How long can newborn kittens go without milk?

This article will answer the question “How long can newborn kittens go without milk?”, and how to feed a kitten?

How long can newborn kittens go without milk?

A kitten cannot survive without milk even for a few hours. This varies with the age and health of the kitten. A 3-week old kitten can last  2–3 days while a 4-week old kitten can do without mother’s milk but complications will arise. 

The following table shows a guideline on how much and how often should a kitten of a certain age, be fed for healthy development.

1-3 days 2.5 milliliters (0.08  fl oz) of KMR every two hours
4-7 days 5 milliliters (0.17  fl oz) of KMR 10 to 12 feeds a day
6-10 days 5 to 7.5 milliliters (0.17 to 0.25  fl oz) KMR 10 feeds a day
11-14 days 10 to 12.5 milliliters (0.34 to 0.42  fl oz) KMR every three hours
15-21 days 10 milliliters (0.34  fl oz) eight times daily
21 days and beyond 7.5 to 25 milliliters (0.3 to 0.8  fl oz), three to four times daily, in addition to introducing solid food

How to feed a kitten?

Find a nursing feline mother 

Rather than feeding the kitten on the milk replacer, it is urged to look for a feline nursing mother that can adopt the poor kitten. 

Always watch out for rejection from the queen or mother cat. She can reject or even murder the strange-smelling kitten. 

To dodge rejection, rub the abandoned kitten with the kitten of the queen mother. This will help conceal the foreign smell of your kitten.

Get milk 

Buy a good kitten milk replacer after consulting with your vet. Follow the instructions on the package of the milk to make the kitten formula milk. 

Note: The canned ‘Cat milk’ is meant to be fed to your kitten. 

Construct a plan B

Construct a plan B If you have to urgently feed the kitten.

  1. Boil some water. When it cools, feed it to your kitten to replenish hydration.
  1. If the kitten looks hungry, stir 1 tsp glucose powder in 1 cup of boiled water. Feed this solution to your kitten when it cools. This is a one-time solution only.
  1. Another solution for a hungry kitten is rice water. Drain the water that remains after cooking white rice. Use this starchy water to redeem the kitten’s energy.

Make a schedule 

Make a feeding schedule for your kitten. The kitten needs utmost attention until it starts on the solid food. The tiny stomach of the kitten demands it to be fed frequently throughout the day and the night.

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

Can a newborn kitten drink regular milk?

Learn about the weaning process

A kitten is ready to wean after 4 weeks. To promote the weaning process, you can keep solid food around the kitten. Never force it on the kitten. The kitten should nibble on the solid food out of its own interest. 

Soak the solid food in some milk formula or water to ease digestion and attract the kitten. Gradually cut down on formula milk while increasing the portion of solid food during weaning. 

6-8 week old kitten requires 6-8 meals a day to fulfill its nutritional and energy requirements. A 9-month-old kitten can survive on 3 meals while an adult cat only needs 2 meals per day.

Feeding the kitten 

Preferably use a bottle and teat set like Catac bottle and teat set, specifically designed for kittens. If you do not have the facility of a bottle and teat set, a syringe will also do.

Sterilize the equipment 

Sterilizing is not the same as washing the equipment. For sterilizing the feeding equipment, you can use a steam sterilizer or dip the tools in a dilution of Milton sterilizing fluid in a bowl. 

This fluid can be purchased from the baby aisle of any drug store. Before feeding the kitten, give it a rinse with boiled water to get rid of the residual sterilizing solution.

Make and heat the milk 

The prepared milk should be at body temperature. Too hot milk will scald your kitten’s mouth. Make fresh milk for each feeding session to avoid bacterial contamination.

Check your kittens’ body temperature 

Ideally, your kitten should be 96–100 °F warm for the first three weeks. Use a heating pad underneath a well-insulated nest or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to maintain your kitten at this temperature. The temperature of the kitten affects the digestion of milk.

Feed the kitten 

Place a towel on your lap, and snuggle in the kitten. The stomach of the kitten should be resting, head straight, and feet down. Do not rush and feed slowly to prevent the kitten from inhaling milk.


This article answered the question “How long can newborn kittens go without milk?”, and how to feed a kitten?


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