Tube Feeding Kitten Guide
Make sure to measure the tube and mark before use. You will want to measure from the end of the tube (end with holes) at the last rib of the kitten to the nostril. Next mark the tube with a permanent marker to ensure you do not insert the tube any further than this mark. The tube is typically 15-16 inches in length to allow for different lengths of kittens to be tube fed but also for the kitten to grow. Always check the length of the tube to ensure that you are not inserting too far and are inserting far enough to reach the kitten’s stomach.
The best way to learn to tube feed is by having your local veterinarian or veterinarian technician demonstrate on a kitten and then you feed the rest of the litter at the clinic under supervision.
Draw up slightly more formula into the syringe and catheter than is needed of the kitten. Place the kitten on a towel in your lap with the head and chest on a slight upward incline. Hold the back of the kitten’s head gently. Open the kitten’s mouth with the same hand. Direct the tube into the front of the kitten’s mouth (NOT from the side). Do not force the tube to go in. The kitten will reflexively swallow when the tube is at the esophagus. IF the kitten does not swallow and you force the tube, it could end up in the trachea. Once the kitten swallows, the tube should slide easily to the point you have marked in the tube. Once it is in the proper location, very slowly depress the plunger on the syringe.
The tube should be withdrawn after feeding half of the meal and the kitten should be burped. After burping, reinsert the tube and feed the rest of the meal. Burp the kitten again and stimulate for urination and defecation. After the feeding, the kitten’s abdomen should appear rounded and full.
Do not overfeed and overdistend the abdomen. This will cause the kitten pain, causing it to struggle and cry.
If the kitten coughs or gags when you start to depress the plunger, withdraw the feeding tube and start over. You may have the tube in the trachea. If you continue to inject the formula, the kitten may get aspiration pneumonia or suffocate.
If the kitten regurgitates or vomits the food, do not feed it again at that meal time. If it occurs for 2 meals in a row, contact your local veterinarian.