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Newborn kitten will not nurse

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

First of all I apologise for my grammar mistakes but English is not my native language. :)


Here's my story:

My 1 year old cat gave birth to one huge kitten yesterday morning. It was a really hard delivery, the baby was stuck for quite a long time, I called the vet and he said the kitten is probably dead and I need to try to pull him out. So I did, and he was alive... barely

The mother cat didn't took care of him, so I had to. Only after he was breathing properly the mother cat started grooming him.  Finally I relaxed I thought everything was fine. But the kitten didn't start to nurse, and my cat has huge swollen teats. He didn't took the bottle either. I took them to the vet yesterday evening, he gave me some syringe to feed the baby, luckily he's eating now! He couldn't say why the kitten was not nursing cause he is a huge and strong kitten now. The vet said he will start to nurse eventually until then I need to give him formula.

So an other day passed... he still not nursing but he is searching on momma and once I saw him suck on one nipple for a few seconds. That nipple was one of the small ones. There are 2 really swollen nipples on my cat and I think she is really unconfortable.


My concernes:


That two nipples are big and hard. The vet saw the nipples but he assured me the kitten will nurse soon. But I think my cat is in pain and there's only this one kitten and of course he is not nursing. What should I do about this? Anyone had something similar? Shall I put icepack or something on them or massage them a little? I really don't know what to do but I feel sorry for my cat.


Also the kitten is crying all day long! Even after eating or when he is with momma. Except when he is sleeping. And my cat seems so stressed about the constant crying. Is this normal? Last time I had kittens it was more then 10 years ago and I was like 15 so I don't really remember if they supposed to cry so much.


I have one more question about feeding/cleaning. After feeding what should I do? Should I help the kitten to go the the bathroom or should I leave it to momma? She is totally accepting him but I don't thik she is grooming him too much and I don't think she knows he was just eating. Mostly she is just licking the formula off of his face, sometimes I see her cleaning his butt.


I hope some of you here can give me some advice and maybe share similar experiences.

I take her to get spayed as soon as I can! I don't think she is a happy mother right now... :(

post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 

The crying is stopped I think the kitten is exhousted. He was screaming all day and now he is sleeping for hours. Even when I took him out from the box to feed he didn't cry. Before he was so freakin loud when I was moving him. The mother cat was grooming and moving the kitten and he was quiet sleeping. I hope he is fine... Before this I was worried about him being loud now I am worried because he is quiet. I am so new at this...


Oh and an other question... I never fed kittens before so I have no idea. How much are they supposed to poop (at 1 day of age)? And how long does it take? Because he was doing quite a lot then I thought he finished I gave him back to momma and he was still pooping. Mother was cleaning him for a while but didn't finished it... it was all over his tail and she stopped cleaning him. I still don't know if I am supposed to help him with this or not.

post #3 of 22
thBlackWELCOMEcat.gif to TCS!

Hopefully somebody with experience will be along shortly and can answer your questions and give you some help. In the meantime, one of our veteran members with years of rescue experience has a site dealing exclusively with kitten care. You should find advice there about feeding, pooping, etc..

Good luck with the little one!
post #4 of 22

I have no experience with pregnant cats and kitten care.. but I do know the kitten is supposed to feed a lot. as much as he wants! I'd continue to feed him if he and the mother does not help each other.


if the mother's not cleaning his bum, I would take a damp, warm rag and clean his bum (and help stimulate him to poop too).


Hopefully someone with more experience will come along soon!

post #5 of 22

 Hi Szaffi.  Sorry to not have answered sooner.


This kitten has to get fed or he will die.   A newborn kitten needs to feed every few hours or their blood sugar will get too low.   


  But it can also be a birth defect,   so  look closely at the mouth,  make sure it is not deformed (cleft palate)  , which would make him unable to nurse properly.   If he has that,  probably the best thing to do,  although very sad,  would be to have a vet humanely euthanize him.  


 But if it looks OK,  probably the problem is because he had a difficult birth and started out weak.  


