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I can't get them to eat from a dish!!!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm going nuts. We have two bottle babies - their mother was hit by a car and my hubby's ex-wife is a dip and couldn't figure out how to feed them. They were about 12 days old when we got them, and we've had them for 18 days now, so they are at LEAST 4 weeks old. Been bottle feeding them every 6 hours or so. They've tripled in size since we got them. Completely litter trained. Can climb over 2 foot barricades. Been chewing on the nipple for a week straight now.

THEY WILL NOT EAT FROM A DISH!!!! I know they're young, but I have never had a young kitten that wasn't eating at least partially on their own at 3 weeks (and believe me, I've had plenty). The kittens are eating us out of house and home. They weigh 1 pound. They are eating around 30 Tablespoons of food a day - that's 1.5 bottles, 5 times a day. I've actually had the little male drink 2 full bottles in one sitting! Formula costs a fortune and we're already on our third canister. We have family members giving us donations to help!

I've tried everything I can think of to entice them to a dish of formula so we could at least start the motion to hard food, but it hasn't worked. They walk through it and make a bee-line to me. I've tried canned food - she sat in it and screamed at me to feed her. I've tried spiking the bottle with the gravy from canned food - still no interest in canned food. They just cannot seem to grasp the concept that instead of a bottle, the formula is in a help-yourself format. Nope, it's just look at the human and scream your little fuzzy head off until you get that bottle. If that doesn't work, scale the barriers and jump on them. My hubby has plenty of his own experience with bottlers as well, and he's at his wits end, too!

And don't get me started about the addiction to one particular nipple. Especially when one of the other cats got a hold of it and tore it to pieces. It took THREE TIMES AS LONG to get them to eat with the new one, which was the second one I tried...... and even then they were fussing for hours....

I need help....
post #2 of 11
I've had kittens that wouldn't eat off a dish until 5-6 weeks old so I wouldn't worry just yet.

I've never bottle fed a kitten though and always feed my kittens with a tea-spoon so at 3 weeks old I start lowering the tea spoon to the dish and wa-luh. Have you tried that?
post #3 of 11
I would try the teaspoon. Sometimes they get a bit intimidated by the bowl if their noses go in and get wet. I had a kitten (my old cat sisco) I took him in at 5 weeks because they were basically abusing him and the other kittens (I found homes for the others) and he was starving (he would only feed from mom and they wanted him to stop so they just locked mom out the house, didn't attempt to actually HELP him eat). I had to, literally, take a spoon and put the food into his mouth (canned) so he could learn the texture and how to chew. After doing that a couple times a day he finally learned how to do it on his own. Good luck.
post #4 of 11
I have yet to meet a grown cat that still sucks the bottle. Yes, bottle babies can get expensive and frustrating, but when you move them off the bottle, it is a natural transistion for them. The formula no longer satisfies them and they let you know right away that they want and need more. once they are off the bottle they go to canned kitten food, talk about expensive! You can't move them to dry adult food, it just doesn't do them any favors health wise. I start them on meat baby food and I put the mixture in a jar lid. I put a dab of the food on their mouth and in it, then hold the jar lid up to them. If they eat then I slowly lower the lid to the floor. If they don't they aren't ready and the bottle comes out. Kittens and cats move on their own time schedule, not on ours.
post #5 of 11
I've always used a formula and canned food gruel at that stage. To get them used to it I'll set them near the food (always use a plate or something flat, never a bowl as cats are bad at judging depth and kittens even worse) and put some on my finger and gently rub a little on their mouths and teeth. This goes one of two ways - a kitten is reluctant and will lick the food off its mouth after you move your finger, or you get bit.

Some take a little longer to accept this, but will be eating after a week.

Offer the formula gruel mix until normal weening age.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Tried the teaspoon thing already. Been putting a little bit of formula on my fingers and put it on their mouths. Tried putting canned food gravy in a syringe and putting it on their tongues - they don't even react like it's food. I've tried all the known tricks. They just want momma to give them that bottle.

I have had three week olds shove mom out of the way to get to canned food, so I'm just not getting these little ones being so oblivious!

The problem is that they do need more - two bottles each and they're both still hungry! Their little stomachs are all distended, yet I think the formula just doesn't have enough nutrition for them now. I've even tried making it stronger, but then they just get constipated.

