Homemade Kitten Milk Replacer: 3 Recipes & Procedures

Kittens under 4 weeks old have very specific nutritional needs that require a milk replacement formula. They cannot properly digest cow’s milk or most other dairy products. Feeding them something their bodies cannot process can lead to diarrhea, intestinal issues, malnutrition, and even death.

Homemade kitten milk replacers provide an alternative source of nutrition for newborn kittens who have been separated from their mother before weaning. These recipes allow you to make a milk-like formula that contains the proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals that kittens need to grow and develop.

This article will provide recipes and instructions for making homemade kitten milk replacers. We will cover the step-by-step process for mixing and feeding the formula. Signs of improper feeding, and other important information about the use of homemade milk replacer for kittens. The goal is to provide everything needed to successfully hand-rear healthy kittens.


Conditions For Giving Kittens Milk Replacers

Naturally, the mother (queen) is supposed to give the kittens milk after birth, particularly the colostrum. However, there are conditions that warranty giving kittens milk replacers; these are:

  • When the mother is ill and unfit to attend to the kittens.
  • When the mother is unable to produce enough milk after birth.
  • The death of the mother. Orphaned kittens are fed with milk replacers.
  • When the mother absconds after giving birth, the kittens are given milk replacers.
  • If the kitten is weak and unable to compete with other kittens in the litter for their mother’s milk

In any of the above conditions, a commercial or homemade kitten milk replacer is recommended. They are usually formulated with the adequate nutrients required for the kittens’ growth.

Homemade Milk Replacer Recipes

There are several recipes for homemade kitten milk replacers using ingredients you may already have at home:

#1. Condensed Milk Recipe

  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk 
  • 1 cup boiled, cooled water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 egg yolk

Mix these ingredients and store them covered in the refrigerator. Discard any unused portions after 24 hours.

#2. Evaporated Milk Recipe

  • 2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
  • 1 raw egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt or cultured milk
  • 1 drop of cod liver oil

Mix all ingredients and store them covered in the refrigerator. Discard any unused portions after 24 hours.

#3. Goat Milk Recipe

  • 1 cup whole goat milk
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
  • 1 raw egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Mix all ingredients and store them covered in the refrigerator. Discard any unused portions after 24 hours.

Dangers of Cow’s Milk for Kitten Milk Replacer

Cow’s milk contains a form of lactose that is difficult for kittens to digest properly. When kittens drink regular cow’s milk, it can cause diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition, and other health issues.

Cow’s milk also does not contain the right balance of nutrients that kittens need. It has too much fat and protein and not enough carbohydrates compared to feline milk. Cow’s milk is deficient in essential amino acids like taurine that are vital for kittens’ development. A taurine deficiency can cause heart and eye problems.

Kittens should never be fed regular cow’s milk, even in small amounts. The lactose and nutritional makeup make it very problematic for their health and growth. Homemade or commercial kitten milk replacers are much safer alternatives that provide the right nutrition profile for kittens.

Procedure For Feeding Kittens Homemade Milk Replacer

When feeding homemade kitten milk replacer, follow these guidelines:

Amount to feed:

– Measure the amount carefully. Overfeeding can cause diarrhea while underfeeding leads to dehydration and hypoglycemia.

– Kittens under 4 weeks need around 5-8 ml per oz of body weight per day. Split this into equal feedings every 2-3 hours.

– Kittens over 4 weeks need around 8-10 ml per oz of body weight per day. Feed every 3-4 hours.

– Feed the suggested amount unless the kitten seems hungry or acts starving. Increase the amount if needed.


  • Young kittens under 4 weeks need feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock. Set alarms for night feeds.
  • Older kittens over 4 weeks can move to 3-4 hour feeding intervals.
  • Always allow at least 2 hours between feedings for proper digestion.
  • Feed on demand if the kitten seems excessively hungry in between feeds.

Equipment Needed:

  • Use a kitten nurser bottle designed for small mouths to feed. Never use a bowl.
  • Choose a slow-flow nipple to control the flow rate.
  • Sterilize all feeding equipment before each use. 
  • Keep extra sterilized bottles on hand.
  • Fill bottles as needed for each feeding session. Leftovers should be discarded.

Follow these feeding guidelines carefully to keep orphaned kittens healthy and growing properly. Adjust the amount and frequency based on the individual kitten’s needs.

Signs of Improper Feeding

It’s important to monitor kittens closely while bottle feeding to watch for signs of improper feeding. Some key things to look out for include:

1) Diarrhea

Diarrhea or loose stools can be a sign that the kitten is not tolerating the formula well. This could mean the formula is too rich or the feeding schedule is off. Diarrhea leads to dehydration and loss of nutrients, so it’s important to adjust the formula or feeding schedule if diarrhea persists. Offer extra water between feedings to prevent dehydration.

