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You can lead a kitten to KMR but....

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Charity's kittens are now 3 weeks old and I'm under the impression that she's tired of being a mommy already. She sits on the windowsill all day and I can almost see her longing to be back outside playing and hunting in the sun. Her kittens cry every time they awake because they're hungry and she basically ignores them. Now that they can walk they chase her all over the "nursery" trying to get her to feed them but she just won't have it. Yesterday I tricked her into feeding them (and licking them) twice by getting her to lay down on the floor for a petting. As long as I was paying attention to her and showing her affection she was content to let the kittens nurse, but she won't even do that much today. I have a kitten bottle and some KMR from our emergency vet visit 2 weeks ago but I can't seem to get them to nurse off the nipple. I had a little luck today mixing up some kitten pedialyte and placing it on a plate since I noticed they would lick off of my finger but not the bottle. Two out of the three kittens caught on to the whole drinking from the platter thing but it just wasn't the same as mom's milk. They started getting their teeth in last week so I'm wondering if I should push the bottle or just start teaching them to eat some on their own since Charity can't really be depended on at this point. Is there some trick to bottle feeding that I'm not aware of? I'm more than willing to do the work but I'm as new to this as the kittens are and we just don't seem to be reaching a common ground. Any tips and advice?

post #2 of 9
My orphaned kittens didn't like a bottle - I'm not sure if it required too much sucking on their part, if the hole was too small (we experimented with the size of the hole to no avail) or what. I used a syringe that I got from the vet. You can really control how much food they get as the lines are clearly marked on the syringe. 3 weeks is a little young for them to start eating or lapping on their own - that usually starts at about 4 weeks. If you start supplementing them with KMR, you will need to keep a very close monitor on how much they get from their mom, so that you don't overfeed them with KMR - too much food can be as bad as not enough. I can't help with ideas there because I have only used KMR on orphaned kittens. Have you talked to your vet about this?
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
I haven't spoken with the vet yet because I thought I'd try the forums for some advice first. It seems that not all of the vets that I've worked with have had the same kind of experience with handraising kittens as TCS members and this way I can get lots of really great opinions rather than just one.

It seems now that Charity has completely stopped feeding the kittens so the burden has fallen on me. I've been experimenting with a few different feeding strategies and the kittens and I have yet to find our groove. Yesterday I purchased some KMR and some meat baby food (w/out onion powder). I wanted to buy some soft kitten food in the can but apparently our local grocery store doesn't stock it.

I again attempted to feed them with the bottle but they just didn't get it, and I had limited success with the syringe. They seemed happiest licking it off my fingers and eventually from a jar lid. I also tried mixing in some of the veal baby food and they were instantly hooked. They actually seem to prefer it to the KMR now.

I've been seperating Charity from the kittens during feeding time, because she seems to enjoy the KMR and baby food as much as they do and it's hard to keep her from eating it all up on them. I make sure to feed her some adult canned food once I return her to the kittens though.

They seem pretty happy lapping the milk and food up from the jar lids. I realize they are a bit young to eat on their own (they'll be a month old this coming Sunday) but it is the easiest way to feed them. Are there any drawbacks to them eating on their own at this age? If it's detrimental to their health I'll continue to force the syringe on them, but if there's no harm done I'd be more than happy to continue to work with them on the soft food route.

I look forward to your opinions!

post #4 of 9
Heidi, I just found this seemingly excellent article on hand-rearing kittens http://www.cat77.org.uk/articles/rearing.htm I say seemingly because I have never done it so I don't know if it's good or not, but it does gel with everything I've read here. It may give you some ideas to help with the kittens. It is from a site in the UK, so some of the products they mention may not be available by those names here.
post #5 of 9
I wouldn't recommend the syringe feeding, it's to easy to flood tiny lungs that way. The hole in the bottle is probably not giving them a lot of nutrition and may need to be enlarged. I also would caution you about letting mom out, at least not until she is spayed. Put her in a room by herself for a few hours, or just get her a tall cat condo where she can climb up and escape the kids for awhile. They will be so busy climbing up and down the condo, they won't bug her if she is at the top.
post #6 of 9
Yes!!!! I agree with Hissy, get her spayed before you let her out. Cats are quite prolific and can get pregnant almost immediatly after having kittens. Be carefull......
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Just to clarify: I never said I let Charity outside. For that past month she's been on house arrest. When I need to feed the kittens I simply move her to another room until I am finished. I wouldn't dream of letting her outside, not only because I don't want to risk another pregnancy, but also because I lost a number of indoor/outdoor cats while growing up and I've vowed never to do so again. While she is with me, Charity will be an indoor only cat.

As for the kittens and their dislike of the bottle, I don't believe it stems from the size of the hole in the nipple but rather the size of the nipple itself. Although I'm using a special kitten bottle they don't seem to want something that large in their mouths. On the occasions that I have syringe fed them, they have attempted to suckle the end of the injector much as I hoped they would do with the bottle. They are a little confused but we're adapting

Lately they have been very interested in learning to feed themselves though. They are becoming quite skilled at lapping up/ licking KMR and meat baby food from a spoon or a small jar lid. Today I even caught 2 of the 3 eating some of Charity's dry kitten food. Apparently, even though Charity isn't really raising them, she is acting as their role model. They watch her very intently and have been actively trying to imitate her behaviors (thank goodness for small miracles I suppose). I'd like to continue feeding them soft foods because they have been preferring it to the warmed KMR.

Are there any canned kitten foods that I can purchase at a grocery/pet store? They seem to enjoy the canned baby food but I know it's not meeting all of their nutritional needs so I'd like to replace it with something a little more specific to kittens. Will the kittens be irrevocably damaged if I continue feeding them soft foods at this tender age?
post #8 of 9
Here is what I did, mine was 3 weeks old and would not drink from bottle or eyedropper. I dumped the KMR formula on a saucer, and she lapped it up like crazy!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've had a lot of luck with the saucer method myself the last couple of days. It seems the babies want to eat like "big kitties" the same way they see their mom eating.

I'm finally getting a rhythm down. At mealtime I grab all my ingredients and prepare the food as though I'm a shortorder cook hehe. The large plastic lid is filled with KMR, the plastic dish is filled with half a can of soft cat food for Charity, and 3 metal lids are filled with a meat baby food/canned cat food mixture and placed inside a plastic gladware top to help contain the mess hehe (as if that's working!)

My concern now is that they are becoming almost disinterested in the KMR. They would much rather lap up the meat baby food and canned cat food that I've been mixing up for them. Is it too soon for them to survive on a milk free diet? On occassion Charity has actually let them nurse a little bit (as long as they lie still and don't fight and claw at each other over nipples)so I believe they are still getting a little bit of milk in their diet. Should I let them determine the speed at which they transition from one food to the next or is it better for me to decide for them? If they get hungry in between feedings they seem to eat a few morsels of the dry kitten food I've been feeding Charity and they've even been lapping water out of her water bowl as well. Are they growing up too fast or is it alright that they are moving so quickly to wean themselves??
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