How to Get a Kitten to Eat Out of a Dish

Kittens start lapping liquid food at about 4 weeks.

Kittens start lapping liquid food at about 4 weeks.

A cat usually starts weaning her kittens when they're about 4 weeks of age. Orphaned kittens can learn to eat out of a dish at the same age. The process takes some patience; but after about four to six weeks, your kitten will be eating hard food.

Pour kitten milk replacer in a small dish. Set your kitten next to the bowl. Dip your fingertip into the milk replacer and touch it to her mouth. She should lick the liquid off your fingertip.

Repeat offering milk replacer on your fingertip a few times. Slowly move a fingertip into the bowl to guide her to the liquid. She should follow your finger, get the idea and start lapping from the bowl. Kittens lap slowly at first, so be patient. Offer her milk replacer in a bottle if she laps only a small bit from the bowl, or allow her access to her mom to fill her tummy.

Wash your kitten with a damp washcloth after each feeding. She will generally have some milk replacer on her face and maybe her paws from learning to eat. Dry your kitty with a towel and place her in a warm area until she is thoroughly dry.

Place a small bowl of fresh water where it is obtainable to your kitten at all times. She may play in it at first or spill some, but that is part of the learning process.

Continue feeding your kitten milk replacer for a few weeks in a dish. She will eventually fill herself by lapping enough liquids. At this point, introduce her to solid foods.

Introduce your kitten to solids foods by mixing either hard or canned kitten food with kitten milk replacer. Pour some milk replacer in a bowl with the food. Allow hard kitten food to become soft in the milk replacer. Mix the food with a spoon to make a gruel that is about the consistency of oatmeal.

Thicken the gruel by adding less kitten milk replacer every few days over the course of a few weeks. Eventually, your kitten will be eating solid food only at the age of 8 to 10 weeks.

Items you will need

  • Kitten milk replacer
  • Water and food bowls
  • Dry kitten food
  • Canned kitten food
  • Spoon
  • Damp cloth
  • Towel


  • Use a shallow bowl to teach your kitten to eat out of a dish. It is easier for her to lap without reaching over a tall edge of a larger bowl.
  • Place a kitten, at about 4 weeks old, in a room separate from mom to start weaning her and teach her to eat on her own. This will reduce her dependency on mom’s milk.
  • You can offer an orphaned kitty milk replacer out of a bowl and then finish feeding her with a bottle until she is full.


  • Never push a kitten’s nose into a bowl of food or milk replacer. Thee cat can inhale it and get fluid in her lungs, causing pneumonia or aspiration.
  • Feed your young feline kitten food until she reaches 1 year old. Kitten food is formulated with more of the protein she needs for energy and growth.

Video of the Day

Brought to you by Cuteness
Brought to you by Cuteness

About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

Photo Credits

  • white kitten image by Alexandra Thompson from Fotolia.com