- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


How to teach kitty to drink from bowl?

August 12th, 2008, 08:49 PM
I found two stray kittens over 2 wks ago. One died last wk :-( and the other is doing fine, growing like a weed. He is around 5 wks old.

How do I get him to drink from a bowl? He is still on formula. We have tried dipping a finger in the formula and wiping it on his mouth and tried to encourage him to drink from the bowl, but so far we are getting nowhere. Perhaps he's still too young?

I'd like some suggestions as to how to accomplish this. He's a nice kitten, I enjoy him most of the time but these feedings are getting to me.


August 12th, 2008, 09:03 PM
Sorry to hear that one of the kitties died. Do you know what from?

As for the other guy, it's likely that he's getting enough water from the formula (what kind of formula is it?). When cats eat a moisture-rich diet (75% water content), they rarely need to drink extra water.

August 12th, 2008, 09:03 PM
Thanks for taking these kitties in. Have you been to see a vet with him yet? Perhaps he's younger than 5 weeks and not ready yet?

August 13th, 2008, 07:16 AM
Kittens who are getting enough water from their food will rarely drink water. I water down my foster kittens (canned and raw) food and I very, very rarely see them drinking. Most of the time it is a couple of licks just to check it out, then they are on their way to play again.

August 13th, 2008, 07:18 AM
At five weeks you should be weaning the kittens off formula, they can actually be eating a quality raw/canned diet right now so you don't have to nurse them anymore.

August 14th, 2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks for the replies. The formula is from the vet, called MammaLac, a powder you mix with water. It's almost all gone and I have a couple of tetra packs of Whiskas milk for kittens, which kitty just loves. It's thicker than the vet stuff so I think it stays with him longer so that he is sleeping longer at nite.

I havent been trying to get him to drink water, rather trying to get him to drink the formula from a bowl. He just doesnt seem to get it.

We have one can of kitten food from the vet and he didnt like it a few days ago, so I wondered if he was just too young for it. I think it's time to try again.

Hubby tried the formula in the bowl last nite when kitty had woken up from a nap, and he was hungry, he just didnt seem to figure out how to drink from the bowl..

I appreciate all the replies and if anyone has more comments, I'd like to read them.


August 15th, 2008, 06:57 AM
When I had my first batch of foster kittens, they too did not know what to do with their food, they walked in it, played in it, everything except eat it. :laughing:

After a while when they were very hungry they did learn it was food.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, these kittens should be off formula and on a raw/high quality canned cat food (I wouldn't recommend that kittens be totally weaned from their momma at five weeks, but off formula if there is no momma present)

I had a second batch of foster kittens that did not recognize cat food as food, I fed them raw and they devoured it, then onto some Kitten Wellness canned for their morning feeding and raw (formulated prepared raw diet) for their other two feedings.

Check the ingredients in the cat food you have, if it is not meat they may not recognize it as food.

Have you tried mixing formula with some cat food?

August 15th, 2008, 07:13 AM
L4H has given great advice as usual. It is very important to get this little guy onto a high quality food. Wellness, Eagle Pack Holistics, Evo are all good foods.
I know your query was how to get the kitten to drink out of a bowl but really, at this age, the kitty should be getting weaned off of milk all together. Could you try a little of the canned food on your finger to entice him to eat? If he shows no interest maybe open his mouth gently and put a small amount in his mouth. It won't take long for him to figure out it's good. There is lots of water in canned cat food. Try to not ever start him on kibble (dry) as it is not good quality and not good for cats in general.
As for drinking from a bowl.. he will catch on eventually. Maybe just try water in the bowl instead of the milk. Just my :2cents:

August 17th, 2008, 07:30 PM
Ok, here I am again as we are still not winning the battle. Kitty is about 4-5 wks old. He just wont drink formula or water from a bowl. I've tried the finger dipping in the liquid and wiping it on his mouth and he'll take it that way but it doesnt work when I lower my finger down to the bowl. I have put the canned food in his mouth and wiped it on his lips. He will eat that but he wont go after it on his own.

Hubby is a really patient person so he's doing more of this than I am because I get fed up. I think hubby spends too much time patting and rubbing kitty rather than trying to get him to drink from a bowl, but at the same time we dont want to freak out kitty by being too forceful. We need a happy medium.

I've mixed formula and water into the canned food with no luck.

