3 week old kitten not eating

jessicucat

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Hi, I am fostering a mom, her three babies, and an extra baby (we'll call him BB for clarity) from another litter. BB was born to another momma and had two siblings, but they all died, so they gave me BB to add to my litter. Prior to being added, he was being hand-fed with a very experienced foster and he fought tooth and nail with that foster, so they thought it'd be best if he's with a momma cat.

My momma and her three babies are all super healthy -- all eating well and within the perfect weight range with full little bellies. BB on the other hand, is about half the size of them, despite being roughly a week older. BB is latched onto momma all day and we see him kneading and suckling -- but he never gains weight, and in fact is dropping weight. We believe he may be physically attached to momma but is not actually nursing. Momma is producing milk and other three babies are fine.

As such, we've decided to supplement BB with KMR, hoping he will gain the strength to perhaps suckle stronger. Just like with the other foster, he hates the bottle no matter what we do. We have to slowly drop the formula into his mouth with a syringe, which is arduous and risky because of the risk of aspiration (we've seen bubbles and immediately stop). Despite being tiny, lanky, and usually lethargic, he fights for his life as soon as he sees a bottle nipple, kicking, screaming, and wiggling away. We're barely able to give him 4mL/feeding, and each feeding we sit there with him for over an hour or more to slowly dribble it in. He now has diarrhea too, and so we feed him every few hours to prevent dehydration.

With our most aggressive feeding attempts, he manages to float around the same weight. If we decide to cut down on even one attempt (to allow him to feed with mom or something), his weight drops, sometimes dramatically.

I'm not sure what to do. I've reached out to the foster coordinator about having someone who specializes in singletons taking him in but I know his best chance is with a mom. But at the same time, it's clear he's not eating with mom, and his leaky diarrhea covers the other kittens in poop and he always fights for the same nipple as the runt of the biological litter (we try to move them to different nipples but both of them insist on this one only), and I worry that this will bring down the little runt too.

I wondered if it was cleft palate but apparently there was a point in time with the old foster that he did latch and suckle from a bottle -- but only once! So she says that wouldn't have been possible with cleft. Everyone is so swamped right now with all these kittens so I don't think I can place him with someone else even if we wanted to. I don't know what else to do to keep him alive (I won't even ask for healthy right now, just alive enough that we can work to healthy later). Does anyone have any ideas? I've never handled a baby who hates the bottle so much that he would spit out the milk and use his little energy to wiggle away. Please help!
 

susanm9006

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Is there a vet that the shelter uses? A kitten not gaining and having diarrhea on top of that is in serious condition and needs to see a vet ASAP. It is possible as well that he has something contagious that could be passed on to the other kittens.
 

StefanZ

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Tough. Some babies refuse handfeeding. Frustrating!

You use bottle? What nipple? Some manage the brand of mini miracle nipple better than other nipples.
Also, kittens whom have momma, are often reluctanct for bottles. If so, its usually easier with a needleless syringe - possibly with such a nipple on...

Some manage with a little sponge. Say, such as is used in make up. You drench it with goats milk or kmr, and let him suckle on it. You can held a dropper in your other hand and drop on more....

When he is lethargic, you can give him a little of glucose sugar / dextrose. The proper glucose sugar is often difficult to find in the USA, so in USA its typically a droplet of white caro syrup, put on the gum inside of the lip. This gives quick energhy.
A water solution of this may be used in some emergency situations, say when a kitten is too cold for feeding; as the digestion doesnt work, but glucose is taken up directly into blood.

As he has much diarrheas, you must give him extra salts. A flavorless pedialyte for children. You mix it with the kmr instead of water.... The extra advantage is, pedialyte does contain some glucose, so it will be some extra calories for free....

You can also make your own home made pedialyte. Pedialyte for diarrheas is made of:
You take some rice and lotsa of water. you add minerale kitchen salt (ie kitchen salt with different minerales). And you boil the rice thrice of the usual boiling time...
So the water will contain minerale salts, quite a some glucose sugar, and some carbos dissolved in the fluid: a very good pedialyte against diarrhea; useful for humans and for kittens....


Re him using the same teat as another kitten: let them take turns. When the healthy sleeps, you give him to momma. When the other want to nurse, you handfeed...

J jessicucat
 

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ps, what KMR do you use? This in powder, or this premade liquid?

This in powder is usually more reliable. And if KMR in powder doesnt work, a good alternative is goats milk, preferably raw goats milk.
 

StefanZ

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Ps. When you handfeed him, be sure he is comfortably warm, because he is away from momma.

Its easiest to do it with an IR-lamp, sending its warming rays... An IR lamp is useful in many situations with weak kittens. Or old sickly cats... Or rheumatic humans...
You can perhaps borrow from a neighbour?
 

