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mother cat who won't clean kittens

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I am new, so please forgive any errors I make. I am at wits end with a mother cat I am fostering. I am on the verge of taking her back to the shelter as I don't know what to do. Please help.
This mother and her 6 babies (2 1/2 weeks old) were given to me by the shelter a week ago. They told me she had respiratory infection and I needed to give her canned food (c/d Hills) and supplement the kittens feeding 2 times a day. All but one of the kittens seem to be thriving. The problem is she refuses to clean up after them. I put clean bedding down for the kittens but within a few hours it reeks with the smell of stale urine. She shows minimal interest in the babies. The shelter was afraid she wasn't producing enough milk.
I presently have tried putting her in two locations in the house but she continually tries to carry her babies into the living room under the entertainment center. This is not a safe place for her as their are many electric wires and the space is so limited there is no way she could take care of the babies there. My next choice is putting them in the garage (which is warmer than my house as we have the air conditioning on). I guess my questions are these:

1. Is it normal for a mother cat to refuse to clean up and stimulate the kittens to relieve themselves and yet nurse them?

2. What can I do to encourage her to take better care of them?

3. The only way I could get her to eat the c/d was to mix it with Iams Kitten dry + tuna(and oil) + cheese + c/d. (I am also giving her 2 Tbsp. of KMR milk replacement daily). Her appetite has improved since I got her last week (she was skin and bones) but I'm concerned about her teaching the kittens to eat Iams when the time comes. (As their prospective new owners may not want to go to all this trouble and I'm not sure it's the best diet for them anyway). What should I do when it comes time for her to teach them?

4. The kittens are struggling to take the bottle. I've tried two nipples. One is cone shaped and one is more like a human nipple. I've also tried a syringe. Sometimes they reject any. If they accept the nipple at all they want to put it to the side of their mouths and chew it instead of suckle. Any suggestions?

5. Since my husband is about to leave me because of the odor (just kidding) do you think it would be allright to put them in my attached garage?

post #2 of 2

I am so sorry that you are encountering such difficulty. Please do not put these kittens out in the garage, they have to stay at least 95 degrees of warmth. If there is anyway you can take those cords and duct tape them to a board then flip the board over, that will help the cord situation. She is under there for warmth and privacy.

It is not uncommon for a mom cat (depending on age) to not attend to the needs of her kittens. She also could be sick, stressed, and have other issues working with her. Are the kittens nursing at all? If not they need to be bottle fed every two hours with Kitten Replacement milk. After you bottle feed, take the kittens and using a warm damp cloth, gently rub their bellies, and their rectums until they urinate and poop. The best way that I know to do this, is to set a small box near your sink with nice soft toweling inside, set each kitten in the small box, cover it with a towel to keep them warm and then taking one kitten at a time, start a steady light stream of warm water, put the kitten's rear into the stream (make sure it is not hot water) and then take a washcloth you aren't attached to and start stimulating the little one. The warm stream of water just encourages them to go faster, I don't know why, but it does. Have some towels cycling in the dryer, when the kitten goes, take the warm towels (I hope you have others in your home to help?) If not cycle the towels ahead of time to get them toasty warm and then put the towels in the microwave just to keep them warm (don't turn your microwave on) and then just use those warm towels to dry them. Then put them back with mom.

I would call the shelter and ask them to send their vet over if it were me. Sounds like the mom might be either to young to understand motherhood, or to sick to care. If she is sick, her body temperature is not adequate to provide the warmth these little ones need. You can make a quick soft pouch out of a pillowcase, some soft rope, and some soft bedding material (rags, towels whatever)

Take the rope and drape it around your neck measure it so that it hangs just under your heart, and mark the cord. Take an old pillowcase and start folding the open ends under (like you fold the sleeves of a shirt?) Keep folding until it is half the size it was. Take the rope and run it under the fold tucking it in tight- then sew a running stitch to keep it in place. Put the soft bedding inside, then place the pouch over your head. It should hang right next to your heart. Put the babies inside the pouch, then put on a soft floppy shirt that you can button over them, and you can then provide the warmth the so desperately need. this is ONLY if the mother is not laying with them.

You may lose some kittens if you can't get the shelter to bring a vet or to set up a vet appointment for you. These babies sound quite compromised. Good luck and please email me if you need more help I have raised a lot of orphaned kittens as well as helped with mother cats who have no desire to assist with their kittens.

I am moving this to Health and Nutrition for you.
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