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Kitten Questions!!! Sucking reflex

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hi! New member here. I have a few questions concerning six kittens I'm raising. But first, a little background info...

About three months ago a beautiful cat followed me home. My family and I named her Lily and made an appointment to see the vet who guessed that Lily was about two years old. We made an appointment to get her fixed, but realized that she was gaining weight around the middle and her nipples had turned pink and were slightly protruding. Surprise! She was pregnant.

On August 3rd she gave birth to seven kittens (one passed away later that day). Eight days later (August 11th) Lily began to breathe rapidly and felt warm. I brought her to the vet the same day who said that Lily had developed a fever. A few days later Lily was diagnosed with mastitis, an infection which had developed in her two lower nipples. On August 17th, Lily underwent surgery on her lower abdomen to remove the infected tissue. She's home now (since the 19th) and doing as well as we could hope. She's a bit cranky from wearing the Elizabethan collar, but there's only a week left until the staples come out.

Lily doesn't produce any milk anymore so we all assumed she had lost her maternal instinct. She finally approached the kittens yesterday (August 24th). After a few sniffs she'll lick them (not to stimulate) and cuddle with them for a couple of minutes but that's it.

As for the kittens, my parents and I have been feeding them kitten formula since the 11th. They're now 22 days old and are the cutest little babies I've ever seen. I'm dreading the day I'll have to let them go.

As of today the kittens are being fed every five to six hours from a bottle. They basically drink until they've had their full. After a burp and a pee, they usually fall back asleep. They don't produce stool after every meal, but my vet has said that that's normal? I've read conflicted info online so I was wondering what *is* normal. Two haven't produced stool in the last few days so I'm taking them to the vet tomorrow for an enema.

My other concern is that for the last couple of days all six kittens have started to suckle on each others genitals. Although the mother is present, they obviously can't suckle on her for fear of disturbing the stitches and developing another infection. And since they have yet to have full control of their bladder, this means little pee puddles wherever they go. I watch them when I can and separate them when the sucking reflex kicks in, but obviously I can't watch them every hour of every day and when I'm asleep. They'll cry for their morning feeding and be soaked in urine. I made a box with six compartments, but being separated makes them restless. And when they cry Lily cries too.

So, my question is if there is anything I can do to discourage the sucking reflex? A person online recommended spraying a bit of apple cider on their bums, but I'm not sure? I try to have them suckle on my finger or a wet towel, but they all prefer to suckle on each other. Any suggestions?

Also, now that they're three weeks old, I was wondering when I should start weaning them and training them to use the litter box?

Thank you for reading this far! And for all the replies I hope to receive.
post #2 of 3
Oh hon I'm sorry no one tried to answer this before. Actually, I'm not sure I can give you any advice either. I'm really not sure how to stop kittens from trying to nurse on each other. Check with your vet and make sure you're feeding them enough. My MIL has raised many kittens when their mom died in childbirth (not the same thing, but similar as in no milk) and I think she fed them for the first 4 weeks every 2-3 hours instead of every 5-6. They may not be getting enough right now at their age.

They are too young to wean completely right now, but you can always put out a small plate of watered down kitten food to let them nibble on and get a taste of. Make it wet enough that the kibble absorbes enough water and is like a mush. Hot water is the best (from the tap is fine) and by the time it cools enough it should be mush.

You shouldn't have to train them on anything since their mom is still there, but if she hasn't bonded with them, you may have to help. I'm guessing you are stimulating them yourself to eliminate, since you know who hasn't pooped lately (another thing to ask your vet about). I've noticed that even kittens/cats I have brought in from outside learn very quickly were their bathroom is. All I usually have to do it show it to them, and they go from there. If mommy isn't all that interested, just make sure you have a low sided litter box near them. After they eat, stimulate them a bit, then put them in the litter box to finish the job. It may help if mommy used it first because they will associate the smell of poo to this is when I do it.

I hope I helped some, and welcome to TCS!
post #3 of 3
in my experience (hand raising one litter of 9 & one litter of 7 and now a single kitten) as long as they are nursing, they will suckle on each other. it wont hurt them unless they are suckling too much in one single spot. they can begin to be weaned at about 4 1/2- 5 weeks. Talk to your vet about a weaning formula. litter training... what I did and am doing now, as soon as you can wipe 2 or 3 times and stimulate them to pee, put them in a litter box (for small kittens I use low sided disposabel foil pans so they can actually get in by themselves) that is lined with news paper (with no litter yet) and just let them pee it out. you may need to pick them up again to restimulate the flow but thats ok. you can also smear a very small ammount of thier own fecal matter on the news paper, you will only be throwing it out once a day. after this is done for about a week, place about 1cm of litter ( i prefer the silicone as it wont cause lung problems for anyone in your house kittens included.) and just do the same thing, as with pee do the same thing for poop... once you can wipe them a few times and get thier bowels moving transfer them to the litter box and let nature take its course. after they have pooped, make a big show of taking a spoon (reserved for just this occasion) and covering the poop up.
as for being constipated, next time simply try adding a bit more water to thier formula than normal. often constipation is caused by lack of moisture in thier digestive tract ( as with humans) so a bit more water will usually do the trick. ( but for no longer than 24 hours. )
have fun with the little gaffers and best of luck!
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