If you're taking care of an orphaned feline, human formula isn't the best food for her. You should stick with a kitten milk replacement to ensure her long-term health, but in a pinch, human baby formula may tide you over until you can make it to the pet store.
Feeding Orphaned Kittens
The most appropriate food for a newborn kitten is her mother's milk, but if she's been abandoned, that might not be available as an option. If you have to act as a surrogate mommy to a tiny feline, you should choose a commercially available feline milk replacer. Only a properly formulated milk replacer can ensure your little friend gets the proper vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins she needs in the correct amounts. Human formulas are created to fill the needs of human infants, and the ratio of nutrients is different from a kitten's needs.
Human Formula for Emergency Use
In an emergency, you may be able to use powdered or concentrated human baby formula to sustain an orphaned kitten until you can get some regular feline milk replacer. However, you need to ignore the directions on the package. Instead, make up the formula at twice the strength indicated for human babies. Alternately, you can make a temporary formula using one can of evaporated milk, one egg yolk and two tablespoons of Karo syrup.
After about three to four weeks of age, your kitten can start eating solid foods. However, even after she has weaned, your kitten should still not consume human baby formula, even as a treat. Because human baby formula is made from cow's milk, it is high in lactose. While a newborn kitten can digest lactose, which is also found in a mother cat's milk, kittens lose that ability shortly after they are weaned. For this reason, a kitten or cat should also not be given cow's milk.
Human formula can be dangerous for medically fragile kittens. They can cause diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. In a kitten who is already weak, dehydration can be potentially fatal. If you have to give your kitten human formula for any reason, choose one that is iron-free to avoid an overdose of iron. A goat's milk-based formula may be more easily digested than one made from cow's milk.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Bridget Coila specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Her articles have appeared in Oxygen, American Fitness and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.