2) Dehydration

Dehydration is a dangerous condition, especially for young kittens. Signs include lethargy, sunken eyes, dry gums, weakness, and skin that lacks elasticity. Make sure kittens are getting enough fluid at each feeding and watch for signs of dehydration. You may need to supplement with an electrolyte solution if dehydration occurs.

3) Weight Loss

Kittens should gain weight steadily each day. Weight loss is a red flag that they are not getting enough nutrition from the formula. Make sure you are feeding the right amounts based on the kitten’s weight. Increase volume or add nutritional supplements if weight loss continues. Failing to gain weight is just as much of a concern as actual weight loss.

Monitor for these signs when bottle-feeding kittens. Consult a veterinarian if you have ongoing issues with diarrhea, dehydration, or weight loss. With careful feeding and management, kittens can thrive on a milk replacer formula.

Transitioning from Milk Replacer to Solid Food

Around 3 – 4 weeks of age, kittens are ready to start the transition from milk to solid food. Here are some tips for this transition period:

– Start introducing solid foods when kittens are about 3-4 weeks old. Their teeth begin coming in around this time.

– Introduce solid foods gradually. Start by offering tiny amounts of wet or softened dry kitten food several times per day.

– Mix a little bit of kitten food into the milk replacer to help them get used to the new textures and flavors.

– Increase the amount of kitten food slowly over 2-3 weeks while decreasing the amount of milk replacer.

– By about 7-8 weeks old, kittens should be weaned off milk replacer and eating solid food completely.

– Good starter foods include wet or softened canned kitten foods, meat-based baby foods with no onion/garlic, and soaked dry kitten kibble. Avoid cow’s milk.

– Feed small amounts frequently as kittens have tiny stomachs. Leave food out for them to nibble on.

– Make the transition gradual so you don’t upset their digestive systems. Diarrhea or constipation can occur if switched too fast

– Ensure fresh, clean water is always available as kittens start to eat solids.

– Give kittens time to adjust to new foods. Introduce new proteins gradually over weeks.

With patience and proper introduction, kittens will transition from milk to solids successfully. Keep a close eye on their intake and litter habits. Consult a vet if issues arise.

Storage and Handling of Kitten Milk Replacer

Properly storing and handling the homemade milk replacer is important for keeping the kittens healthy. Here are some tips:

– Storage Times: Only make enough milk replacer for 1-2 days of feedings. Store any unused replacer in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. To freeze for longer storage, pour into ice cube trays or muffin tins. Once frozen, transfer cubes to a freezer bag and store for up to 1 month.

– Heating Milk: Always warm milk replacer to about 100°F before feeding. To heat, place the bottle in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Avoid microwaving bottles as this can create hot spots that could burn the kitten’s mouth. Test temperature before feeding.

– Cleaning Equipment: Bottles, nipples, and other feeding equipment should be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water after each use. Use a bottle brush to fully clean inside bottles. Allow to air dry completely before the next use. Replace nipples regularly as they can harbor bacteria.

Alternatives to Homemade Kitten Milk Replacers

While homemade kitten milk replacers can provide the nutrition young kittens need, some alternatives may work better in certain situations.

kitten milk replacer

1) Commercial Milk Replacers

Commercial kitten milk replacers (KMR) are formulated specifically for kittens’ nutritional needs. They contain the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. This takes the guesswork out of mixing your homemade recipe.

Commercial KMR are available as powders that you mix with water or ready-to-feed liquids. They come in different formulations for kittens of different ages. Using a commercial product correctly can ensure your kittens get the nutrients they need to thrive.

Some benefits of commercial milk replacers:

  • Formulated for kittens’ needs
  • Consistent nutrition and quality
  • Convenient and easy to mix or use
  • Available in stores and online
  • Veterinarian recommended

Talk to your vet to find a good commercial milk replacer brand and ensure you are using and preparing it properly.

2) Foster Care

If you are unable to commit to bottle-feeding orphaned kittens around the clock, foster care may be an option. Kitten fostering programs take in orphaned litters and place them with trained foster parents. The foster parents take on feeding and caring for the kittens until they are old enough to be adopted.

Fostering is a great way to provide orphaned kittens with specialized round-the-clock care while freeing up your own time. The kitten benefits from an experienced foster parent along with oversight from a rescue organization. Once the kittens are weaned and socialized, they can be adopted out to new forever homes.

Check with local animal shelters and rescue groups to learn about kitten-fostering programs in your area. If you have the time and commitment, becoming a foster parent can be very rewarding and help give orphaned kittens a second chance.

Final Notes,

Homemade milk replacers are the perfect alternative for kittens that are unable to milk from their mother. They are safe and have no detrimental effects on the kittens fed. If you find this piece helpful, support us by sharing it with other cat owners for better awareness.

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