I’ve tried everything...

Lenacroissant

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Hello everyone,

I’m new here. Exhausted and a bit discouraged, taking any advice anyone can give me.

I started fostering a mama cat and her 2 week old kitten a week and a half ago. She initially had 4 kittens. One she didn’t care for. It was bottle but passed the day after. One passed from the day after - it was bleeding from the mouth. Third one started losing weight for a few days and suddenly passed the same way as the one before. Fourth one was starting to lose weight so I took them in. Mind you, I’ve been non stop bottle feeding for 3 months and I’m running on almost no energy at this point.

A vet checked the mama, turns out she isn’t producing much milk or the quality is poor - hence the loss of weight. Now, here’s the trick.

I’ve been syringe feeding the little one with a miracle nipple for more than a week and it’s been a disaster since day one. She does NOT want it. She never asks for food. She never seems hungry. She literally fights it every step of the way. Head going side to side, meowing, you name it. The vet tells me she has no succion reflex but she doesn’t want the milk (Royal Canin) either way... so I’ve been forcing her every time. Of course, she’s aspirated some, so she’s on antibiotics. The vet tells me I’m gonna have to do that until she’s old enough to eat on her own....

It’s breaking my heart to have to force feed her every time. It takes me 40+ minutes just to give her 10ml. I know I’ve done a good job since she arrived at 212g at 2 weeks and she’s now 318g at 3 but psychologically it’s not the easiest.

I’ve tried the burrito, taking her by the scruff, all the advice I found online. I don’t know what I can try anymore. She was eating from her mom just fine and was suckling from her okay.

Am I doing something wrong ?

If anyone has any advice, I’m willing to try it. Thank you very much.
 

Sarthur2

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Is she also still eating from mom in addition to the supplementing?

Perhaps try feeding her with the syringe without the nipple. Burrito her, hold her scruff, and give small amounts in the side of her mouth, let her swallow, and go again.

How often do you feed her? If she won’t take all the milk, stop and try again in 2 hours. Perhaps she’ll be hungrier.

I empathize with your exhaustion; it’s not easy and you are clearly helping her to survive. She’s a feisty kitten! Hang in there!
 
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Lenacroissant

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Is she also still eating from mom in addition to the supplementing?

Perhaps try feeding her with the syringe without the nipple. Burrito her, hold her scruff, and give small amounts in the side of her mouth, let her swallow, and go again.

How often do you feed her? If she won’t take all the milk, stop and try again in 2 hours. Perhaps she’ll be hungrier.

I empathize with your exhaustion; it’s not easy and you are clearly helping her to survive. She’s a feisty kitten! Hang in there!
Thank you for your reply. She is not getting anything from the mom but she still tries to suckle on her nipple. She does that for a few seconds and generally lets go since mamma doesn’t have anything left.

I’m going to try taking off the nipple. Maybe she just doesn’t like it. Hadn’t thought about that at all.

When she arrived, it was 5mL every 2 hours and 3 during the night. Currently it’s every 3 hours during the day and 4 at night. I give her 10mL now. I take a break at the 5mL mark and start again to let her settle down a bit.

I have faith that she can pull through. The mama cleans her and is very caring otherwise. So I’m helping her along by feeding her last baby. I just wish it could be more pleasant for her and not some kind of torture...
 

First sneakyblonde

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How are you positioning the kitten for feeding?
Kittens need "4 on the floor". Like nursing on mom cat. Not held on their backs like human babies.
Keeping them warm is i.prtant too. I stick a kitten in my arm pit, to keep it warm and hold it still while trying to feed. (DON'T laugh, it works pretty well!)
Could there be sores in the mouth or some other oral problem?
Are the nostrils clear for easy breathing?
Have you tried different shaped nipples? I had kittens from the same litter that had a strong nipple shape preferences just try to remember that at 3:00am feedings. Also, try a different formula. I have always used powdered KMR formula mixed WITH DISTILLED WATER. Tap water can have chlorine, scale, etc. that tastes bad to kittens.
I used to rub the belly - before feedings. Some have "tense bellies" from gas.
Let me know if any of these help.
Meanwhile, if I think of any more possibilities, I will add them for you.
C.
 