You can try giving some dextrose  / glucose sugar  in solution,  put a couple drops on the kitten's tongue  or rub into the gums.   If you do not have that,  you could use honey or corn syrup,  some kind of simple sugar. 

This can sometimes perk them up and give them enough energy to start to be able to nurse.  

It would be definitely best if he is able to nurse from his mother. 


However if he can't ,  you can try to feed  him with a bottle or  an oral syringe  ( syringe without the needle) -- and you can get a small nipple that fits on the end of the syringe .

 You can feed  some kitten replacement milk formula ,  or  a homemade kitten formula,  or  goat's milk,    or could even express the mother cat's milk into a container,  and feed him that.   ( that would actually be best if possible.) 

Be very careful to give it slowly making sure he swallows,  so it does not go down into his lungs.  When feeding the kitten he should be with his back upward,  the front part of his body can be slightly raised -- the same position as when kittens are nursing on  the mother cat


If  , even after giving the glucose, he is still too weak to be able to nurse or to take milk from a syringe or bottle,  he would need to be tube fed.  with a tube that is inserted down his esophagus into his stomach.   It is best to get a vet to show you how to do this the first time.     Often  this can get the kitten stronger so then he is able to nurse after that.  

post #6 of 22

If the mother is caring for him and cleaning his bottom then you probably don't need to do that,  she is probably stimulating him to eliminate and she consumes the waste which is just from milk.   

 It is normal for him to poop once or twice a day .


Re the mom's nipples.     You can put warm compresses on .  a cloth that is wet with warm water,  fold it, and hold it up against those swollen teats.   

 You can also try to "milk" her to release some of that.   gently pressing around the mammary gland.   



 I forgot to give you this before:    a link for recipes for kitten formula.   If you can't find a good commercial kitten replacement milk,


I 'm afraid at this point this kitten may need tube feeding to survive,  if he has had hardly any nourishment since yesterday.    but you need to find a vet who knows how to do it,  or maybe a rescuer or breeder who is experienced,   to show you how the first time.    Also you need to get the  right tube,  Number 3.5 is a good size for a newborn kitten.   Then in  about a week  change to number 5 size.       They are called "French tubes"  here but I dont know if it is called the same in your country. 


Tube feeding has a big advantage when the kitten is weak,  because  as long as you get the tube down the right place,   it's less risky  that some milk will get in the lungs .  

Here is an article with some tips about that.


Of course I mean for you to first give the dextrose  /  glucose .  ( or syrup, honey etc.)  and try to see if he can nurse on his own. 

post #7 of 22

Hi, I am only just learning how to deal with kittens as mine are 10 days old now. A big thing is to keep the kitten warm, it's really important that it is warm while it's eating or it can have digestive issues that can be life threatening. I used a heating pad wrapped in a towel and tucked under the bedding of the nest. If the kitten isn't to weak you could try and help it latch on to a nipple. I know they feed for short periods of time and often.


If you are feeding, I'd rub it's back end to make it potty but if the mom is feeding and cleaning that area I'd let the mom do it. How often are you feeding? Is there any way to weigh it?


Best of luck to you.

post #8 of 22

sugarsandz  ---   Good that you mentioned this because I  left it out.   and it is important  in EVERY case, 


 The kitten needs to be warm enough or he cannot digest the food.  Also if too cold,  the suckling reflex stops.  


 Right now  with a newborn kitten,  the temperature immediately around the kitten  ( in the nest)  should be about 30- 32 C.    This does not mean the entire room  has to be so hot.  

One can heat up the area right in the nest by using  a heating pad turned on low and wrapped in a cloth   or some other heating source,  such as take a large thick sock,  fill it with uncooked rice,  then heat that up in the microwave and place it in the nest.   Of course you would need to keep re-heating it. 


If the mother is spending almost all the time lying with the kitten,    that is helping to keep the nest warm already.   but unless the room temperature is over about  would be not so necessary to also use another heat source.  

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank you very much for the advices!

