enough milk

Never rush your newborn kitten! Newborn kittens sometimes do not know what to do at first. If you are bottle-feeding a newborn kitten that you just acquired, be patient!

Give it a couple of tries, if you are getting impatient slow down and take a deep breath or give you and the kitten some needed space by walking out of the room for a minute and then try again.

Research actually shows that the suckling reflux is the strongest right when they wake up from sleeping. So try feeding right after they wake up to encourage the natural way they would eat from their mother.

Do not take the newborn kitten away from their nice warm bed. Feed them right there where they are cozy and feel most comfortable.

As a newborn kitten caretaker, you might want to take them out of their comfortable bed and put them on a cold table or your lap to feed them. But, it’s just not natural for them.

Make sure you try feeding them in their nice warm bed you provided for them where they feel the most comfortable and secure.

you can also use a stuffed animal for your newborn kitten to make them feel more at home, think of it as a stand-in for a mama cat. Warm and cozy snuggled up next to mama.

This will naturally increase their suckling reflex and desire to drink from their “mothers nipples”.

Try swaddling your newborn kitten. Just like a human newborn, kittens have reflexes and jolts from their limbs too.

Swaddling the newborn kittens and calming them down a bit may help them concentrate more on drinking the kitten formula and focusing more on the bottle.

Try to make sure your newborn kitten is not drinking enough milk because of something you’re doing wrong. If you are using a traditional nipple for a kitten and you have cut it too small this could be a problem.

Your newborn kitten is just not getting any milk out of it.

Maybe you have cut the hole too big and the kitten is just spitting it out due to excess milk flow.

If you are using powdered kitten formula you might have not shaken it up enough and it is clumping at the end of the bottle causing a blockage.

Try getting a bottle warmer or warming up the kitten formula in the microwave for a very little period of time. Newborn kittens drink from their mother’s nipples which is very warm due to their mother’s body heat.

When warming up the bottle please make sure it is not too hot. Check it on your wrist before giving it to your newborn kitten.

you can also try syringe feeding if you are already using a regular traditional bottle. Syringe feeding helps you feed the newborn kitten slowly in little drops. This is great for an extra small and young newborn kitten.

You may be surprised to find out that MAYBE you newborn kitten doesn’t even need to be bottle-fed with formula any longer. Depending on the age of your kitten.

You can easily check the age of your kitten by checking their teeth. If they have premolars on the side of their mouth, that kitten is more than 5 weeks old and doesn’t even need to have anymore kitten formula.

If you have a kitten that is under 5 weeks old you will need to make sure you follow these guidelines to ensure you are giving your newborn kitten enough milk to grow and sustain a happy and healthy life.

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How Much Milk Does a Newborn Kitten Need?

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