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I agree with everything StefanZ StefanZ has advised. Poor little guy is struggling, and you will have to continue to use the syringe for now.

Is he on the same formula the other foster used? What color is the diarrhea? If you are using powdered formula, which is best, mix it with clear pedialyte instead of water. That way he gets his electrolytes.

How old is he and how many grams does he weigh?

Have you tried Miracle Nipples? The long slender nipple is most like mom’s, though some kittens prefer the mini nipples.

Miracle Nipples
 
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jessicucat

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hi everyone! i'm going to try to explain to everyone who kindly replied:

- Yes, there is a vet! I have brought BB over to the head of the rescue and she is going to take BB to the vet and take over hand feeding him while treating the diarrhea. We hope that he will eventually be healthy enough to rejoin these babies in a week or two.

- We are using the PetAg bottle kit's standard nipple. I have been searching for Miracle nipples near me but to no avail. The rescue head already placed an order, but it will take a few days to be delivered. We've been using 3mL syringes (with no needle of course) and dripping the KMR veeery slowly to avoid aspiration. Probably not an exaggeration to say that it takes about an hour to dribble 6mL!

- We've been feeding powdered KMR. I make it with water and some unflavored Pedialyte. According to rescue head, BB was eating powdered the one time he ate. Then she tried giving canned and he refused it, and now refuses powdered too. That's why she put him with my momma-- he seemed to latch and suckle! He genuinely looks like he's trying when he's attached to her, but the scale is different story. It's common to see the other three full and sleeping and he's still kneading. It's clear to me now that he wasn't really able to get much from mom despite his greatest attempts.

- He's always warm when I feed him, and I place him on a warmed fuzzy rice sock when I give him the syringe. Again, he's always groggy until he sees the bottle, then he manages to summon all of his energy and screams at the top of his lungs and kicks and punches like he's in the Avengers or something. I don't understand why he uses his energy to refuse food!! So he's never quite lethargic enough to need extra sugar, which we are quite thankful about.

- I was told that he's around the same age as the other babies, but I don't think so. Other babies are about 1-2 weeks old, eyes aren't open yet. BB's eyes are already opened and he has much more dexterity in his limbs, he's able to wobble-crawl quite well (which again, is shocking considering the fact that he is so malnourished and tiny). I think he might be around 3-3.5 weeks. BB is always floating around 5.8oz, which is super tiny for his age -- the younger biological babies are all 8.5-10oz (all healthily gaining about .5oz/day) , making BB the tiniest one despite being the oldest.

- Diarrhea is like a bright mustard yellow. Former foster said his poops used to be more orange but we're solid enough and she didn't worry about it when giving to me.

Hope those are helpful details! Momma was starting to reject him -- picking him out and leaving him in the corner and ignoring him when he cries, so I decided there wasn't much benefit left in leaving him with her and called the rescue coordinator to put him with someone who can give him intensive constant care (which is hard for me to do while handling momma and her three babies and my own cat). I just dropped him off and gave her all the details about the weight and feeding and etc. She is going to take him to the vet and says he may need to take some medications, but she'll pretty much keep him on her 24/7 to keep him warm and constantly dribble bits of KMR throughout the day. The goal is to clear the diarrhea and then build his strength up and then he can rejoin these babies -- hopefully momma won't reject him once he's healthier. I'm going to keep an eye on the remaining babies for diarrhea but momma has been doing a good job cleaning so I don't see many pee or poo spots in her crate (but I do see her stimulating them, so I know they're not constipated).

All of this being said, I won't be able to apply new advice but this has left me and all of the other fosters who have cared/are caring for him super confused so any and all feedback is welcome -- I'll send everything over to her that we haven't tried, or any new insight that we haven't considered. The remaining babies are all in good condition, very clean, very plump, and very healthy.
 

Sarthur2

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Bright yellow diarrhea is indicative of coccidia, which is a parasite that needs treating with Albon or Panacur. Giardia is a protozoa which can also cause diarrhea and is treated with metronidazole, but is not yellow.

Orange diarrhea can mean there is too much bile in the stool and means there may be a liver problem. With proper nutrition it can resolve on its own.

The kitten is clearly suffering one or more conditions and is not absorbing enough nutrients to grow, nor has a mature enough immune system to thrive. You did right to give him to someone who can cater to him through this. Hopefully, he will get the care he needs and begin to thrive.

Keep us posted!
 

Ladyrosee

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Hi, I am fostering a mom, her three babies, and an extra baby (we'll call him BB for clarity) from another litter. BB was born to another momma and had two siblings, but they all died, so they gave me BB to add to my litter. Prior to being added, he was being hand-fed with a very experienced foster and he fought tooth and nail with that foster, so they thought it'd be best if he's with a momma cat.