Unfortunatelly the kitten doesn't look good...I am devastated :(

The night was a nightmare. I read everything about how to feed them and I tried my best but I am sure I did something wrong.

Yesterday he was loud and he was moving around. And now... I think it's over soon :( he's barely breathing now he's not moving at all he can't even meow.

He was big and strong. Since I am feeding him hes getting worse... So I am sure it is my fault... :( I did it in the right position I wrapped him in a towel, I gave him warm kitten formula really slowly and he was swollowing from the syringe. He didn't suck on it not ever... Maybe he didn't even have a sucking reflex that's why he's not feeding from the mother.


There are warm blankets in the nest but I didn't put any warmer inside. I thought the momma was enough, he is with him almost all the time... Maybe I should have put in something since he is an only kitten. I will do that now it might help a little...


I did weight him and he lost weight. He was born with 130gramms and now he is 120 gramms.


Could it be that he wasn't even hungry because he was born with such a big weight and maybe that's why he didn't want to nurse and now I overfed him? I gave him  2ml in every two hours. The vet suggested this amount. The last feeding was about an hour ago at 7am but now he is such a bad shape he couldn't even eat. :( He did eat at 5am. Oh and he did a big poop yesterday so I am not sure it is his digestion.

I don't know what to do now... I am so sad and so mad at myself... I am sure I did something wrong. :(

post #10 of 22
Please try to take him to the vet. That's the best advice I can offer right now

Additionally, you are doing everything you can. Don't beat yourself up
post #11 of 22
You've been doing everything you can to help him, so please don't blame yourself if he doesn't make it. Something hasn't been right with him from the very beginning, so it's highly doubtful that you did anything wrong.
post #12 of 22

  I am so sorry the kitten is not doing well.     Please try not to blame yourself.  You're doing the best you can in a difficult situation,  you have done more than many people would do.   You got them to a vet within the first day.    Not all kittens thrive and  and many breeders and rescue workers who are more experienced have kittens who don't survive.    I still hope he may pull through,  but I agree it doesn't sound good.  

 I would at least telephone your vet and tell about what is going on now.  


It is not so abnormal for there to be a weight loss of up to 10% in the first 24 hours.  


  I apologize that I read your first post too quickly.    jcat had sent me a PM  to tell me about this thread and ask me to write a post to you.   I was about to go out to an appointment but I quickly read  and answered  --  too quickly,  because I did not read that you were regularly feeding him and he was taking the formula. 


No it is not usual for a kitten not to be hungry for the whole first day,  no matter how big they were at birth.   It is natural for them to want food every few hours.  I mentioned before,  they will get hypoglycemia if they are not fed every few hours.    

 He was probably crying so much because he was hungry. 


I think he had such a difficult birth  , that probably did affect him.   It's even possible that if he was stuck in the birth canal too long without oxygen ,   he might have got brain damage, and that made it harder for him to figure out how to nurse. 

  But some healthy kittens can also be clueless at first about latching on to a nipple  and have to be repeatedly placed on a nipple    


  It sounds like you have been feeding him the right way  and you weren't over feeding.   But it is very easy for bottle fed kittens to aspirate some milk into the lungs and even a drop can cause an infection.    


 Or... the kitten might have got an infection in the womb, or  in the birth canal.  

He might have breathed in some of the fluid during his difficult birth.      


It's also a slight chance maybe your cat does have mastitis in those 2  very swollen hard nipples,  and the kitten did nurse from one of those , and got infected milk. 


 Or the kitten may have some congenital defect.


  So please do not blame yourself so much.   There are a lot of possibilities for what is wrong and most have nothing to do with your caring for him.   


Re temperature.   I mentioned about how a kitten can't digest food if they are too cold.   If you think this is a problem you can take his rectal temperature. He must not be fed until warmed up above 34 C.    ( Normal temp for a  kitten under 1 week old would be 35-37 C.)       His mother's body heat probably is keeping him warm if she is lying with him most of the time,  and the area is not very cool. 


 Oh ,  one more thing ---    After feeding you need to burp him , just like with a human baby.  -- hold him against your shoulder and pat  / rub his back until he burps. 

