As a happy new cat parent to a litter of cute kittens, you’re probably excited and worried as you learn how to care for your cats. An important question for people caring for cats is, “How long can newborn kittens go without eating?” As a loving and responsible pet owner, it’s essential to know what these tiny, fragile animals need to eat. As we talk about baby kitten care in this blog post, we’ll look at some things that affect how long these cute little furballs can go without eating. This information will help you give these little bundles of joy the best start in life, whether you’re a first-time cat caregiver or want to learn more about how to take care of cats.
How Long Can Newborn Kittens Go Without Eating
A newborn kitten’s survival without eating varies with the cat’s breed, age, and situation. If the mother does not feed the newborn kitten due to Litter or any other problem, then the kitten can survive for 12 hours. If kittens are mature or more extensive, then they can last without food for four days.
The First Hours of Life: When to Start Feeding:
When kittens are just a few hours old, they must know that their food needs differ greatly from those of older cats. The first few hours and days are crucial for their growth. As a general rule, here’s when you should start feeding baby kittens:
Colostrum: Newborn kittens get their first nutrition from their mother’s milk in the first few hours after birth. In the days after giving birth, a mother cat’s milk has colostrum in it, a special fluid that is full of nutrients and antibodies that the kittens need. This “first milk” is essential for building up their immunity systems.
Delaying Feeding: For the first 12 to 24 hours, you should not touch the kittens. This will give them time to bond with their mother, feed, and get colostrum. The kittens should be focusing on bringing this vital milk and bonding with their mother at this time.
But it’s essential to keep an eye on the kittens during these first few hours to make sure they’re nursing and hanging on to their mother’s nose. If you see that a kitten is having trouble nursing or the mother is rejecting it, you may need to step in sooner.
Hand-Feeding: If you have to feed a kitten by hand and it is lost, rejected, or not nursing well, you may need to start giving it a kitten milk replacer. Advice from a vet on the right formula, feeding method, and plan should be sought. This needs to be done with the vet’s help.
Gradual Transition: If you’re feeding babies left behind by their parents by hand, you can start giving them small amounts of milk replacer after 24 hours. This is because they need to be eating colostrum the most at this point. You should feed them every one to two hours and ensure the milk replacer is at body temperature.
Weighing and Watching: The kittens must be considered every day to make sure they are gaining weight. A steady gain in weight is a good sign that they are getting enough food.
Follow the Vet’s Guidance: As you go through the process, make sure you follow the advice of a doctor who knows how to take care of kittens so you can give the babies the best care possible.
Remember that a kitten’s health and well-being rest on how well its mother takes care of it, how much colostrum it eats, and any extra food it needs. It is essential to make sure that your method fits the kittens’ specific needs, and you should talk to a vet to make sure they grow up healthy.
Setting up a feeding schedule during the first week:
Setting up a feeding plan for kittens in their first week is crucial to ensure they get the food they need to grow and develop properly. Here is an example of when to feed babies that have been abandoned or raised by humans:
Feed them every two hours, all the time. It’s both day and night here.
Use milk replacer made just for kittens warmed to body temperature, which is about 100°F or 38°C.
About 2 to 4 milliliters of formula should be given per ounce of body weight each time.
Keep feeding every two hours.
Slowly raise the amount of formula until each meal is about 5 to 7 ml per ounce of body weight.
Note: During their first week, kittens need to eat between 15 and 32 milliliters of formula per ounce of body weight every day.
Some more tips:
- Every day, weigh the kittens to make sure they are getting bigger. A sign of a good diet is steady weight gain.
- Ensure the kittens are warm and safe, and keep the area clean.
- To avoid getting infections, clean all of the feeding tools.
- To feed them, use a small, soft tube or a bottle for kittens. Make sure the kittens can latch on and swallow the formula.
- Please remember that these are just suggestions; each baby may have different needs. For a more personalized feeding plan and advice, it’s essential to talk to a vet who has experience taking care of newborn kittens. As the kittens get more extensive, you can slowly reduce how often you feed them. Around 3–4 weeks old, you can start giving them real food.
Newborn feeding schedule: week by week
We will now learn about the feeding in below given chart for up to 8 weeks.
|Type of Food
|Feeding Per Day
|KMR (Kitten Milk Formula)
|Mothers Milk + Introduction to solid foods via mush. 7x per day.
|4-5 Weeks Mothers
|Milk and mush
|Wet and Dry Food
|Wet and Dry Food
|+Wet and Dry Food
It would help if you kept an eye on your kitten’s growth and feeding plans. You should also see how she reacts to different types and amounts of food, serving sizes, and other things.
Signs that a newborn kitten is hungry or full:
It’s essential to know how to tell when a baby kitten is hungry or full so you can make sure they get the right amount of food. Here are some signs to look out for:
How to know if baby kitten is hungry
Rooting Reflex: When you touch a newborn kitten near its mouth, it will automatically turn its head and look for a nip. They will eagerly root for food if they are hungry. Hungry kittens may wriggle, move their heads, or even cry softly while looking for something to eat. They might also use their hands to knead.
Liking or Chewing: If a kitten is hungry, it might lick its lips or try to suckle on its own body or something else.
Crying: Hungry People often call at the same time. When cats are hungry, they make a clear, high-pitched sound.
For example, if you give a hungry cat your finger or a bottle, they may naturally latch on to it and suckle.
Signs that a kitten is Full:
Slowed Suckling: When a kitten is complete, they may suckle less vigorously or slowly. They could also choose to let go of the nipple.
Loose Body: A happy kitten usually has an open, big belly. Their body will feel better, and they might even nod off.
Refusal: If a kitten turns down the bottle or stops feeding, it could mean they are complete.