I'd love to get this guy off formula and onto the next stage but he doesnt seem interested. I hope someone has some more ideas, I've read every post twice in case I missed something, but I havent. HELP!


August 17th, 2008, 07:33 PM
When you say feed him raw food, what exactly do you mean?

August 17th, 2008, 07:36 PM
All I can tell you is that patience is the key. I know it may be frustrating for you but think how this poor kitty with no momma may feel. He isn't getting the usual cleanings a loving mommy would give him. He isn't getting to curl up next to her warmth to sleep knowing that she will be there for him when he wakes up. He isn't getting the comfort of her teat. It's that simple. It's that hard.
Please keep at it. Very soon he will catch on and you will wonder what all the fuss was about. :thumbs up

August 17th, 2008, 07:50 PM
Maybe try something irresistible and strong smelling to get him started. Plain chicken baby food (no onions!) is very appealing to most cats (but only good for intermittent or short-term feeding as it's not balanced). Or get some canned food like Fancy Feast, sprinkle stinky bonito flakes on top and see where that gets you.

August 18th, 2008, 08:09 AM
Thanks folks, patience does seem to be the key here. Hubby spent over an hour on the floor with kitty last nite and basically got nowhere. We did try the canned food again, watered down. Tried some baby food I had on hand...I'll get some Fancy Feast today. I dont know what bonito flakes are.


August 18th, 2008, 09:48 AM
Raw food:

You can purchase prepared raw food at quality pet food stores so all you have to do is thaw (in fridge takes 24 hours) and serve (I heat up a bit of water in the microwave and add it to the food, makes it easy for kittens to eat). I buy Natures Variety Raw, they are small medallions that have the bones finely ground so you don't have to worry about them with their tiny teeth. I find my foster kittens seem to take to raw before they take to canned. Maybe it is because it is their natural food.

As for patience, yes, kittens require a lot of patience, :laughing:.

Maybe you kitten is not hungry enough to try the new food. Momma cats normally force weaning on her kittens by lying on their tummies and not allowing kittens to nurse. That way they are hungry enough to try the food momma brings back to them.

Good luck.

August 18th, 2008, 11:04 AM
I live in a rural area and there's just one pet store around here. I'll have to go see what they have on hand.

We've tried several times to get him to drink from a bowl when he wakes up from a long nap and ought to be hungry.

I got some Fancy Feast chicken today, maybe that'll entice him!


August 19th, 2008, 01:34 AM
Try having the kitten in front of the bowl, dip your finger in the water & gently move your finger back & forth to create small "ripples" in the water. Often this will spark their interest in the contents of the bowl. Usually they will stick their nose in the water trying to smell it & end up licking the water off their nose. :goodvibes:

August 20th, 2008, 08:07 PM
Thanks for the idea, I'll give it a try.


August 29th, 2008, 07:43 PM
Well we finally had some success with getting Mookie to eat off of a saucer. All the canned cat food pates we'd tried he didnt like. Finally I tried one with tuna and chicken and he ate it. Hubby dipped his finger in the food and Mookie licked it off as hubby lowered his finger to the food on the saucer. Mookie did eat most of it.

Today I tried that with him and had him eating off the saucer fairly well. He also slept better last nite, he didnt even wake up at 6am when son got up for work. Hubby and I had been taking turns getting up at 6am to feed Mookie and it was my turn today. I finally got him up at 7am when I got up.

So hopefully this is the start of getting him off his bottle and onto cat food. I have a couple more tetra paks of kitten milk and when that's gone, he can drink water. He does drink water from the dog's bowl.


August 29th, 2008, 09:41 PM
Very glad to hear that! It's exciting to see them grow up but I bet you will miss the kitten stage. Even the early morning feedings.
:highfive: Good Job!!!

August 30th, 2008, 12:21 AM
Good job :thumbs up

Funny how the kitties love drinking from the dog's bowl when then won't out of their own :laughing::D

August 31st, 2008, 10:51 AM
Oh I still have those early morning feedings and I truly hate it. He was up at 6:30 this morning and it was my turn to feed him. I was not amused.

He is doing better at eating from a saucer, thankfully. The only thing there is he wont eat from the bowl if it's on the floor, it needs to be on my or hubby's lap. So that's the next challenge.

He's about 7 wks old now.