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Lenacroissant

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How are you positioning the kitten for feeding?
Kittens need "4 on the floor". Like nursing on mom cat. Not held on their backs like human babies.
Keeping them warm is i.prtant too. I stick a kitten in my arm pit, to keep it warm and hold it still while trying to feed. (DON'T laugh, it works pretty well!)
Could there be sores in the mouth or some other oral problem?
Are the nostrils clear for easy breathing?
Have you tried different shaped nipples? I had kittens from the same litter that had a strong nipple shape preferences just try to remember that at 3:00am feedings. Also, try a different formula. I have always used powdered KMR formula mixed WITH DISTILLED WATER. Tap water can have chlorine, scale, etc. that tastes bad to kittens.
I used to rub the belly - before feedings. Some have "tense bellies" from gas.
Let me know if any of these help.
Meanwhile, if I think of any more possibilities, I will add them for you.
C.
She’s fed the normal way and not on her back. I know you’re not supposed to do that. And she’s kept warm since she stays close to mom most times.

I’ve tried the burrito, it’s even worse actually. Scruff same thing. Took off the nipple and it’s just as complicated.

I picked up another brand of milk. I’m going to try that but I don’t have much hope...
 

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Maybe she'd suck on a makeup sponge? You can find videos on that method on Youtube, just google "sponge feeding kittens". (In short---soak sponge with formula, get kitten sucking, slowly add more formula until she's done)
 

Sarthur2

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It’s unusual for a kitten to fight feeding this much after the first couple of days. Perhaps a different formula will help.
 
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Lenacroissant

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I just saw a “sponge sucking video”. Trip to the store tomorrow to try that one.

TonightI tried mixed the milk with some Mother and baby cat mousse. It was a bit better. Not there yet but not as bad as just the milk.

The other brand of milk was a no no.

I’ve definitely never had to deal with that before. At least I can say I’m learning. Today is her 3 week mark as well, so Happy Birthday to the little one.
 

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I just saw a “sponge sucking video”. Trip to the store tomorrow to try that one.

TonightI tried mixed the milk with some Mother and baby cat mousse. It was a bit better. Not there yet but not as bad as just the milk.

The other brand of milk was a no no.

I’ve definitely never had to deal with that before. At least I can say I’m learning. Today is her 3 week mark as well, so Happy Birthday to the little one.
What kmr do you use?

My suggestion is you try with goats milk. It should have different taste than most kmr, and is OK food by itself - often used as an alternative, if kmr doesnt work by any reason.
Raw goats milk if you can get it, but for example, Meyenberg makes a decent powdered gm.
 
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Lenacroissant

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What kmr do you use?

My suggestion is you try with goats milk. It should have different taste than most kmr, and is OK food by itself - often used as an alternative, if kmr doesnt work by any reason.
Raw goats milk if you can get it, but for example, Meyenberg makes a decent powdered gm.
I use the Royal Canin Babycat Milk. And I tried the brand Neobion tonight that is sold here at the vet. Didn’t work.

I’m going to look around to see if I find any raw goat milk. I’m willing to try anything. She’s on her second day of antibiotics. I hope it starts working soon because between the sneezing and the fact that she’s congested, it’s not helping.
 

First sneakyblonde

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She’s fed the normal way and not on her back. I know you’re not supposed to do that. And she’s kept warm since she stays close to mom most times.

I’ve tried the burrito, it’s even worse actually. Scruff same thing. Took off the nipple and it’s just as complicated.

I picked up another brand of milk. I’m going to try that but I don’t have much hope...
Of course you haven't lost hope or you would have surrendered it to the SPCA.
I know from your post, you know the proper feeding position. I always give proper feeding position because someone else reading this may not.

