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Rebecca, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 16828
Experience:  Veterinarian for more than 30 years
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My cat had 4 kittens 4 weeks ago. All was well until a few

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My cat had 4 kittens 4 weeks ago. All was well until a few days ago, two kittens died suddenly after showing signs of weakness (inablility to walk/stand). The third died the next day (same symptoms). She now has one kitten left, but she seems reluctant to feed/care for it. She responds to its cries with a sound like a throaty mew, so she is obviously aware of it but will not go to it. If the kitten is placed next to her she will feed it after a while, but she is being very rough with the kitten when grooming it, sometimes biting it hard enough to make the kitten squeal. What is wrong?
I am so sorry to hear about your kittens. It must have been sad to lose the first three, and now to be worried about this one.
My name is Rebecca. I am a veterinarian, and will do my best to help.
I am concerned that the kittens may have something like feline leukemia, or FIP. These are serious viral diseases we see in young cats and kittens.
If this fourth kitten is 4 weeks old, it should be old enough to eat on its own. If Lily won't nurse it, I would start offering kitten milk, like KMR (kitten milk replacer) in a bowl, and add some canned or dry kitten food moistened in the kitten milk. Most 4 week old kittens will start to eat.
I would also consider having the kitten checked by a veterinarian, to be sure that it is not anemic, or having any symptoms of FIP or feline leukemia.
Please let me know what other questions you have I can help with.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Rebecca

Thank you for your reply, I will try the kitten on KMR as you suggest immediately. I have seen this kitten lap water from a plate, so I know it is capable of drinking. Something else I forgot to mention - Lily is being very rough with the kitten when she grooms it, sometimes making it squeal in pain. Is this another sign of rejection?

Many thanks.

That is excellent news that he will lap water. If he can drink, and wants to drink, that is a good sign. Try the KMR next, and if he takes that, then try adding kitten food to the dish.
Sometimes young mothers get rough with their kittens. I am not sure why. It could be they are trying to teach it to play since this is about the age that kittens start to get playful, and as a young mother they overdo it.
I would not take it as a sign of rejection. If she is rejecting the kitten, she would not show interest in grooming and playing with it.
Let me know if there is anything else I can answer. Kindly consider rating my answer, but only when all your questions have been answered.
Rebecca and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for a quick reply. Lily doesn't appear to be playful when treating the kitten roughly. She will start by licking it briskly (I know this is normal), but then will bite at the kitten's fur, maybe to remove any fleas she sees. Sometimes she gets the kitten's skin between her teeth, and I have seen her with the entire face of the kitten in her mouth biting hard enough to make the kittten squeal. I'm concerned that she will injure the kitten, whether intentionally or not. So far she has let go when the kitten's cries get loud.

Once again, many thanks.

This does sound a bit too rough. Fortunately, if it gets worse, you should be able to separate the kitten from her since he is old enough to eat on his own, and survive without her.

Thank you for the great rating! Let me know if I can answer anything else.

Sorry, hit the wrong key! Meant to send it as Info Request only!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Rebecca

I have obtained some KMR and kitten food, but the kitten doesn't seem to want either. This morning I tried to feed it with some KMR in a feeding bottle, but the kitten rejects this as soon as it tastes it. Is there anything else I can do to encourage him to feed?

Many thanks

If he knows how to lap water from a dish, he should catch on soon to lapping milk. Sometimes I mix a little food with the KMR and put it in his mouth to give him a taste of it.

Try starting with KMR that is diluted with water, at room temperature or a little warmer.

He is 4 weeks old, an age that kittens naturally start eating; I can usually have them eating really well by 5 weeks and completely off the mother by 6 weeks. If I have orphan kittens, I try to have them off the bottle by 4 to 5 weeks. He will get it, just be patient with him.


How is your kitten doing?