19 June 2016

Homemade Kitten Formula

Orphan kittens ideally should be placed with a nursing queen to get cat milk.  This is not often possible, so caregivers must find a substitute. 

The simplest is fresh, raw goat milk, or even a commercial version.

If this is not available, then either commercial kitten milk (such as KMR) or a homemade version needs to be used.

Under no circumstances should only cow's milk be fed - it lacks important nutrients for kitten growth and there are reports of severe diarrhea when fed exclusively.

The Recipe:
Ingredients for 1-¼ cups kitten formula:

1 cup of goat milk (if unavailable, whole milk can be used but is not preferred)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons of powdered protein
1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast
110 mg of powdered calcium
1-day dose of vitamins formulated for adult cats

You'll also need a mixing bowl, a hand mixer, a saucepan, and a small nursing bottle.
Beat the egg, and thoroughly stir in the remaining ingredients. Warm the formula in a small nursing bottle by placing it into a cup or bowl of hot water. Test the formula on the underside of your wrist to check the temperature. If the formula is too hot, wait until the formula cools down. If the formula is too cold, continue soaking the bottle in hot water. Always be sure to test the formula again before giving it to the kitten.
Never re-use formula that you have warmed. Discard it and use fresh formula for each feed.

There is concern among some kitten fosterers about the use of any cow's milk with kittens.  There concern centers on the lactose content of the cow's milk.  Here are the lactose levels in various milks:

cat milk  4% (constant from birth to weaning)
cow milk  4.5-4.9%  (various authors report different figures)
goat milk  4.1% (or 10% less than cow milk, so 4.1-4.4%)

Feline nutritional experts also agree -- young kittens can digest lactose (obvious from it being in mother's milk), but as they mature to adults, some cats lose this ability and become lactose intolerant.

Lastly, almost all commercial kitten formulas, except where clearly labelled as derived from goat milk, are all make using cow milk in various forms -- casein, powdered milk, whey, etc.