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Kitten health question... how do you know?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
How do you know that the kittens are getting enough milk? How can you tell that mom is actually producing milk? Does it take a little bit for mom's milk to come in?

She had the babies between 1 and 4 a.m. Sunday morning (yesterday). Today, the babies are a bit whiny (she gets a little frantic when they start crying pretty bad)... especially two of them. I cannot express milk from her myself and it doesn't look like they are filling up enough (she's a first time mom if that makes any difference) but then I was wondering if it takes a bit for the milk to come in full force (like it does for humans).

Any information would be greatly appreciated. They aren't constantly crying or anything but will definitely get pretty darn loud and the little ones fight for her... they will actually start shoving and clawing at each other and screaming while they are doing it if one tries to push the other off of her...

P.S. I asked this here for traffic of people who are constantly around kittens. Thanks

and we are in the midst of a snow storm so if I need to get any replacement, I need to know before we get snowed in....
post #2 of 17
Jodie, I would go ahead and supplement now. Get the KMR powder and mix it yourself - I've never had any luck at all with the already-made liquid. Since she had 5 (a large-ish litter) it could be that two you mentioned might not be getting enough. Do you have a food scale that weighs in grams or ounces? If so, weigh them daily to see if they are making progress. I have a table of kitten weight progression around here somewhere - I'll scare it up and post it here when I find it - hopefully later this afternoon. If you don't have such a food scale, Walmart sells an inexpensive one that will suffice. I bought one (in a pinch) for about $25 when my old one was dropped and broke.

Hope this helps,

~gf~
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gayef
Jodie, I would go ahead and supplement now. Get the KMR powder and mix it yourself - I've never had any luck at all with the already-made liquid. Since she had 5 (a large-ish litter) it could be that two you mentioned might not be getting enough. Do you have a food scale that weighs in grams or ounces? If so, weigh them daily to see if they are making progress. I have a table of kitten weight progression around here somewhere - I'll scare it up and post it here when I find it - hopefully later this afternoon. If you don't have such a food scale, Walmart sells an inexpensive one that will suffice. I bought one (in a pinch) for about $25 when my old one was dropped and broke.

Hope this helps,

~gf~
I SO appreciate you responding... I just called DH and he will brave the snowstorm and go stop at the pet store and get me a bottle and some formula mix (I have worked with that formula when I tried to save some newborn gerbils - when the moms only have two babies, her milk production is not enough).

So now my questions are... if I supplement, will it cause her not to produce as much? I know when I nursed my son, if I were to feed formula, it would slow my milk production... and how often should I supplement? Just the whiney ones? or all?

I'm not sure how momma is going to feel about this. She gets really funny when I pick up the babies... she doesn't get mean, just wants to know what the heck I am doing with them.

I may not be able to get the scale today, but I'll give it a shot at WalMart probably tomorrow... don't know how bad this storm is going to get...
post #4 of 17
She has enough babies that it shouldn't matter to her milk production. In fact she would welcome the reprieve as nursing takes quite a toll on a mom cat.

If KMR is not available you can always mix up Kitten Glop you will find the recipe on www.kitten-rescue.com but KMR is the better choice because of all the nutrients it has.

Be careful when you hold the kitten away from mom. The mom cat can be aggressive if she thinks her kittens are being harmed and once they start crying she may believe they are in danger. Feed the kitten while it is laying on your chest, on it's stomach. I use a recliner chair as the best way to feed. Make sure the nipple to the bottle is open and flowing correctly, sometimes they don't pierce easily-


Good luck
post #5 of 17
You're hubby is a darling - reminds me of mine! Gotta love a man who would do for us like these two do. I never give my guy nearly enough credit, but just for the record, I couldn't have custom-ordered a better man to marry. On a list I made as a starry-eyed, fairytale-land sort of little girl, I had 10 things that were "required" of the man I chose to share my life with ... my hubby has all 10 of those things and oh-but-so-much more. Sounds like yours does too! I'll have those weights for you in a little while - I think I know exactly where they are.

OK, on topic now ... kittens: Kittens will "mark" a certain nipple that they normally always go back to - and will often scratch and fight to get into position. That fighting can be tiresome to such a young baby and so they sort of "give up" and just fall asleep there without grasping a nipple. Consequently, they don't get enough nourishment. If the others are impeding the way to that position, try helping them out some if you can. Really observe how they line up (and pile up) in order to feed and then when they are on their way to the "buffet line" try to position them so that you duplicate the line/pile up. Make sense?

