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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21419
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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Hi my cat had 3 kittens on Thursday evening, two unfortuneately

Customer Question

Hi my cat had 3 kittens on Thursday evening, two unfortuneately died, the last one is fighting but i a concearned as he is so very tiny, seems too small to be able to feed from his mum.. When he was born his feet up to his 'knee' was still skin coloured and his legs were still a little wrinkly.. I am wondering if he may be a little premature.. I have been giving him some milk on occasion and the mother seems happy with this as does he as he happily pads her as if looking for milk when he goes back to her .. I just want to do the best for him.. Am i doing the correct thing.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

 

If two kittens have died and this one is very small, it is possible they are premature or that there was a problem with their development. That said, without knowing the exact date she was mated it would be difficult to confirm this.

 

In regards XXXXX XXXXX milk, can you tell me what kind you are giving?

Did you mean cow milk?

 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Oh no! I got some special milk from the pet store and a special bottle :)
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Thank goodness, Emma. Smile

I cannot tell you how many people I have met who mistakenly thought giving cow's milk was fine for kittens (and then wonder why they have terrible diarrhea). So, I am thankful to see that you are giving kitten formula to this little one.

Since you are feeding him already, can you just tell me if you have noticed any issue with his suckling? Any signs of a cleft in his palate (roof of his mouth) when you look in his mouth?

And just since he only really needs supplementation from you if he is not getting enough from mum, can you tell me if you have seen her let him nurse? Does she appear to have milk in her glands? Does he have a nice full belly when with her or does it look empty/convex ?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No he seems to take it from the bottle fine.. I did see some milk coming from her but it was only a small amount, she goes through the motions of letting him suckle but he seems too small or weak to find it.. And just ends up calling for her.. He seems cold most of the time even tho hes in a highly heated room and his bed is warm.. She seem û concerned if hes on the other side of the box..he belly doesnt look convex but its only after ive fed him does he seem satisfied.. I left him to call for a long time before i fed him i didnt want to bûtt in unnecessarily
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you again,

I am glad that you aren't appreciated any issues with him directly (since that would lower his chance of potentially surviving). In this case, if he struggles to nurse her, seems not to be getting adequate milk from her, and/or she doesn't have enough milk, then it is fine to intervene and supplement him. (It does sound like you have been reasonable with this). Now if you do so, and if we were to assume she was totally unable to feed him, then do know that at his age he will need to be getting 10 feeds per 24 hours (which means a feed every 2 – 2.5 hours) for the first 2 weeks of life. That said, you can try checking him for fullness before any feeds and/or giving mum a chance to nurse him first to just see if she will be able to share the work with you and take at least some of those feeds. And just to give you a good outline on all the aspects of bottle feeding kittens, I would suggest a read of this guide (LINK). That way you will be ready for any curve ball the kitten may try to throw at you.

Furtermore, the potential for being chilled is quite a concern for him, especially as a lone kitten without others for warmth. Now he does have mom (who will be a heat source), just to note what type of temperatures we tend to keep them at when we have orphan kittens, we usually keep them at
85–90 °F. That said, when you are supplementing heat to a kitten box, you need to make sure to only have a heating pad under half the box. That way the kitten can move away from the heat if too warm. Now of course as he gets bigger, we don't tend to need to keep things as toasty and can gradually lower the temperature to 80 °F by a week to 10 days and then down to to 72 °F by a month of age. So, he won't need it quite as toasty but we do want to make sure we are keeping it near there since getting chilled can end up being fatal for them. So, mum's right to be concerned when he is off on his own, and it may just be an angle to keep an eye on for him.

Overall, it does sound like your approach has been reasonable and I agree that in this situation you are right to supplement this kitten. It may be that he won't need all his feeds from you, so do monitor and play it by ear. But if Bella just cannot feed her kitten herself, then she will need you to keep up the good work to help him flourish and make it through this rough start.


I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Ty so much , should i dilute the milk further as hes premature?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
You are very welcome.

You shouldn't have to dilute the milk because of his potential prematurity.That said, we can see increased risk of constipation with bottle fed babies as opposed to milk fed kittens, therefore if you were to see any straining to pass feces or bloating, then dilution of the milk is often the best first step for these wee ones.

All the best,
Dr. B.