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It's important to make sure the formula you choose for your kittens is fresh or they could become sick. (Photo by Cynthia Kung)

It's important to make sure the formula you choose for your kittens is fresh or they could become sick.

Photo by Cynthia Kung

NYC Eartips: Spring 2010

Problems Reported with KMR Powdered Kitten Milk Replacer

by Valerie Sicignano, NYC Feral Cat Initiative

NYC Eartips thanks Tammy Cross of Kitten Little Rescue, a Mayor's Alliance Participating Organization, for input for this article.

There have been conflicting reports about the safety of PetAg's powdered KMR kitten milk replacer. It is true that some consumers reported rancid formula to the company. PetAg reports that all formula that left its manufacturing plant was good, but speculate that some cans of formula might have spoiled while sitting on the trucks of delivery companies in the summer heat. If you use powdered KMR milk replacer for kittens, be aware that there may be some rancid formula remaining on retail shelves, in shelters, and at vet's offices.

Articles appearing on the Internet concerning PetAg being investigated and found guilty by the FDA are false. Also false are blog posts that claim the company manufactures this product in China, and that it contains harmful chemicals. KMR contains no chemical preservatives.

If the formula is spoiled, it will make kittens sick and, if fed continuously, can be life-threatening to the kittens. A kitten that consumes rancid formula might vomit, have diarrhea, and/or refuse to feed. If feeding using the rancid formula is continued, the kitten might die as a result of dehydration from the diarrhea. Even one feeding can make a kitten sick with diarrhea, which will require treatment with antibiotics. If you believe you have fed rancid formula to kittens, they should be treated by a veterinarian.

PetAg has since changed the way the KMR powder product is manufactured, making it less sensitive to heat stress. But it would still be prudent to sniff each can you open to be sure that the formula has maintained its freshness.

Here's how to determine the difference between rancid powdered KMR and fresh formula that is safe to feed. These tips apply to all brands of powdered kitten milk replacer.

Check the expiration date and discard any cans at or past their expiration dates.

When you open the aluminum pop-top, smell the formula. Safe formula should have a vaguely sweet smell or, at the very least, should smell like powdered milk. If it smells like anything else, no matter how slight, such as chemicals, cheese, bad cooking oil, or even just a slightly "sharp" smell, it is rancid and dangerous to feed to kittens.

Once opened, the can of KMR powdered formula must be refrigerated!

If you believe you have purchased a can of rancid KMR Formula, contact PetAg at 1-800-323-0877 or dhoffman@petag.com.

Alternative Milk Replacers

Purchase Kitten Formula

Revival Animal Health sells several brands of powdered and canned kitten milk replacer.

Recipe for Homemade Kitten Formula

Tammy Cross of Kitten Little Rescue has created a Recipe for Homemade Kitten Formula.

About the Author

Valerie Sicignano is Director of Special Events & Training for the New York City Feral Cat Initiative and has been working with feral cats in New York City since 1990. She holds a Certificate in Humane Education from the ASPCA, and her work with animals has been recognized by the Manhattan Pet Gazette's "Animal Guardian Award" and In Defense of Animals' "Companion Animal Guardian Award."