Can't answer the question of reduced milk-production. Maybe someone else knows - but my guess is that it would slightly reduce it, but you will only be supplementing until the babies can nurse on their own and are gaining weight from Mom's milk alone. That is your goal - you don't want to be supplementing until they are ready to wean to kitten food. You want them to nurse normally in order to get the necessary bonding, most nourishing food, immunity ... all the good things that nursing from Mom would provide to them. When they are ready to return (and try this at least once per day - put them with Mom first BEFORE supplementing), the addition of two kittens should assist an increase - but remember to feed your Momcat accordingly. Queens can get run-down FAST when nursing. Get her (if you haven't already) on a high-quality, canned kitten food AND a high-quality, dry kitten food. You can even give her a little of the mixed-up KMR if she will take it, but I haven't seen a queen yet that would. Your mileage may vary.

You want to get her used to you picking up those babies right the heck now. She will naturally be very curious as to what you are doing with them, but don't let her intimidate you. Pick those babies up, put your hands on them and get them right up in your face so that you are leaving your scent on them. Hold them close to your heart and let them feel your presence - babies this old do not see or hear yet - they smell and feel.

It is raining/sleeting here at the moment, Jodie - I know you are farther north and in the snowline but it seems that the line between rain and snow is moving more north in your direction.

I was supposed to go out to dinner this evening, but just received the cancellation call. Which is probably a good thing considering the weather ~and~ the fact that a certain TCS Admin is looking for a certain document from me *duck and hide* I gotta get that finished, so I will be at the computer for a while. But I am going to go get a shower first, so I'll check back here in about an hour or so.

Remember to breathe. *grin*

~gf~
post #6 of 17
Your babies should have nice full round bellys. When mine are full they fall asleep. They do fight over the nipples though especially my little girl and a big boy (the girl has scratched sores on his poor little head). They do whine when fighting but the soon settle down and nurse. If they are just laying there whining for no reason they are probably hungry. Thier birth weight should double within the first week. Mine are noticably larger then when they are bron (at one week old). As brought out in a previous post it is best to buy a postal scale and weigh them. You will need to know how much formula to give them according to thier weight and also it's a good indication if they are getting enough milk by weighing them every day at least for the first week or two.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Can I ask one more question? A different two (not the two that are crying) are making this weird sound... kinda like a hissing... they open their mouths up and do a couple hissings in a row, and then stop. Sometimes they sneeze near the hissing sound. Could they have a respiratory issue this early? Yes, I know I am asking a ton of questions right now but I know very well in small animals if there are any problems, they can go downhill very very fast, and I wouldnt' want that to happen. Can you tell I have raised several gerbil litters and other small animal babies that died very quickly? Just normal worry I guess...
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Otte
Can I ask one more question? A different two (not the two that are crying) are making this weird sound... kinda like a hissing... they open their mouths up and do a couple hissings in a row, and then stop. Sometimes they sneeze near the hissing sound. Could they have a respiratory issue this early? Yes, I know I am asking a ton of questions right now but I know very well in small animals if there are any problems, they can go downhill very very fast, and I wouldnt' want that to happen. Can you tell I have raised several gerbil litters and other small animal babies that died very quickly? Just normal worry I guess...
I think mine do that too every now and then (the sneezing sound). probably just clearing the airway?? Maybe milk sorta went down into the windpipe. I wouldn't worry unless it happens a lot. Anyone else with suggestions?
btw-do your kittens have nice round bellys? Are they gaining any weight?
How old are they? Does your mom cat have "sacs" under her nipples? My momma cat now has bulges under her nipples (especially the ones closer to her rear) and that tells me there's plenty of milk in there. Sometimes it's hard to squeese out the milk you have to do it the right way. Sort of start at the base of the nipple push in and squeese downward (like milking a cow). You should see a little drop of milk or your finger should get a little wet. That's how the vet showed me anyway.
post #9 of 17
Actually, They will hiss at you even this young so it's nothing to worry about...
post #10 of 17
I'm having similar questions with Chloe, as we believe she truly isn't producing enough milk and/or isn't paying enough attention to the babies. I am weighing them to track their growth and supplementing when they get whiny or cry even after they've been nursing for a while. I don't want to keep harassing them if they are gaining weight at a normal rate, but with one having died already I don't want to risk that it's something I can prevent. I love these little ET lookin' things already
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Bengal... they seem to have fairly round tummies... I did notice a bit of bulge this time with momma cat around her nipples... this is the first time I have seen them bulging all day. I do have to say that my little boy (so far looks like the only little boy - they say it is hard to tell but frankly, these ones look pretty textbook according to the diagrams I have seen - looks like I have all girls and one boy) anyone, my little boy seems to be the whiniest of all. Every time I pick him up, he whines at me. I checked to see if maybe something was hurt, but no, it looks like he is fine, just whiney!

