If you're caring for a kitten who appears too weak to feed, notify your veterinarian of the matter as soon as possible. In the meantime, she may advise you to encourage the little one to nurse by using Karo syrup. Karo syrup is a type of concentrated corn syrup that can be effective for getting kittens to feed because it stimulates their suckling reactions.
Karo Syrup and Suckling
If you're bottle feeding a kitten and notice that he just won't suckle the bottle nipple, massage a little Karo syrup onto the kitten's lips, then offer him the bottle again. People often use Karo syrup to promote eating in kittens because it's easy for them to digest. Vets sometimes advise owners to encourage feeding in kittens by putting Karo syrup on their tongues or gums instead of on their lips. All methods are acceptable.
Low Blood Sugar
A lack of appetite in kittens can sometimes signify low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Karo syrup can be effective for boosting kittens' blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia is frequently caused by inadequate food intake, but is usually simple to reverse. In addition to lack of appetite, other common signs of hypoglycemia in kittens include weakness, tremors and falling down. If you have any reason to think that a kitten you're caring for has hypoglycemia, notify your vet immediately. While your vet may instruct you to increase your kitten's blood sugar levels by rubbing Karo syrup onto his lips, gums or tongue, she also may suggest you give a larger dose of the syrup to him orally via syringe. Don't take action until she gives you specific instructions.
Never ignore a kitten who isn't nursing sufficiently. A kitten who doesn't feed enough or at all is at risk of a variety of dangerous medical conditions including dehydration. Going a long time without eating can cause a kitten's stomach to shut down, which can lead to death.