Contented Purring: Like adult cats, some kittens may purr when happy.
Carefully watch for these signs and change how much you feed them based on what you see. Too much food can cause stomach problems, and insufficient food can make an animal malnourished. It’s also helpful to make sure the kittens are getting enough food by keeping track of when they eat and checking their weight every day. Seek advice from a vet or an experienced owner if you’re unsure what they should be fed.
Factors Affecting Feeding Intervals:
Many things can change how often baby kittens are fed, and it’s essential to think about these things to make sure the kittens get the proper care and food. Some essential things that can change how often you eat are listed below:
Age of the Kittens: Another critical factor in figuring out how often to feed the kittens is their age. Kittens under two weeks old must be provided every one to two hours. As they get bigger and start weaning onto eating solid food, they can go longer between meals.
Kittens’ Weight: It’s essential to think about how much the kittens weigh. Kittens that are smaller or weaker may need to be fed more often, while kittens that are bigger and healthy may be able to go longer without being fed.
Health and growth: Kittens who are sick or are behind in their growth may need to eat differently. Talk to your vet about how to change the kittens’ feeding plan if they have special needs.
Food Method: The amount of time between meals can be affected by the food method. Kittens that their mother nurses can usually help whenever they need to, but kittens that humans raised may need a more set feeding plan.
Mother’s Milk Supply: If the kittens are sucking from their mom, the amount of milk the mom has can change how often they feed them. Make sure that the mother cat is giving the kittens enough milk.
Recipe Temperature: The recipe’s temperature is essential. To ensure the kittens are happy and to help them digest, it should be heated to body temperature, which is about 100°F or 38°C.
Hunger and Appetite: Each kitten may have a different amount of hunger and appetite. There may be cats that need to be fed more often because they eat so much, while others may be fine with longer breaks.
Weight Gain: Keep a close eye on how much the kittens weigh gain. A promising sign that they are getting enough food is that they are regularly gaining weight. If they don’t gain any weight or gain it slowly, you may need to change how often they are fed.
Needs of Each Kitten: Every kitten is different, so their needs can be different too. Please heed what they tell you and change the feeding plan to fit their needs.
Environmental Factors: A kitten’s need for food can be affected by the temperature of its surroundings. When it’s cold outside, kittens may need to be fed more often to keep their bodies warm.
During the kittens’ first few weeks, they must be adaptable and pay attention to their needs. You can figure out the best times to feed the kittens based on their health and growth by watching them, talking to a vet, and paying close attention to their behavior.
Managing Feeding Challenges
Caring for baby kittens’ feeding problems is important for their health and well-being. Here are some common issues and worries about feeding baby kittens, along with ways to deal with them:
- The mother isn’t producing enough milk:
If the mother cat isn’t making enough milk, give the kitten a milk replacer.
By giving the mother cat a calm, stress-free space, and good food, you can get her to nurse more often.
- Having trouble latching on:
Some kittens might have trouble attaching to their mother’s lips or a bottle. You can gently lead them to the bottle or nipple and ensure they are in the right place.
- Kittens who have lost their parents:
Kittens that are left alone need to be fed by hand. Use a store-bought milk replacer for kittens and provide them at the right time for their age.
Use a heating pad or a warm water bottle covered in a towel to keep them warm.
- Feeding too much or too little:
Every day, weigh the kittens to see how much they’ve grown. This helps you get the right amount of food into the animal.
Based on the kittens’ size and weight, talk to a vet about how much food they should be given.
If kittens are fed too quickly, they might regurgitate. Allow them to drink at their own pace while you provide them slowly.
- Having diarrhoea or constipation:
Changing your food all of a sudden can make your stomach hurt. When kittens are ready, slowly move them to solid food.
If your pet has diarrhea or constipation, you should see a vet because it could mean they are sick.
- Aspiration or Choking:
When feeding kittens, be careful so they don’t choke or aspirate. Hold them in the right way to provide them, and use a bottle or pump to control the flow of the formula.
- Sickness or infections:
Kittens can get illnesses, especially if they are alone or their mother is sick. Ensure the area where the cats eat is clean, and always wash your hands after touching them.
If your kitten is acting sick by being lethargic, coughing, or eye infection or nose discharge, you should take it to the vet right away.
- Not going to eat:
Kittens may refuse to eat when they are sick or stressed. If your kitten refuses to eat repeatedly, you should take it to the vet.
- Problems with weaning:
When kittens are ready to move on to solid food, you should give them good cat food. At first, you can mix it with formula to make it taste better.
Looking for Professional Help with Caring for a Newborn Kitten
A veterinarian who has experience with neonatal kitten care is the only person you should talk to about how to care for a newborn kitten. They can advise you on feeding plans, health checks, and other questions, such as “How Long Can Newborn Kittens Go Without Eating?” You could also contact animal shelters or rescue groups in your area. These groups often have skilled foster parents who can offer support and help. These experts can help you make sure your new kitten is healthy and growing correctly, and they can also give you the tools you need to deal with any problems that may come up.
For this reason, taking care of and giving newborn kittens requires careful attention and knowledge of their specific nutritional and developmental needs. Setting a regular feeding routine, recognizing the signs of hunger and fullness, and dealing with common feeding problems are all important for their healthy growth and development. A veterinarian’s help and advice are significant for giving newborn kittens specialized care, addressing health issues, and making personalized suggestions for improving their overall health. Caregivers can help these vulnerable and precious feline friends grow up healthy and happy by providing a loving setting, monitoring their progress, and getting them veterinary care when needed. We can make sure that every newborn kitten has a good start in life by giving them careful care, making intelligent decisions, and working together with veterinary pros.