I had some nipples that were a long, cone shape I got for fostering baby possums.
The longer, thinner shape may force .

I use the Royal Canin Babycat Milk. And I tried the brand Neobion tonight that is sold here at the vet. Didn’t work.

I’m going to look around to see if I find any raw goat milk. I’m willing to try anything. She’s on her second day of antibiotics. I hope it starts working soon because between the sneezing

Sweetie, I could tell you knew the proper feeding position from your post. But I always include it for people that might read this post that don't.
First, you say the kitten tries to nurse on mom cat. Can you see if the TONGUE is forming the "U-shape" to nurse? It tongue should form a very deep "U" to "latch" correctly.
Try rubbing the bottle nipple against the nipple the kitten just tried to nurse on. Each kitten uses the same nipple every time. There are scents on the mom cat's nipple and breast tissue, that help the blind kittens find the nipple it nurses on).
Second, I found that the "4 PAWS VET NIPPLES, NUMBER N-30", are longer, thinner nipples and help weak sucklers form the TONGUE into the important "U-SHAPE", to nurse easier. They do NOT have the bulb shape on the end of the nipple. (A long, thin medicine dropper (pictured) can also help form the natural "U" SHAPE.
The kitten could have a slight mouth deformity or brain damage that causes it to not suckle correctly or strongly.
I discovered the 4 Paws nipples, while fostering baby possums. They were very helpful, more the shape of a natural possum nipple.
I attatched photos, so you can see the difference between the two styles.
As a last resort, you may have to tube feed. Your Vet or a wild animal recue group, can teach you in a few minutes. It's easy, just scary to beginners.
I know by now, you are tired of running to the vet and pet supply store, but next trip, see if they have this type of nipple. Or ask neighbors on "NEXTDOOR".
Meanwhile, try rubbing the bottle nipple you have, against the cat's nipple the kitten tries nursing on. Hopefully the kitten will be fooled into taking the bottle as mom's nipple.
Also, lightly petting the top of the head, "tickling" the lips with 20210620_215555.jpg 20210620_215519.jpg 20210620_215634.jpg a wet fingertip, or stroking the sides of the face, (before offering the bottle), will stimulate the muscles used to "latch on", necessary for nursing.
You have not given up hope! You are exhausted and frustrated because you have to fight a baby at every feeding. I know that feeling, as do others on this site.
Hopefully, you will find an answer on here, from experienced people.
One that YOUR baby will respond to and start eating hungrily and without a fight at every feeding.
C.
 

StefanZ

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I had some nipples that were a long, cone shape I got for fostering baby possums.
The longer, thinner shape may force .
Sounds alike an useful tip. Could you describe more? both about the nipples, and perhaps also about fostering baby possums... So we other may learn this too.
IF so, please start an own thread, so it will be easier visible and searcheable.

And perhaps a link here to your new post / thread.
 

First sneakyblonde

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Hi,
As requested by StefanZ an advisor;
I am reposting the info I posted as an answer to a question, regarding a kitten that fought bottle feedings.

The nipples I used for kittens with a "weak suckle" or fought bottle feedings were the: "FOUR PAWS, NO. N-30 VET NIPPLES." 4 in a box. NOTE: PRICE IS FOR EACH NIPPLE, NOT ALL 4 IN THE BOX.
I bought them long time ago at Petco. (I'm sure they are available through other pet suppliers, pet shops and Veterinarian's offices.
I will attach pictues, so the differance is more obvious and easier to see. The nipples are removed from the nipple rings, to more clearly show the DIFFERENCES in the shapes. The other nipple is a pet nurser everyone knows).