I would love to switch to the gruel. I have it. They aren't even noticing it's there!
post #7 of 11
Are their bellies getting distended after meals or staying that way? If they're keeping that pot belly look all the time then you need to get them to a vet - 5-6 weeks is a good age to start that anyways.

What canned foods are you trying?
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
No, they only have distended stomachs after drinking 4 ounces in one sitting. I know better than to wait if it was constant. They've been de-wormed for their age group, and have normal poos. They've even moved from using the paint tray liner to a real, albeit small, litter box.

We're stretching out the feedings to as close to eight hours as they'll take - if they start hollering we break down and feed them. We just moved them today from the playpen (locked in carrier at night) in the living room to the kitten room upstairs, so now they have food and water available 24/7. (Trying to keep dishes full when all the adults can get to them is madness!)

I have tried KMR Gruel (warm and cold). Iams canned kitten. Science diet hard softened in both water and formula. Purina kitten hard softened in both water and formula (never used Purina before the last batch of kittens, but they did amazing on it, so I'm sold!). Friskies beef in gravy, chicken in gravy, salmon in gravy. Fancy feast beef in gravy and shrimp in gravy. Friskies mixed grill loaf and country dinner loaf. All the canned foods that I know can drive any cat that is refusing food to dive in with gusto. Heaven knows I had to beat my own cats away from the dishes!

I got the male to kinda eat from a spoon today. I had to put the bottle on the spoon and he licked the nipple and got some formula that way. I'm starting to get concerned they don't have a sense of smell. They see the bottle as food, but I really don't think they know what the formula smells like to locate it in an unfamiliar place.
post #9 of 11
I have 4 now 4 week old kittens (roughly 4 weeks on ... well ... TODAY!!) I started trying them with meat baby foods about a week ago. They'll drink it out of the bottle if it's mixed with the formula. It can be used to help stretch the formula out a bit.

While I was at work today, we ran out of the powder. So ... When I got home I ran into town and got a can of goats milk (don't have any other option for tonight). It's what I had them on the first day we got them ... because I was at work ... and Kate was home with them, and the only option is a grocery store in town. Goats milk is a good alternative ... and it's relatively cheap ... you can get it in a can, and add that in to the bottles to help with cost too.

But !! Here's a trick my aunt always used ... and it worked for me tonight!

Put some formula (in my case, goats milk) on a small saucer. Tear up some bread and let it soak in the liquid until its falling apart ..... offer it up. I had one go right for it ... no one else was interested, but Mittens basically pushed the others that I was trying to show it to right out of the way and went to noming!! He never even touched a bottle this feeding.

I'm worried because, while mine get big bellys after they eat, they don't poo regularly. But every time I call a vet about it ... they say "If they're acting fine, don't keep big bellies, still eat, and don't have a fever, they're fine." I add mineral oil to a feeding a day ... HOWEVER ... they're starting to poo on their own ... so now it's time for a little box, it's also time to try and figure out how to give them more room.

But, ANYWAYS ... my suggestion is, for cost wise, try mixing in some goats milk, even vets will recommend it as a replacement short time for the formula. So adding some of it, won't be bad for them. And try the bread soaked liquids, even if you get one to eat that up, you can, with in a few days, probably have them on canned food, or hard kitten food soaked in catsip milk, or formula, or even warm water. (this is what I've always used for the 'gruel' stage, or even just to get a youngster back on track, and to save little teeths!)
post #10 of 11
I agree about the "time" - most of my kittens really showed no interest in solid foods till 5-6 weeks old. I had more problems trying to get them to eat solid earlier then 5 weeks.
post #11 of 11
5 of my 8 cats were bottle fed goats milk and they are thriving. Of course, it helped that my MIL (who we got the kittens from) had goats and the mothers were fed that everyday. Mixing it shouldn't be a problem.

I got my newest kitten Peanut to start eating by letting her lick mashed potatoes off my finger. We tried to get her to eat kitten food mixed with formula, baby food, everything but she just didn't know what to do with it. Then, she tasted that and it was like a light bulb came on in her head..."Oh, so THAT'S what food is!". After that, no bottle, no formula, no mush..she went straight to dry food and jumped in on the can food treats every night.

She was probably about 4 weeks old when we found her and started eating dry food around a week and 1/2 later. So, it could be the little one just isn't ready yet. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.
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