Edited by maewkaew - 7/30/13 at 2:11am
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank you very much for your informative and kind answer, but sadly he passed away not too long after i wrote my previous post. :(


Is there any other signs of mastitis beside the swallen nipples? Should I worry about this? Because the vet saw her the day she gave birth, he give a pressure to it for the milk to come out and tried to put the kitten on it. (without luck). If it would be infected I think he would have noticed that... at least I hope he would.

post #14 of 22

I am so sorry the kitten died.    There is no knowing what the reason is but it sounds like he did not have much chance from the start.     As I said,  he might have had a genetic problem,  or might have got an infection before or during birth,  or breathed in fluid during that very difficult birth. 

  It sounds like you did what you could to try to help him , and I'm sure you showed him some love and comfort that gave him some happiness in his short life. 


Signs of mastitis would be the infected mammary glands feel  hard and hot  and are very painful to the cat.  and the milk may look yellow or tinged with blood, and may be very thickened or  curdled looking.  and she would probably have a fever.    It does sound like the vet would have noticed.  Probably she doesn't have mastitis,  but you will need to keep an eye on those nipples,  and I would apply warm compresses several times a day  and try to let out some of the milk and relieve the pressure. 

The vet may be able to give something to help dry up her milk sooner.  


Or...... IF you think you would be able and would want to,  you might ask vets or shelters if they know of a litter of orphaned / abandoned kittens and could see if your cat would accept them and you could foster them.     That may save the kittens lives and caring for them might also help your cat both "emotionally" and physically ( would give her a chance to go through the nursing and gradual weaning process.)


Please feel free to write a post about the little kitten in our Rainbow Bridge forum if you would like to.    

post #15 of 22
I'm so sorry the little one didn't make it, and would like to extend the sympathies of the entire TCS team. TCS has a forum, Crossing the Bridge, where members can post about their losses, should you wish to write about the kitten.

This thread, Mastitis, gives some info about the condition, though maewkaew has already posted the symptoms.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank God she doesn't have mastitis. Her milk is clear white and liquidy. Mammary glands feels a little hard and warm but definitely not hot.

Thank you maewkaew, jcat, draco and sugarsands all of your help and kind responses! He was only 2 days old but I miss him soo much. :( I didn't even give him a name.


I called the local shelter, about fostering kittens and they said they always need nursing mother cats so tomorrow we are going to have a new litter of kitten. Hopefully she will accept them!

I am really excited about this! A little bit nerves but excited. :)

post #17 of 22

I am so sorry about your loss, you tried everything you could and are an amazing person for that. It's great that you are going to try taking some kittens to nurse, you are giving these little ones a better chance at life. I wish you the best of luck with everything, please keep us updated.

post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 

I didn't want to open a new thread for this, I just wanted to share this picture of my cat and her two adopted kitten. They are about 4 weeks old and they are really happy with their new mom and my cat is also really happy with her new kitties. :)

post #19 of 22

I'm so glad your kitty excepted them, you are a wonderful person for giving these kittens a chance!

post #20 of 22

 Thanks for sharing!   I am so glad it worked out.  .    Your cat looks very contented with her little foster kittens.                                           

post #21 of 22
So there's a happy ending after all, especially for those two orphaned kittens. clap.gifclap.gifclap.gif
post #22 of 22

I had the same thing happened to me.  I found a kitten on Aug.4th Sunday  and took her to the shelter the next day to be fed by a catmom, but she rejected him by Wednesday.  I picked him up Wed. Morning and she was fine and screaming and drinking from the bottle every 2 to 3 hours.  Friday morning she took her bottle at 9:30am and had a good appetite. By 12:30 that afternoon she would not drink any more.  She kept on falling to her side as I tried to feed her.  I was so devastated and I tried to feed her with a syringe and that didn't work either.  Her poops were very hard the day before, almost like cooked rice.  She died on Aug 9 Friday at 11:15 pm.  It's so hard, because I became so attached and so did my two kids. 

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