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5 day old kittens fighting for food

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
The stray cat that I've been taking care of gave birth to her kittens last Sunday morning. They had no problem nursing the first day but as they get bigger they seem to fight more at feeding time. According to everything that I've read, kittens pick one nipple that they tend to return to. In my case, I've got 2 of the larger kittens that seem to constantly disagree as to who should be nursing where. If one is on a nipple the other one will crawl on top of them and claw away with their little paws until they've removed the roadblock. It wouldn't be a big problem except for the fact that the smallest kitten in the litter really can't seem to stand up to them. They were all approximately the same size at birth, but he seems to be gaining weight slower than the other 3 and is a little more than half their size. Should I look into supplementing his diet to ensure that he's getting enough food to stay healthy?

post #2 of 13
I would start feeding the runt about every 2 hours with KMR. It could be that mom just doesn't have enough milk in all her nipples, so watch her close for purple rings around her nipples and a hardness to form. If that happens get her to the vet quickly!
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I appreciate your advice but unfortunately it came too late. I awoke this morning and headed into Charity's room to check on her and the brood. She was out of the box and all of the kittens were snuggled together sleeping peacefully. I decided to wake the runt up to see how he was and he only made a few weak meows before going back to sleep on the palm of my hand. As I've come to realize young kittens generally don't enjoy being taken away from the warmth of their litter and held by something that has no fur, so I tried gently shaking him to see if I could wake him enough to get the normal crying response. He would not even move to nurse so I knew he was in trouble. I called my vet but apparently they had closed 9 minutes before so my boyfriend and I hurried into Austin to a low cost wellness clinic I had found online.

When we got there we were informed that they were not a full service vet. The woman at the desk must have seen the panic in my eyes because she gave us directions to a local vet that was open until 3 pm. We hurried over there and got right in. As soon as they removed the sick kitten from the carrier I could tell the news wasn't good. The tech weighed him and laid him on a heating pad until the vet came in to talk with us. Apparently Charity had some sort of "cold" that she transmitted to the kittens and that left them congested. The little guy seemed pretty stuffed up and they assumed that it was affecting how much he was eating. The vet told us they could "go to heroic measures" but that she still couldn't guarantee that he would make it. So she decided to send me home with some KMR and a bottle and instead turned her attention to Charity.

During the half an hour that I sat in the exam room stroking the little kitten, the vet staff looked after Charity and her other kittens. $240 later they had tested her and vaccinated her for just about everything under the sun. I was beyond floored because that wasn't something I can really afford right now. $240 is a plane ticket home to visit my mother who just had a heart attack, not money invested into a stray cat that I won't even be able to keep. I don't think I would be as upset if they had actually tried doing something/anything to help the kitten but it's as if they gave up and just turned to Charity because there was money to be made. They even talked me into buying a $16 bottle of flea spray that they said was safe to use on the kittens but after reading the label I've come to find it's not safe on kittens under 12 weeks of age and mine are not yet a week old. I was less than pleased when they sent us home with a big bill and no real help for my sick baby.

The drive from the vet to our house took only 30 minutes and I was planning in my head where to buy a heating pad and reading the directions on the milk replacement the entire way home. I brought the carrier inside and started unloading the kittens back into their box when I noticed the runt laying motionless inside. I quickly reached for him and as I placed him in my hand I could tell he wasn't moving. I laid him down on the floor so I could see if his chest was moving, but I could see from the look on his face that he was no longer with us. I ran to get Nate in the hopes it wouldn't be true when I returned to the kitten's side, but Nate confirmed my fears.

Charity wouldn't leave the carrier so I had Nate put the kitten back inside with her while he went to dig a hole. I stroked her head as she tried licking his little body back to life. When Nate returned he was kind enough to place the baby in a small box since I couldn't bear to do it myself, and we took him outside and laid him to rest near the beautiful green trees and lush wild plants that he never got the chance to see.

It was such a horrible feeling watching that tiny box being covered over with dirt and I wished a million times that I could have a second chance. Maybe if I had taken the kittens to the vet earlier he wouldn't have gotten sick. Maybe if I had held him on the way home from the vet he wouldn't have stopped breathing. Maybe if I had done even one thing differently he'd be in that room right now with his family where he belongs. But I didn't. I can't change the outcome. It's something that I'm going to be dealing with for quite some time. I just hope that during his 6 short days in this world he could feel the love that we all had for him, and that he's in a far better place now.

