How to Dilute Cow Milk for Kittens

how to dilute cow milk for kittens
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Kittens need a special diet in their first few weeks of life in order to grow and thrive. Cow’s milk can be an affordable option for kitten milk replacement, but it needs to be diluted properly for a kitten to digest. Cow’s milk has higher levels of fat, calories, and protein than a mother cat’s milk or kitten milk replacement formulas.

Choose the Right Type of Milk

The best milk to use is whole cow’s milk. This has higher fat content to meet a growing kitten’s needs. Do not use low-fat or skim milk, as the lower fat content is not suitable for kittens. Also avoid using plant-based milks like almond milk or coconut milk, as these do not contain the right nutrition for kittens.

how to make kitten formula with cow milk
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Diluting the Milk

Cow’s milk needs to be diluted with water before feeding it to kittens. The goal is to make the ratio similar to a mother cat’s milk. For the first 4 weeks, dilute the milk in the following proportions:

– Week 1 – 1 part milk to 3 parts water
– Week 2 – 1 part milk to 2 parts water
– Week 3 – 1 part milk to 1.5 parts water
– Week 4 – 1 part milk to 1 part water

So for week 1, mix 1 cup milk with 3 cups water. After week 4, kittens can start transitioning to undiluted cow’s milk or kitten wet food.

Warm the Milk

Always warm the diluted milk before feeding it to kittens. Cold milk can cause stomach upset. Heat the milk until it is body temperature or around 100°F. Test the temperature on your wrist before feeding it. The milk should feel warm but not hot.

Microwaving is the quickest way to warm the milk. Heat it for 5-10 seconds at a time, stirring in between until it reaches the right temperature. Avoid boiling the milk. You can also set the bowl of milk in a warm water bath to gently heat it.

Feeding the Milk

Bottle feed the kittens the diluted milk using kitten nurser bottles. It’s best to have at least two bottles so you can quickly sterilize and refill one while using the other. Kittens will need to be fed every 2-4 hours.

Let them feed until they stop suckling on their own. Kittens may take in around 8 ml per 100g body weight per day. Weigh them regularly to ensure they are gaining weight. Consult a vet if weight gain is too slow.

homemade kitten formula with cow milk
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Weaning Kittens

At around 4-5 weeks of age, kittens can start transitioning to wet kitten food mixed with undiluted cow’s milk. Gradually decrease the amount of milk and increase the amount of wet food over a 7-10 day period until they are eating just the wet food. Kittens can start eating dry food after 6-7 weeks old.


Diluting cow’s milk with water is essential to ensure proper nutrition when bottle feeding kittens. Gradually decrease the dilution until kittens are ready for undiluted milk and kitten foods. Warm the milk, use kitten bottles, and monitor weight gain. With the proper technique, cow’s milk can be a safe alternative for orphaned newborn kittens.


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