How To Syringe Feed Your Cat (The Simple Way)
Have you ever had a cat that allowed you to love it? Did you love it so much that you (or your loved ones) had to go through great pains to keep it happy and healthy? Did that entail painstakingly cuddle wrestling your feisty feline just to squirt a syringe of fluid down its throat before it sank sharp claws further into your arm? And did you remember to apologize to your cat for putting it in the position to use its claws in the first place?
Yes. I have been there, too.
Without a proper guide on how to syringe feed your cat, it is no easy task. But you’re in luck because my cat has trained me well. Open wide!
What You Will Need
- A cat who either can not or will not eat on its own.
- Kittens sometimes are separated from their mothers before they have weaned and cannot take in solid food yet.
- Adult cats sometimes become ill and lose their appetites.
- Feeding syringe (no needle needed!).
- Syringes are sometimes used instead of bottles because they require less effort from the cat, and they provide a quicker (and therefore simpler) assisted feeding process.
- Paper towels or wet wipes for cleaning as you go.
- Calories (Food amount will be unique to every feeding situation).
- Kittens will need a formula of milk replacer (not dairy, as your kitten is not a calf).
- Adult cats will vary but nutritious, liquidy mush is the goal. Your veterinarian can make a recommendation based on your cat’s health needs and size.
- The only way to be sure about how much to syringe feed your cat is by talking to your vet. If you are working with a stray and don’t have a regular vet, try calling an animal shelter to see what services are available.
- Puppy pad (or any other catchall to contain the mess you and your kitty are going to make).
- A warm, dry towel (For Kitty’s security and your safety).
- (Optional) A human who loves you and your cat enough to help.
Step 1: Watch video below
Thanks for modeling syringe feeding for us, Buddha!
Cats are syringe fed all the time. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Having an animal professional like the one in this video explain and demonstrate the process will help you to mentally prepare.
Step 2: Prepare the Meal
Make sure that your cat’s food is room temperature and is the correct consistency. Kittens will need a more liquid substance than an adult cat will, but growing cats may benefit from a mix of the two. Again, clear your food choice with a vet. Some sick cats may be made sicker by certain foods.
I found it helpful to use a small syringe. Although it was not able to hold as much food, I had better control over it and was better able to maneuver the syringe into my grumpy cat’s mouth.
The food can be loaded into the syringe in two different ways.
The first way is to fully close the syringe, place the tip into the liquidy food, and then suck it up by pulling back the plunger.
The second way is for food that is more solid. Simply remove the back plunger and use a small butter knife to lift up the food and slide it into the back end. It will be quite messy!
Now it’s time for the fun part of syringe feeding!
- Pro-tip: Try to have a sidekick with this task! Tap your feeding plunger (back of the syringe) to remove air bubbles and get more food into the serving.
Step 3: Prepare Your Cat
Here you may need a safety partner.
If your cat is calm or small and manageable, you may be able to do this job yourself.
Get on the same level with your hungry cat. Use the warm, dry towel to wrap around your cat like a bib. With your catbaby almost tucked under the pit of your non-dominant arm, use the hand from that arm to calmly but firmly grasp the cat’s head from behind. With the head tilted slightly back, your cat is ready for feeding.
In my experience, I’ve found it helpful for the person who is calmest and most bonded with the cat to be the one to hold him. For this syringe feeding, you and your cat will both be safer by using the towel to form a kitty burrito. The towel should come around the neck like a bib, but it should also drape over Kitty’s front paws. Here, the holder of the burrito will use both hands to clutch the cat’s front paws. Once kitty is safely restrained, feeding can begin.
- Tip: Get a hold of yourself and make sure you are calm before approaching your cat. Your cat will not like it if you stress him or her out!
Step 4: Fill it Up!
Aim the syringe to the side or back corner of the cat’s mouth. The kitty may object to this because it is weird and intrusive, so dispense the food slowly. After you’ve given a small amount, remove the syringe from the cat’s mouth to give him time to realize he must swallow the food.
If your cat doesn’t want to swallow a, you may have to use your hand to keep the mouth shut. It’s important for the health of your kitty to get those calories in there.
You are sure to make a mess, so keep extra paper towels around to clean up as you go.
These steps must be repeated throughout the day so that your cat gets the nutrients she needs, but doesn’t end up with a belly ache from eating too much.
- Tip: Take your time. There is no rushing through a task like syringe feeding your kitty. Use patience!
The realest piece of advice I have for you as you embark on this journey of having to syringe feed your cat, just make sure that you are genuinely calm when handling him. He can sense your stress and he will become stressed, too. Give him a head start on successful recovery by keeping a steady and positive attitude.
Did you find the tips in this tutorial helpful for learning to syringe feed your cat? I wish I had taken the steps in this guide before learning it the hard way, but I am happy to share it with you. If you think this guide is helpful for cat owner or cat caretakers, please take a moment to share it with your friends. If you feel I have left something out, please let me know! Also, I would love learning about the quirks of your own cats. Please share a story or other feedback in the comments!