Rest in peace sweet and gentle baby.
post #4 of 13
Oh Heidi, I'm so sorry. It's apparent from your posts what a caring and sensitive person you are. You did everything you could for the poor little guy. don't beat yourself up over it.

post #5 of 13
You can maybe yourself and second guess yourself all you want, but quite honestly, unless you have dealt with health compromised kittens prior to this, you wouldn't have known what to do. You wouldn't have known to take the baby out from the mom and put it on a pet heating pad- tube-feed it every two hours, stimulate it's bum so it would poop and potty and just be full-time mom till it got past the crisis point. You sometimes learn about this type of stuff the hard way, like you just did, and like I did almost 12 years ago when I first rescued a health compromised litter.

I am sorry you lost the runt, please keep your eyes on the other kittens, they aren't out of the woods either...
post #6 of 13

I am so sorry that the baby didn't make it. You really did all that you could. I understand that the $240 was money you couldn't really afford to spend, but I commend you for acting quickly and trying.
post #7 of 13
I'm sorry to hear about your little runt, he sure was a little beauty. I hope the other kittens make it to be strong and healthy. You have done so much for this beautiful litter and I'm sure they are thankful for it. I know it's hard to spend money on a cat that isn't even yours, I've done it before when I really couldn't afford it. Good luck with everything and thank you for everything you've done for these little guys.
post #8 of 13
If the runt had the cold....did the others as well? And if so did the vet put them on an antibiotic? If they have upper resp. and the kittens arent on anitbodies then you will probably lose them all....its very dangerous with kittens...
post #9 of 13
Are thier noses crusty or just black in color? ....I have come to learn that not all vets really deal with kittens well!! Just like teachers there are good ones and not so good ones
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I had noticed a few sneezes from the kittens here and there the past couple of days but nothing that seemed really ominous. Charity herself shows no signs of being ill. That's why I was so surprised yesterday morning to find the little runt so congested. He seemed alright the day before, just a bit smaller than the others.

The vet hasn't prescribed anything for the kittens persay but I'm giving Charity 2 ccs of Clavamox everyday to help her get back to good health. I think they believe getting Charity healthy will in turn help the kittens get better but I have very little faith in that particular vet and her practices. The 3 remaining kittens seem to be gaining weight quite well, are strong enough to pull themselves around the box, and meow quite loudly when Charity leaves the box for a visit with me. I plan on buying a heating pad today to place in the bottom of the box to help keep all of them warm since Charity was an outdoor kitty and accustomed to 90 degree days outside, not the chill of A/C.

They're all staying in a hooded litterbox which I'm hoping will also help keep them warm and comfy. When I just checked on the little critters they seem to be alright but are still sneezing on occassion. Their noses are not crusty, just black (and very cute). Is there something more my vet should have prescribed or am I doing all that I can to make sure these kittens have a fighting chance??
post #11 of 13
The fact that they are sneezing at such a young age is alarming to me. I would (if it were me) take them out of the plastic (retains the coolness of the room) litter box and transfer them to a cardboard box lined with soft blankets and towels. I would bury a pet heating pad in the middle of the box under the towels or blankets, and put the box in a closet or under a desk, somewhere out of drafts. I would also go to the health food store and get a bottle of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) and start giving the mom cat 2 drops of this in her canned food. Buy the liquid of GSE not the pills- I would wipe the kitten's noses daily, if they are stopped up they cannot smell their mom's nipples and get enough food to survive.
I also wouldn't handle the kittens much at all either as that passes the infection back and forth with them.

Good luck!
post #12 of 13
Yes-they really shouldnt be sneezing....try calling the vet back and see if it would be a good idea to get them on antibiotics...if she thinks so then there shouldnt be any vet visit they should let you just pick up the medicine for them. I just went through this with the kittens that I ended up with-almost too late for the little ones.. only one has made it out of 4 but she is doing great! Becareful too with the heating pad because it can also dehydrate the kittens. Make sure you keep towels or blankets on it.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
As an update on the sick kittens:
Charity completed her antibiotic treatment and is doing very well. I called my vet here in Elgin to discuss the sneezing kittens and was given some free (and friendly) advice. I asked if the kittens should be on antibiotics as well and the woman I spoke with said they generally don't like putting kittens that young on medication because it "kills the bad bacteria but it can also kill the good bacteria". I told her that the kittens were sneezing very sporadically but other than that they showed no real signs of congestion. She told me to keep a close eye on them and if they started running a fever, forming crust on their noses, or showing goo in their eyes, that I should bring them in for a checkup and a prescription.

This coming weekend they will be one month old!!! (what a long month it has been) and I haven't seen them sneeze in ages. Apparently treating Charity and keeping the kittens warm and safe was all they needed to survive their first month.

I do appreciate everyone's thoughts and advice though I would feel so lost if it wasn't for this place!! Thanks again.

(girl, boy, boy)

Their story continues here: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...threadid=26101

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