Ken... thanks for that information... I thought it really did sound like a hiss... that is too funny, they think they are big cats, don't they! lol!

Gaye... I wanted to say you are right about my Dh... boy, he just called me and he is scoring points BIG TIME! lol! He says he can't stand cats (yeah right), he just bought a bunch of different things for the kittens (powdered kitty milk, bottles, syringes) and even tried to buy them a bed (didn't find one big enough... I'm glad he didn't cause I'd rather just keep removing the little pads (made them from a thin comfortor) that I keep laundering and replacing... anyway, he also bought my Boss cat some treats! lol! He's scoring those points!

Thanks all, I really appreciate it!
post #12 of 17
Can't answer that hissing question, the feral kittens always hiss at us, even at a very young age with their eyes still shut. I suppose they are reacting to our smell and our presence so near to them.
post #13 of 17
OK, I found the chart and info I was thinking of ... here it is:

A healthy kitten will weigh 3 to 4 ounces at birth. Kittens should begin to gain weight rapidly a few days after birth and should double their weight by one week. A continuous weight gain of approximately one half ounce per day is one indication of a healthy kitten.

If a kitten drops 10 percent of initial birth weight during the first 48 hours of life and does not start to regain by 72 hours, the kitten is not doing well and should be supplemented as well as very closely monitored.

Age In Days - Weight

1 - 2 and a half to 4 and three quarters ounces
5 - 3 to 7 ounces
10 - 4 and a half to 9 and three quarters ounces
15 - 6 to 11 and three quarters ounces
20 - 7 and a half to 14 and a half ounces
25 - 8 to 16 and three quarters ounces
post #14 of 17
My female is having trouble producing enough milk too. She is a small cat with five babies. I started supplementing them last nite. I feed them every four hours from the time I get home from work at 1 pm until I go to bed. That way it gives mom a break and she has enough time to reproduce her milk. She takes care of them the rest of the time. I have been supplementing her too. That doesn't hurt.
post #15 of 17
[quote=J. Otte]Bengal... they seem to have fairly round tummies... I did notice a bit of bulge this time with momma cat around her nipples... this is the first time I have seen them bulging all day. I do have to say that my little boy (so far looks like the only little boy - they say it is hard to tell but frankly, these ones look pretty textbook according to the diagrams I have seen - looks like I have all girls and one boy) anyone, my little boy seems to be the whiniest of all. Every time I pick him up, he whines at me. I checked to see if maybe something was hurt, but no, it looks like he is fine, just whiney!

Well I think all kittens whine when you pick them up-mine do that too and they are definately not hungry. I would only worry if they cried for no reason-when they are not being handled by you.

btw-I read it's hard to tell boys from girls too but my boys both have BIG testicles for a kitten that small. The girls have like two small "bumps' on either side of the vulva, the boys have large "sacs" in between the top and bottom hole -it's very obvious which two are boys and which two are girls. Unless im missing something here?
post #16 of 17
Whining when you pick up the babies is completely normal - in fact, some kittens will downright scream their fool heads off. LOL I guess the best way to explain it would be by saying this: imagine yourself deaf, blind and very, very weak. You are in a warm, comfortable place when all of a sudden, you feel yourself lifted into space by some large but unknown force - don't know about you, but I would be whiny (at the least!) too! *grin*
post #17 of 17
Since my daughter is going with the Hawaiian name themes, 'coconuts' seems appropriate.

The 2 bigger ones are holding their own... either gaining weight or maintaining weight. Hiwa is doing well also, gaining weight. The tiny one is still having to be supplemented, and helped out with his/her nursing. He/she has not ever developed the swelling in the paws. The one big guy who had swelling, his is gone completely. The other one is down to just one swollen paw not 2. Only Hiwa still has the two swollen paws going on that are still pretty swollen. All three of the big guys while still on the extreme small end for their age (6.3-7.0 oz at 15 days old) seem to be fairing well. My tiny one still weighs only 4.8oz at 15 days old. I'm optimistic that they will be turning around here... if I could just get Chloe to stop being such a pill. She has gotten uber picky about what she eats, and insists on helping the kittens with their KMR rather than eat her 'food'. I'm going to get some more kmr tonight and mix her up her own thicker glop of it and see if she'll eat for me. Everything else she just tries to bury. *sigh*
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