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ARGH - Eating litter but not food!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ms Friskers' darling little rascal kittens are right around 4 weeks old now, and have their little baby teeth (so cute). They're in serious exploration mode, causing lots of havoc.

Here's my dilemma: two of them have started eating the clay litter I have set out for them to use (not much of it, but each of the boys has swallowed a couple pieces, I believe). What they haven't done is a) use the litter for its intended purpose or b) expressed any interest in actual cat food. I've tried sticking their little mouths in KMR, and they'll lick it off their lips, but have no interest in it independently. And I've tried wet cat food on a plate, but they didn't particularly care for that either, in either of the flavors I've offered thus far. I figure since they don't really like KMR to begin with, there's no point mixing the food in there.

I feel like the fact that they're eating the darned litter OUGHT to mean that they're ready to start having some food along with mom's milk, but maybe I'm wrong? Should I bother trying to get them to eat, or just leave it alone? Ms Friskers is starting to nurse them less, I've noticed, though she hasn't started smacking them away or anything obviously.

Bah. Kittens!

I built them a little cardboard jungle gym, which they seem to like, at least.
post #2 of 11
4 week old kittens that are nursing well usually are NOT interested in solid foods/KMR, etc. But they will start tasting other things. Do not force them to eat solids. Wait another week or so to start that. A few nibbles of litter will not hurt them and they will only try that a few times.

If you feed mom with the kittens, they may start testing what she is eating if there is any food left.
post #3 of 11
IMO 4 weeks is MUCH to young to expect anything from them as far as eating cat food goes. If you have the mom I wouldn't even bother with KMR, just leave the kitten dry food out that you are feeding mom and she will eventually show them how to eat it. Since she is eating what they will need to eat and she has it available to her to free feed whenever she wants, she will show them when she and they are ready.

As for eating the litter, maybe try something like corn cob litter or something a little less clay and chemical-y.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
It's funny that you both say 4 weeks is much too young -- everything I've read online says that at 4 weeks, kittens will be supplementing their diet with solid foods -- and I've read about 20 websites or so! I was starting to worry mine were unclear on what food is and isn't!

All the websites also say that they should be using the litter box by themselves by four weeks too... which they also aren't doing. I guess mom is just letting them grow up slowly.

And there aren't any chemicals in my clay litter... just clay. As with toddlers, they'll survive eating a little bit of dirt.
post #5 of 11
i have had some success with mixing wet kitten food with dry kitten food i have soaked in water. I mixed them together to make almost a puree, and them warm it up a bit. seems to work well with 4-5 weeks old . Good Luck!
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoethor2 View Post
It's funny that you both say 4 weeks is much too young -- everything I've read online says that at 4 weeks, kittens will be supplementing their diet with solid foods -- and I've read about 20 websites or so! I was starting to worry mine were unclear on what food is and isn't!

All the websites also say that they should be using the litter box by themselves by four weeks too... which they also aren't doing. I guess mom is just letting them grow up slowly.

And there aren't any chemicals in my clay litter... just clay. As with toddlers, they'll survive eating a little bit of dirt.
I'm so glad to hear an update on Ms. Friskers kittens! Last I heard, she was being less than the ideal mother! But, they've made it this far, so she must be doing something right, eh?

Pennie's kittens are 5 weeks old today. Although I haven't tried to get them to eat food or use the litter box, they found it and started around the middle of last week. Believe me, you WANT to prolong this as long as possible! As soon as they started eating Pennie's food, she no longer took care of their business (don't blame her one bit, yeck!). As a result, we had several days where they were pooping all over the place. You'd think it's no big deal, they're tiny, right? Well, when it's multiplied by 5, it stinks the place up quick!! Thankfully, they are quick learners, and now, just a few days into this, they're making it to the litter box quite faithfully!


My guess is that they'll start within the week!
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Tee -- she still has the constant look on her face like she's counting the days until she can kick them out and make them stop nursing! It's quite adorable watching her when she's nursing them especially -- she looks so peeved.

But she's definitely doing all right by them, licking their little behinds and whatnot. The other kitties have also been introduced to the kittens, and our male, Imri, also keeps washing their butts for them. Adorable, though weird.

I keep hoping that the kittens will be like little emissaries and thus get an olive branch extended between Ms Friskers and our two pre-existing kitties... they do NOT get along at this point.
post #8 of 11
I've been breeding cats for more than 12 years

Clay litter is not good for kittens to ingest. It doesn't always cause problems, but it has the potential.

Get Swheat Scoop or Worlds Best to start them off on. If they eat it, it won't block their intestines up, as they are both grain type litters.

It's not common place for 4 week olds to start on solid foods. You may have some adventurous types that will start tasting, but usually it's the 5 to 6 week olds that are really delving into the solid foods and it's common for one or two even at that age to hold out and still wants mom's milk until almost 7 weeks.

If you're feeding mom kibble, offer the same brand in kitten formula. If it's not available, put mom's kibble in a blender to reduce the bite size, so the kittens can taste it. If you're feeding mom wet food, make sure the kittens can bite down on the size of chunks you're providing.

Kittens love to taste new things, texture is important and sample size is equally important.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoethor2 View Post
But she's definitely doing all right by them, licking their little behinds and whatnot. The other kitties have also been introduced to the kittens, and our male, Imri, also keeps washing their butts for them. Adorable, though weird.
y'know, Chip did that for Firefox... still tries to, altho she really doesn't like it!
post #10 of 11
When I first started breeding rexes I worried myself to death trying to get them to eat solids before 6 weeks old. I was lucky if they wanted to try at 5 weeks old. So I just backed off, and eventually they would help mom eat her canned food. After that, they were separated and I mixed a soupy canned kitten food with KMR to get them started.

Mine might have tasted the litter once or twice but watched mom use the pan and they would go use it at 4-5 weeks old.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Haven't seen them imbibing any litter since I got back from class this afternoon, so yay for that.

They're currently out "visiting" with the other kitties in the living room, watching Stardust with my roomie. For the first time ever, mommy is actually concerned about their absence, so she's been taken out for a few heavily supervised visits into the living room. (No contact with the other kitties, just looking at each other.)

This getting cats to get along thing is a pain in the rear. We wouldn't be pushing it so hard, but it's not that huge an apartment, and it's making me insane having to leave my bedroom door shut, particularly as it gets hotter and air circulation becomes more of an issue. It was pure misery the last few nights...

The kittens being accepted seem like such a positive step though... just hoping over time it will extend to mommy as well.
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