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What To Feed A 5-Week-Old Kitten Without Mom?

What To Feed A 5-Week-Old Kitten Without Mom?

It’s hard to imagine anything more adorable than a newborn kitten.

Together with being so unbelievably cute, young kittens are also delicate and vulnerable. They need food, protection, and warmth to thrive.

In normal circumstances, a mother cat is the one that provides her offspring with all these. Thanks to her care, newborn kittens grow up to be strong and independent cats.

However, not all kittens will have a mother by their side. If you’re struggling with raising a young kitten, this is the right place for you.

What to feed a 5-week-old kitten without a mom?

Let’s find out the answer to this question, as well as how often it’s supposed to eat, and how to see if it’s progressing well.

What Should A 5-Week-Old Kitten Eat?

kitten eating milk from bottle

Kittens who grow up with a mother on their side will nurse for as long as their momma will let them.

In most cases, weaning occurs when kittens are about six to eight weeks old. Denise Van Lent and her associates [1] explain how weaning is a period of replacing a mother’s milk with an adult diet that contains less fat and more carbohydrates.

During the period from birth to four weeks old, orphaned kittens should be fed a high-quality kitten formula. When they’re about four to six weeks old, they can start trying to eat solid food.

Therefore, when your kitten reaches around five weeks of age, you can start feeding it with mushy, canned kitten food. You’ll need to give your kitten a combination of kitten formula and wet kitten food during this period.

The kitten may seem a bit lost and could even have a hard time figuring out how to eat. You can help it here by gently guiding its nose into the food.

Make sure you serve the food in a shallow bowl to make it easier for your kitten to get to its meal. The kitten will soon get the idea of how to eat this new food.

Later on, when a kitten gets accustomed to independent eating, you should also start giving it dry kibble. This should be done at around seven weeks of age.

How Much Should A 5-Week-Old Kitten Eat?

adorable kitten walking

Offering the ideal amount of food is crucial for young kittens. You want to ensure your kitten is progressing, but you also want to prevent it from becoming obese.

According to the kitten feeding chart by age, a kitten four to five weeks old should eat around 18-22 ml of kitten formula combined with wet food. It should have a meal every four to six hours.

Of course, water intake is also very important here. You should provide your young kitten with fresh and clean water available at all times.

How To Know The Kitten Is Progressing?

A healthy five-week-old kitten should weigh 14 ounces to 1.8 pounds.

As suggested by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, kittens should gain about ½ ounces per day or 4 ounces per week. 

You can determine whether your little feline friend is progressing by simply weighing it daily. In case you notice a severe deviation in its weight, you should reach out to a veterinarian.

The kitten may have an underlying health problem that’s causing it not to progress as it should.

Also, it’s possible that the kitten is not putting on enough weight simply because it isn’t eating enough.

What To Do If The Kitten Isn’t Eating?

kitten sneaking around the food

Not all kittens will successfully start to eat on their own.

Runt kittens are especially likely to have these problems. In this case, a kitten will need supplemental syringe feeding for a while.

To encourage your kitten to eat, you need to ensure that the wet food you’re giving to your kitten is warm enough. You should warm it to body temperature to make it more appealing for your kitty.

Furthermore, the food should be served in a glass or ceramic bowl that’s wide and shallow. 

The food bowl should always be spotlessly clean, since felines really hate filth.

Another important consideration is providing your kitten with privacy during mealtime. 

Some kittens simply dislike having company while eating.

Always remember that, for a kitten to survive, it needs to consume sufficient nutrients to maintain its strength.

If nothing seems to help to encourage your kitten to eat, you should consult a veterinarian.

What Are The Chances For A Young Kitten Without A Mother To Survive?

kitten eats from orange bowl

A mother cat’s role is crucial for her offspring, just like it is with both all other animals and humans.

A newborn kitten’s survival rate is decreased without their mother on their side. However, this doesn’t mean that this vulnerable little kitten doesn’t have another chance. Especially when it has a loving human to take care of it!

Maddie’s Fund points out how a failure to thrive and gain weight is one of the deciding factors in kitten morbidity and mortality. By monitoring body weight daily, you can identify the potential high risk for your kitten and ask for veterinary help.

To be completely honest, this isn’t an easy task. You need to ensure your kitten is fed with quality food. The five-week mark is one of the most challenging periods in this process, since this is when kittens are usually weaned.

Also, young kittens have delicate gastrointestinal systems. Weaning can be especially stressful for them and can cause troubles like diarrhea.

This may sound like too much for many of you. However, I assure you that nothing beats the feeling of helping an orphaned kitten.

This is just a short period in your life, but the most significant one for your young kitten. Once it gets through the period of weaning, learning how to eat on its own, and transitioning to solid foods, your little kitten will begin its journey to becoming a strong and independent cat.

Final Words

What to feed a 5-week-old kitten without a mom?

This is the period when mother cats typically start weaning their offspring. This means that you should also start combining kitten formula with wet food around this age.

Regular and quality nutrition is one of the prerequisites for a young kitten to thrive. The lack of mother care in this fragile period is a severe downside for orphaned kittens.

However, with a lot of dedicated care and education, you can make a terrific substitute and help a fragile kitten survive and succeed.

I hope this article provided you with essential information on feeding instructions for a 5-week-old kitten. I suggest you use a high-quality kitten formula, as well as kitten wet food.

Things may seem to be challenging in the beginning, but remember that every beginning is like this. Your kitten will get used to the new food with time and will start accepting it well.

You should consult your veterinarian for any additional questions and doubts.


[1] Van Lent D, Vernooij JCM, Corbee RJ. Kittens That Nurse 7 Weeks or Longer Are Less Likely to Become Overweight Adult Cats. Animals (Basel). 2021 Dec 1;11(12):3434. DOI, Retrieved December 5, 2023.

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