My momma and her three babies are all super healthy -- all eating well and within the perfect weight range with full little bellies. BB on the other hand, is about half the size of them, despite being roughly a week older. BB is latched onto momma all day and we see him kneading and suckling -- but he never gains weight, and in fact is dropping weight. We believe he may be physically attached to momma but is not actually nursing. Momma is producing milk and other three babies are fine.

As such, we've decided to supplement BB with KMR, hoping he will gain the strength to perhaps suckle stronger. Just like with the other foster, he hates the bottle no matter what we do. We have to slowly drop the formula into his mouth with a syringe, which is arduous and risky because of the risk of aspiration (we've seen bubbles and immediately stop). Despite being tiny, lanky, and usually lethargic, he fights for his life as soon as he sees a bottle nipple, kicking, screaming, and wiggling away. We're barely able to give him 4mL/feeding, and each feeding we sit there with him for over an hour or more to slowly dribble it in. He now has diarrhea too, and so we feed him every few hours to prevent dehydration.

With our most aggressive feeding attempts, he manages to float around the same weight. If we decide to cut down on even one attempt (to allow him to feed with mom or something), his weight drops, sometimes dramatically.

I'm not sure what to do. I've reached out to the foster coordinator about having someone who specializes in singletons taking him in but I know his best chance is with a mom. But at the same time, it's clear he's not eating with mom, and his leaky diarrhea covers the other kittens in poop and he always fights for the same nipple as the runt of the biological litter (we try to move them to different nipples but both of them insist on this one only), and I worry that this will bring down the little runt too.

I wondered if it was cleft palate but apparently there was a point in time with the old foster that he did latch and suckle from a bottle -- but only once! So she says that wouldn't have been possible with cleft. Everyone is so swamped right now with all these kittens so I don't think I can place him with someone else even if we wanted to. I don't know what else to do to keep him alive (I won't even ask for healthy right now, just alive enough that we can work to healthy later). Does anyone have any ideas? I've never handled a baby who hates the bottle so much that he would spit out the milk and use his little energy to wiggle away. Please help!
You should get leur lock syringes. Mine wont use bottles.. only syringes with a miracle nipple attached. Then I can see exactly how much theh eat
 

StefanZ

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hi everyone! i'm going to try to explain to everyone who kindly replied:

- Yes, there is a vet! I have brought BB over to the head of the rescue and she is going to take BB to the vet and take over hand feeding him while treating the diarrhea. We hope that he will eventually be healthy enough to rejoin these babies in a week or two.

- We are using the PetAg bottle kit's standard nipple. I have been searching for Miracle nipples near me but to no avail. The rescue head already placed an order, but it will take a few days to be delivered. We've been using 3mL syringes (with no needle of course) and dripping the KMR veeery slowly to avoid aspiration. Probably not an exaggeration to say that it takes about an hour to dribble 6mL!

- We've been feeding powdered KMR. I make it with water and some unflavored Pedialyte. According to rescue head, BB was eating powdered the one time he ate. Then she tried giving canned and he refused it, and now refuses powdered too. That's why she put him with my momma-- he seemed to latch and suckle! He genuinely looks like he's trying when he's attached to her, but the scale is different story. It's common to see the other three full and sleeping and he's still kneading. It's clear to me now that he wasn't really able to get much from mom despite his greatest attempts.

- He's always warm when I feed him, and I place him on a warmed fuzzy rice sock when I give him the syringe. Again, he's always groggy until he sees the bottle, then he manages to summon all of his energy and screams at the top of his lungs and kicks and punches like he's in the Avengers or something. I don't understand why he uses his energy to refuse food!! So he's never quite lethargic enough to need extra sugar, which we are quite thankful about.

- I was told that he's around the same age as the other babies, but I don't think so. Other babies are about 1-2 weeks old, eyes aren't open yet. BB's eyes are already opened and he has much more dexterity in his limbs, he's able to wobble-crawl quite well (which again, is shocking considering the fact that he is so malnourished and tiny). I think he might be around 3-3.5 weeks. BB is always floating around 5.8oz, which is super tiny for his age -- the younger biological babies are all 8.5-10oz (all healthily gaining about .5oz/day) , making BB the tiniest one despite being the oldest.

- Diarrhea is like a bright mustard yellow. Former foster said his poops used to be more orange but we're solid enough and she didn't worry about it when giving to me.