Some kittens don't readily form the tongue into the "U-shape", nessasary to latch on and suckle.
A long, medicine dropper can also be used, (also shown in photos).
Most pet nipples have a more bulbus nipple shape, contoured to a bell shape in front of the bottle ring.This may make nursing more difficult. It may require more suction and may be an issue for weaker kittens.
The 4 PAWS style, is a longer, straighter and less bulbus nipple, more of a cone shape with a smaller "bell" shape before the ring. Making an easier and better fit, for the important tongue "U-shape", needed for nursing, sealing and making "latching on" easier.
The over all shape and smaller bell, possibly requires much less suction.

Kittens can have the top of the head gently petted, a wet finger rubbed on their lips and the sides of the face stroked, to help stimulate the muscles used for suckling. Have you watched a cat suckling in it's sleep? Note the facial movements and the mucles it uses.
Kittens are born with these important muscles, they are formed while the kittens are still in the womb.
If the Mom cat is available, rubbing the bottle nipple on her nipples and milk line will transfer the scent that blind kittens use to find the nipple.
Bear in mind, each kitten usually has a specific nipple it nurses from and WON'T nurse from another nipple. Try to use only that nipple for scenting the bottle.
 

First sneakyblonde

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Sorry, my resident cat, Ashes, dropped out of his cat tree on to my phone before I finished my last post... and he posted it! (Ferals - you have to love them, or you have kill them! Lol!)
Ashes, is a 7 year old silver tabby. I rescued him as an abused feral kitten, then fostered and adopted him.
I was also asked by StepanZ, to comment on baby possums I fostered.
That is when I discovered the "4 PAWS NO. N-30 VET NIPPLES", mentioned in an previous post, about kittens that fight a bottle or have a weak suckle.
Opossums are a marsupial, meaning the babies are nursed in a "pouch", like kangaroos.
The marsupial nipples are quite differant from that of mammals.
They are thinner and longer and the baby possums attatch to the nipples until they are weaned.
Baby possums are suprisingly difficult to pull off the nipple.
(I found a possum just hit by a car. The body was "squirming" in a peculiar way. I found it was a female, with 5 tiny babies in her pouch!
So, to try and save them, I reached in the pouch and I pulled them from the nipples of their dead mother. (Yes. I'm sure Mom was really dead, not just "playing possum". Her head was smashed by a tire.)
To keep them warm, one by one, I stuffed them in my bra cleavage. Mother nature's "portable incubator"! Luckily, my husband was very tolerant and not at all surprised. I had done this with birds and other baby animals.
So, my adventures fostering and bottle raising 5 baby possums began!
I didn't know how old they were, at what age weaning takes place or much else.
They were tiny and more fragile than new born kittens.
I couldn't find much information from Fish and Game, Animal Control, the Zoo or the library. They really DIDN'T seem too concerened about 5 orphaned possums and viewed me as slightly crazy for wanting to save them. (It was the late 70's, so no computers for help).
I put them in a box after it was warmed, with lots of flat toweling, a stuffed toy, a wind up watch,(to mimic a heart beat), and a heat lamp safely above...
I had seen the nipples when I pulled them out of the pouch, it was longer, thinner and more like a "straw", compared to mammal nipples.
I had volunteered with a wild animal rescue and used what resources I happened to have. They did not really want the usual nipples on the pet nurser bottles. I used what I happened to have, a "pipette" and canned KMR, until I found the "4 paws" brand nipples the next day.
They accepted it much better because it was closer in shape to a possum nipple and they could suckle instead of the "drip feed" of droplets.
The rest was pretty much like fostering mammal babies.
Except I gave them a "cave" to hide in, a metal popcorn tin. Since the babies were not able to latch on permanantly, I fed more frequently.
I DON'T KNOW what takes place in a marsupial's pouch... So I did what you do with other babies, stimulate them to pass urine and move their bowels.
Wee hours of the morning, I went to feed them - there were ONLY 4 babies in the box! I recounted, STILL ONLY 4 BABIES!!
Where do you find a baby possum at 1:00am?!
I guess they weren't warm enough...
One had escaped the box and climbed into a quilt hanging over my office chair! (Did I mention, I had a very tolerant husband?)
I switched to a heating pad under 2/3 of the box, so they could move away, if it was too warm.
I think it provided more direct warmth, like Mom, and more darkness. How dark is it in the pouch of a possum?
Possums are nocturnal omnivore scavengers. I know adults will eat canned dog food, turkey feed and they love persimmons.
When they developed teeth, I fed dog food thinned with KMR formula, rice baby cereal, persimmons and jars of asst. baby food.
When weaned they were placed in an outdoor kennel with a small trash can for a cave and taught to forage.
I released them at a friend's cabin and supplemented their diet with dry kibble, until I was certain they were self-sufficent.
I think my success was due to general knowledge of fostering, knowing basic habitat and diet requirements and most of all, a willingness to try and refusing to fail.
I hope this helps others to rise to the occasion and accept new challanges, to "observe and adapt" when fostering any animal.
They will communicate their needs, you only need to listen with your heart and answer with love.
Cindy
StepanZ and Moderators, please feel free to edit for length.
 
