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HELP - how do I hand rear kittens?

(16 Posts)
frostyfingers Tue 22-Sep-09 10:51:03

My feckless cat gave birth last night to 8 kittens. Sadly four died almost immediately, but we have still got 4. She has just got up and walked away from them. All she's interested in is food - if I put her in with babies she just sits on them, she hasn't licked them or anything, and if they squeak she shows no interest. I tried latching them on to her, but had to squeeze really hard for milk, and they just couldn't do it. I've been to vet and have some CIMICAT and droppers and we're going to have a go at doing it ourselves.

I realise that it is a longshot, and not likely to be successful, but don't want to give up on them. Can anyone give me really handy tips.

So far we have a heat lamp on them, and a hot water bottle under them (have a thermometer on them to make sure they're not too hot or cold. Have fed them once with the teat/dropper and got a little down them, and rubbed their tummies but nothing came out. Not surprised really as so little has gone in.

I just need any practical tips from anyone who has done this before. What do I need to look out for in the way of things going wrong.

Desperate to succeed so all advice welcome.
Thanks.

Disenchanted3 Tue 22-Sep-09 10:52:12

Oh god, I have no idea but want to wish you luck!

clayre Tue 22-Sep-09 10:54:40

my mum hand reared our cat but that was 20 years ago, she also used cimicat and a syrenge, mum was up with her every few hours thru the nte feeding, dioreah is the main thing to look out for, it can kill a kitten very quickly.

Good Luck

castille Tue 22-Sep-09 11:05:02

Poor yousad

We had to syringe-feed our kittens for a few days when they were tiny as their similarly feckless mother vanished on a jolly.
Try different size syringes and see what they get on best with. And have you got a tiny teat? We fixed one on to the end of the syringe which was quite successful.

As well as massaging their tummies, the vet also suggested using a cotton bud to massage their bottoms after a feed as that is what mother cats do to aid digestion.

TBH it was hard, it's a messy, time-consuming business at first, but the kittens got the hang of feeding from the syringe after a while and they were fine. Mother did return though, so it was only temporary.

Good luck.

lavenderkate Tue 22-Sep-09 11:08:18

Yes our cat is now 8 and was a kitten with a crap Mum born here in our house.
We got a lot of advice from our vet and managed to successfully hand rear them.
She is the most loving creature imaginable now.

Good luck.

beautifulgirls Tue 22-Sep-09 16:46:47

This is an excellent veterinary based resource you should take a read of
www.fabcats.org/owners/kittens/handrearing.html

It is intensive but can be done. The main thing is to keep them well hydrated. Any signs of diarrhoea you are best to make the milk up slightly more diluted than the pack suggests for a feed or two and that will help. Once they get the idea of how to feed it will get easier. Personally I have found the droppers and syringes quite hard to use, likewise the kitten bottles that you have to cover with your finger and adjust flow, but if you search about there are some tiny bottles made for pets that are like mini baby bottle ideas with rubber teats on them that I have found a lot easier. I'll hunt about in a moment and see if I can find you a link.

beautifulgirls Tue 22-Sep-09 16:52:04

www.seapets.co.uk/products/dog-supplies/dog-food/dog-weaning/hagen-pet-nurser-kit-20z.html?ref=googl ebase

The above is a Hagen Pet feeder bottle size 2oz that should be ideal size for kittens. I have no idea how easily you can get these in pet stores - I used them from where I work (vets) so you might like to get the yellow pages out and start ringing about pet stores and maybe vets too to see if anyone has one. If not ask your vet if they are able to order one in for you. In our clinic at least we could get one in the next day delivery so if you call them now you can have it tomorrow if they have the same wholesaler arrangement.

MadrasHouse Tue 22-Sep-09 18:24:01

Royal Canin's powdered kitten milk comes with its own bottle & teat in the tin.

Very very best of luck x

Picante Tue 22-Sep-09 18:27:45

sad

Good luck. I syringe-fed a baby guinea-pig for about 3 days before he latched on to his mum and it was exhausting.

frostyfingers Wed 23-Sep-09 09:25:30

Thanks for the advice. After a traumatic night, sadly we lost two. However the other two are quite perky, and amazingly I put mum in with them again this morning (having had several goes yesterday and she just jumped out) and she has stayed with them. They have snuggled up and squawked and looked for teats and she hasn't moved so I'm hoping that we can leave her with them.

One question though, they were fed at 7.30, and have been with her since then and are in theory due another feed now. Do I leave them where they are which is what my instinct says although there can't be much milk, or do I interfere?

I'm knackered - DH stayed up until 1.30 then I got up and have been up since 3am - can barely think straight so I hope to god she does feed them cos I don't know how many nights of this I can take! I'm too old for being up all night!

beautifulgirls Wed 23-Sep-09 09:30:45

If they are rooting around looking for the teats and seem unsettled then they are hungry and you may need to feed them, but if they have done that and settled down again it suggests they are getting what they want when they want it. You'll have to use your instinct a bit here but it sounds like great news that the mum has settled with them today. Best of luck.

frostyfingers Wed 23-Sep-09 09:37:31

Thanks - just been to check and all snuggled up so I'll leave for time being. Please god let these two make it!

frostyfingers Wed 23-Sep-09 09:38:41

Sorry, BG, meant to say thank you for links, we have a feeder and teat from vet which is ok, but not brilliant and if I have to feed more long term will look at getting something better.

frostyfingers Fri 25-Sep-09 12:08:31

Quick update - we have managed to keep the two remaining kittens going, and mum is sucklng them a bit. We went to vets yesterday and she was given hormone injection to induce milk (why it wasn't offered earlier I don't know....), and she seems to have a little more.

We have to latch them on as they don't seem to have got the hang of it yet, and I'm not sure how much is going down so we are supplementary feeding after they've fed from her. It's a real rollercoaster though, yesterday we thought one was a gonner, but today he's doing better and his sister is weaker so we're now worried about her.

At least mum is now with them and keeping them warm, she's not washing them much, but they seem to be ok for now. Fingers crossed all round!

beautifulgirls Fri 25-Sep-09 22:27:17

So far so good - hopefully things will go ok. Thanks for the update.

frostyfingers Mon 28-Sep-09 09:27:59

Sadly we lost the tortie last night, she'd tried so hard but just couldn't keep going. We were feeding every hour, and she'd had some glucose but something was obviously wrong. Very sad, amazing how attached you get to such a little thing.

The ginger boy is doing quite well now, he's suckling and being hand fed, and has put on a bit of weight so hopefully he'll keep it up. Mum had a 2nd hormone injection (she can have as many as necessary, luckily) as she isn't awash with milk. Still not convinced yet though - it's hard not to keep checking on him.

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