Excellent picture of two week-old kitten Bianca being bottle-fed

This is an excellent photograph by Olivia Esselman published on the Aiken Standard website. It was taken in the Aiken County Animal Shelter where they are promoting a new foster program to save lives. I really like this photograph. It caught my attention.

Bianca and Sienna are a couple of two-week-old kittens who were found in a parking lot, abandoned in a box. A spokesperson for the shelter said that they were left out overnight which is a tough call for a kitten of that age to survive. When they found them they hadn’t eaten and they were limp . It the carers most of the day to get them warmed up to normal temperature. Over the next few days it was touch and go whether or not they survived. As you can see they pulled through.

I have nothing but tremendous admiration for people who foster kittens and to raise them to health. I understand that it is very tricky, complicated and requires great skill, patience and care. I’ve never done it so I have to refer to people who have when writing this article. There are three critical areas namely furnishing the right environment, preparing and feeding the right formula and providing the right management. Accurate record-keeping is important at all times.

Bottle feeding is good in that it satisfies the kitten’s urge to suckle but they have to be strong enough. My book tells me that if you are using a small doll’s bottle or a commercial kitten nurser with a soft nipple you have to enlarge the hole in the nipple so that the milk drips slowly when the bottle is turned over. This is to prevent the kitten not getting enough nourishment because he has quickly tired. The hole should not be too big otherwise the kitten may choke or inhale formula which can lead to pneumonia.

Position of bottlefeeding

I understand that the correct position is to hold a kitten upright on his stomach and chest. The kitten should not be cradled on his back like a baby. The kitten’s mouth should be opened with the tip of the finger and the nipple inserted. The bottle should be held at a 45° angle. The angle should ensure that air does not get into the kitten’s stomach. The foster carer should pull the bottle slightly to encourage sucking. When bubbles come out of the kitten’s mouth he has had enough formula. If there is a slow drip, feeding normally takes about five minutes or a bit more.

Commercially available milk formulas

There are commercially available milk formulas for kittens which are very close to the composition of the queen’s milk. You can get them through veterinarians and in pet supply stores. Neither cow’s nor dog’s milk is a suitable substitute. Formula should be warmed up but should not be hot before feeding.


Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • Yes, you got all that stuff right. I can't advise people enough to feed kittens how they'd normally suckle, on their bellies and NOT on their backs! I swear every time I see that (human baby style) I go berserk on the person so they never forget it.

    • Thanks for confirming the accuracy, Albert. Hope you are well. I hate seeing cats and kittens treated as babies too.

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