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Lenacroissant

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Thank you for your reply.

Sadly she’s still inhaling food even though I thought it was better. Woke up today and she had dry milk under her nose. And she’s breathing roughly. Called the clinic to ask if à feeding tube could be put so it’s not as rough for her when it comes to meal times and so she doesn’t develop pneumonia.

I’ll keep you guys updated. I really appreciate your help
 

First sneakyblonde

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Sounds alike an useful tip. Could you describe more? both about the nipples, and perhaps also about fostering baby possums... So we other may learn this too.
IF so, please start an own thread, so it will be easier visible and searcheable.

And perhaps a link here to your new post / thread.
StphanZ
Here is the link if i did it right:I’ve tried everything...
I'm not "tech savy".
Feel free to correct any errors! Thank you,
C.
 

First sneakyblonde

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Thank you for your reply.

Sadly she’s still inhaling food even though I thought it was better. Woke up today and she had dry milk under her nose. And she’s breathing roughly. Called the clinic to ask if à feeding tube could be put so it’s not as rough for her when it comes to meal times and so she doesn’t develop pneumonia.

I’ll keep you guys updated. I really appreciate your help
Feeding tubes are not usually surgically placed.
They are put down the throat into the stomach, at each feeding. A special tube, (a "French feeding tube"), is attached to a syringe with the formula in it.
The tube looks a lot like a "Foley cathater", inserted through the urethra into the bladder.
I suggest switching to an eye dropper, used in the side cheek pocket.
Go past her usual feeding time, by up to 1 hour, so she should be hungry.
Squeeze ONLY a couple of drops into the cheek pocket, (DON'T force the teeth open. The eye dropper goes in the cheek, next to the closed teeth, like a chipmunk pouch). WATCH the throat for any swallowing movements. If she dosen't swallow those drops right away, don't give more until she does.
If she swallows those drops. Try placing the eye dropper in her mouth like a nursing bottle, with the tip of the eye dropper just past the gum line.
Watch for the tongue curl. Is it a definate "U Shape" cradling the eye dropper? Or does it remain flat?
Do you see what I'm trying to have YOU do? Slowly check, test and observe all the functions required for nursing - one at a time.
Look for any mechanical abnormality. Does her throat move smoothly and rythmaclly?
I don't need the answers. I telling you what to look for that you might miss seeing, in "the fight to feed her".
She could have weak throat muscles or some other problem that prevents nursing normally.
C.
 

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If the kitten is still inhaling milk, she likely has pneumonia now. She may need a steroid shot to help clear her lungs in addition to the antibiotics. She’s not hungry because she does not feel well. Do not force feed milk to her right now. Drop small amounts of pedialyte into her mouth and let her swallow. She may not survive this. Have you considered turning her over to a new foster?
 
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