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Dr L Simmon
Dr L Simmon, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 1350
Experience:  Veterinarian MVB MRCVS
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I have a litter of 6 week old kittens - but one is very

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I have a litter of 6 week old kittens - but one is very small. She is probably half the size of her brothers and sister. She seems healthy enough - but not interested at all in any solid food. Her mum does not stay with them very long now that the others are eating solids as well as feeding from her. I’m worried she isn’t getting enough to eat. Is it safe to bottlecfeed her supplement kittens milk in between feeds from her mum
Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the kitten?
Customer: No - she seems happy and healthy otherwise

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. Just a few moments as I type my response

It's not unusual for there to be one or two 'runts' in a litter, who are naturally smaller, eat less and take longer to thrive. There can be many reasons for this. Sometimes they have received less nutrition when inside their mother, other times they are being 'bullied' by siblings so get less milk, or there may be something going on with them medically, such as a congenital heart issue.

The fact that she has made it to 6 weeks is really reassuring and, in my experience, these guys tend to do just fine.

If the kitten is gaining weight (you may need to check this daily with a kitchen weighing scales), is active and does not have other symptoms such as runny nose/cough/increased breathing rate/vomiting/diarrhoea, it may well be that she is just naturally small. You can certainly help her out by bottle feeding kitten milk. Be sure to not use other types of milk which will not be digestible. You should find though, that if you offer her tasty and warm kitten food often, she will soon start to learn to eat it well! In the mean time, supplementing won't do any harm.

When they receive their first vaccine (normally at 9 weeks), be sure to ask the vet to check her thoroughly, to rule out any obvious congenital issues.

It's also worth saying that all kittens should have been wormed by now, an example of a good quality wormer would be Panacur. As the majority of kittens are born with parasites, it's best to routinely worm them.

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Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thankyou - that’s really reassuring. My only other worry with one of the other kittens - is that although he is eating kitten food now- he doesn’t seem to poo. I saw him struggle in the litter box a few days ago and the small about he passed quite firm but not hard. I put this down to the fact he had only started on solids the previous day or so and figured it was just the transition to solids . However, he continues to eat regularly- but I never see him poo . He seems quiet compared to the others. Is it safe to give him lactulose to try to help him. I was told this by a friend who had had a similar experience- but would like your advice first

Constipation is kitten is not uncommon and can be if they are a little dehydrated, particularly if they are drinking less milk than before. Ensure they all have access to fresh water and know how to use it! This can mean having several different bowls (they tend to prefer ceramic bowls filled to the brim with rain water rather than tap water). Do not put the water bowls beside the food bowl or litter trays as then they are unlikely to use them.

You can also add a few tablespoons of water to their food, particularly if you do not see the kittens drink much (if any) water.

If they feed little and often, this helps stimulate the gut.

Similarly, feeding a very wet kitten food vs a dry one can help with passing stools.

Check under his tail to ensure the fur is not matted and there is not a piece of dried poo, as sometimes this can block the exit! A warm, wet piece of cotton wool can be used to gently clean the bum and may well stimulate a poo.

If you are sure he is not passing poo for several days, or if he is straining/vocalising and only producing a very small amount of hard poo, lactulose can be tried. I use it as a last resort. The issue is that this can cause diarrhoea and lead to further dehydration. For kittens, I would try about 0.1mls to 0.2mls in the mouth as a one off, and then monitor for poo. Never force feed or syringe into mouth as this can result in the lactulose going into the lungs, instead allow him to lick it from a syringe or spoon.

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Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Thankyou. You’ve been very helpful.

Not a problem and best of luck with the kittens, it sounds as though they are in very good hands!