Hope those are helpful details! Momma was starting to reject him -- picking him out and leaving him in the corner and ignoring him when he cries, so I decided there wasn't much benefit left in leaving him with her and called the rescue coordinator to put him with someone who can give him intensive constant care (which is hard for me to do while handling momma and her three babies and my own cat). I just dropped him off and gave her all the details about the weight and feeding and etc. She is going to take him to the vet and says he may need to take some medications, but she'll pretty much keep him on her 24/7 to keep him warm and constantly dribble bits of KMR throughout the day. The goal is to clear the diarrhea and then build his strength up and then he can rejoin these babies -- hopefully momma won't reject him once he's healthier. I'm going to keep an eye on the remaining babies for diarrhea but momma has been doing a good job cleaning so I don't see many pee or poo spots in her crate (but I do see her stimulating them, so I know they're not constipated).

All of this being said, I won't be able to apply new advice but this has left me and all of the other fosters who have cared/are caring for him super confused so any and all feedback is welcome -- I'll send everything over to her that we haven't tried, or any new insight that we haven't considered. The remaining babies are all in good condition, very clean, very plump, and very healthy.
You tell about the different variations of KMR he got; and now he is refusing the powdered too.

My advice would be to try with some other "flavor": best is goats milk, preferably raw goats milk as it does has some extra, potentially healthy properties.
But the main reason is, the taste is different, as its real milk from an alive momma and there is no whey nor any funny ingredients..

In not, so the GNC brand of kmr is good, GNC is made with goats milk as base, again, no whey.
I think there are also other brands in USA made with goats milk as base, not whey....

I see you did already applied some pedialyte. Go for it all out, ie mix out totally, no water just clear flavorless pedialyte; to give these extra calories. its no real danger of overdosing, as pedialyte is made so it will be equivalent to body fluids.

OR even; for a couple of days, dont give this KMR he fights off, but just this flavorless pedialyte! Hopefully he wont fight this off, and take what he needs...
He wont grow on pedialyte alone, but he will survive on it at least one week... And it will hopefully calm down his system...

This is a last defence trick, but it works sometimes as it buys time. Here buys time to find and get goats milk and miracle nipples...
 
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jessicucat

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Good morning! Thanks for all the quick replies! I think coccidia sounds right, I had a litter of bottle babies last year that got it and they all had coccidia and their pool was pretty similar from what I remember. The rescue has a lot of medicine stocked up and the rescue head did mention trying Albon, so it's good to know she's in the right track. She gave me some Albon and other medication to take back with me too, in case the other three start showing similar symptoms. I'll forward the syringe and goat milk recommendations -- the rescue head's house is much better stocked and she probably has more things to try with him so I'm hopeful. BB is tiny but has such fierce energy (even if only when faced with a bottle) so I have a lot of hope for him :)
 
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jessicucat

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Update: BB is doing well with the new foster, who gives him lots of attention. Unfortunately, it seems like BB gave at least one of the kittens in my litter coccidia during his short stay here, so we are also giving everyone Albon and Clindamycin and monitoring their weights multiple times a day to make sure they're not losing more fluids than gaining.

It's been about three days and momma never poops in her litter box -- she pees in there just fine, but she always poops elsewhere. So far, she's escaped her crate and room to poop in my resident cat's box, a little box cushioned with towels that I made for her to use as a den, and in the bathtub. I've tried different types of litter (both scented and unscented non-clumping clay, feline pine, shredded newspaper) and again, she will use it to pee but just doesn't poop in there. We also opened up the create and let her have the entire room so that the babies' den, the food bowls, and litter box could be far away from each other, in case she's worried about the poop being too close to them. Again, it doesn't work and she'd rather poop right on the floor. Any recommendations for this?
 

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If she is ex homeless, so perhaps try to put some natural material. Say a little earth / dirt.
Otherwise, unscented.
also, many cats pee and poo in different places, so it may be in part why she does so. As soon she pees where she does, she wont poo there...

Pooing in the bathtub isnt that bad. Peculiarly enough, some cats do so, and why, its even quite comfortable... So do encourage her to continue with the bathtub...
 
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jessicucat

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Hi everyone! She used the second box! Her poop was very loose (she probably also got the coccidia too -- she's already on Albon because I've been giving it to everyone) and she has long fur so it got all over her bum. I tried to help wipe it but she got really scared. I kept trying because I was worried it would get on the babies, whose eyes are just starting to open, and she bit me (my bad though, since she did try to warn me). It's all crusted now and she probably needs a bath to get it all out, but that will have to wait a long time since she's already stressed with the babies and a bath would stress her out even more. Is this a fair decision?

An update on the babies, the Albon & Clindamycin seem to be working. Some of the babies were stalled yesterday in terms of growth but their weights are once again going up and they seem to be feeding with much more energy :)
 
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