How Often Should I Feed A 6-Week-Old Kitten?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have just adopted an abandoned kitten from work. She is now 4 weeks old and I am bottle feeding her. I bring her to work every day but I can’t keep bringing her, so I wanted to know when it’s safe to leave her home. When she’s 6 weeks old, will I be able to leave her alone for 9 to 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, with a bowl of food, water, toys, scratch mat and litter box, or will she still need to be fed three to four times a day? I love my little angel and I don’t want anything to happen to her!

~ Amanda

Siouxsie: First of all, Amanda, thank you for taking on the care of this little one and helping her grow up to be a strong and healthy cat.

Thomas: If this kitten were still with her mother, she would start becoming interested in solid food by about 4 weeks old, but she could continue to nurse for 6 to 10 weeks. But the good news for those humans raising bottle babies is that kittens can be started on weaning at about 3-1/2 weeks of age.

Dahlia: So if you aren’t already doing so, we’d recommend that you start giving her regular cat food for some of her feedings. Be sure that when doing so, you give her kitten food; she needs the extra nutrition it provides.

Siouxsie: This will be easier if you start with canned food, because at her age, she’s still much too small to manage dry kibble. Mama adopted my sister Sinéad and me when we were 6 weeks old (it was a long time ago, and she didn’t know better back then), and when she fed us dry food we couldn’t eat it!

Thomas: The authors of the Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook say to begin with two parts of canned food to one part of water or kitten milk replacer. Stir it together and let it warm up to room temperature (cold food will shock your kitty’s tummy and might maker her vomit), then put it in a shallow saucer and dip your finger into the mixture and let her lick it off, in order to get her interested. This mixture should be offered three or four times a day.

Siouxsie, 6 weeks old

Siouxsie at 6 or 7 weeks old, investigating her kitten replacement milk and gruel dinner.

Dahlia: Or you can do what Mama did for Sinéad and Siouxsie, which was basically the same procedure as above, but she mixed one part dry kitten kibble with three parts water or kitten milk.

Siouxsie: Most of the sources we’ve seen say that kittens should be offered food three to four times a day until they’re 7 weeks old. By that time you should be able to offer them two feedings a day.

Thomas: Cat rescue groups in your area might have some good advice, learned from experience, on how to wean bottle-fed kittens in the healthiest possible way.

Dahlia: You’ll find a good collection of advice about feeding, developmental milestones, and vaccinations online at the Kitten Rescue site.

Siouxsie: Rose Hines, a veterinarian, has written a guide to hand-raising and bottle feeding kittens. This starts with the assumption that you’ve found an infant kitten, but it does go on to provide advice about the later stages of your kitten’s growth, too.

Thomas: One thing you’ll find is that these resources often offer conflicting information about when to vaccinate, what to feed, and so on. So we have one more recommendation for you: If you’re not already working with a veterinarian, you should.

Dahlia: A vet will be able to give you the best instructions for making sure your kitten gets the best possible nutrition. Because the vet will actually be able to see and examine your kitten, he or she will be able to tailor advice just for your kitten, as opposed to the general information we’ve given you here.

Siouxsie: Your vet will be able to help you keep your kitten healthy in all kinds of other ways, too. Vaccinations, deworming and spaying (when she’s old enough) are only a few of the things vets can do.

Thomas: Vets love to help people understand the best possible ways to take care of their pets, and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get a vet like our Doctor Jim, who’s glad to answer any questions Mama has about how to take good care of us — and even the random nerdy questions she comes up with from time to time!

Dahlia: Good luck, Amanda. Please let us know how things turn out with your sweet little angel!

  • teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz

    Good advice! As you recommended, I mix canned kitten food with equal amounts of water and mash it up so it’s easy to lap up. There are varying recommendations on how long to leave it down, but 20 minutes seems about average. I worry about it spoiling if left down too long. The dry food I love to start my kittens on is Royal Canin Baby Cat (in the pink bag) as the kibble is very very small and easy for a kitten to eat.

  • Random Felines

    Good for you for taking on this baby!!! It is hard but seriously rewarding.

    Mom just did this last fall. At about 4 weeks old she introduced canned kitten food with KMR mixed it. She spent a good part of the day trying to convince Bug to eat canned food and Bug spent most of the day following her around begging for a bottle. However, Mom won and Bug discovered canned food – but it was MESSY!!! She started out just putting some on her finger and putting it in Bug’s mouth to get her to taste it. To the day she was adopted she would “slurp” canned food. :) Mom introduced dry food about 2 weeks after that.

  • Angel

    Hi there! My 6 week old kitten demands to be fed 3-4 times per day. I do a combo of wet(or dry moistened with kitty milk) kitten food with a bit(1 can kitten food to about 3 tbsp) of plain, full fat yogurt, & goats milk(not cows milk! 1 can kitten food to 4+ tbsp depending on if u used wet or dry food) in the beginning 4-6 x’s/day (@ about 4 weeks-depending on how well mom is doing, size of litter, etc.,). I’ve been around kitties all my life and this concoction has worked well, even on the picky eaters! The yogurt really balances the bacteria in the gut. I’ve seen kitties on regular food and some have constipation(dry food, not enough water) while I’ve seen others with runny stools(wet food). I hate to brag(no, I don’t. Lol) but my kitties have near perfect poo! Haha I hope this post makes sense, Ive had to stop several times b/c of my 3 year old and only skimmed thru quickly before posting…good luck to all the kitty moms & dads out there!

  • http://pawsandeffect preston

    dear paws and effect, ive just rescued a small 6 week old kitten from underneith my trailor ive been feedin it cow milk is that good for a kitten ?????

  • Emma

    Cows milk isnt ideal for a kitten as it is high in lactose but i have been told by the vet that kittens prefer it as it tastes better than ordinary milk, which is also high in lactose. If you are going to give them this then dilute it a little with water and slowly ween them off of milk altogether, until they just need water. This will also be cheaper for you in the long run.
    Ideally buy kitten milk which is lower in lactose and has all the nutrients needed. Whiskers do 3 bottles for around £1.99 which offers 12 servings.

  • michelle

    hi i have to near 6week kittensi think i have give them kitten meat but seem to be going to poop alot is this normal?

  • Panda

    Hii yall so i just adopted a 6-week-old kitten shed beautiful and she wont pee or poop but she keeps eating and her previous owners weaned her on dry kibble already is that too soon or what should i do please help me