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Kitten “burying” food and then siblings can’t find it

moxiewild

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I am working on trapping a little semi feral family right now. I’ve had three of the kittens (~8 weeks old) for about a week now.

I started off by offering them kitten wet food on the “slurry” side at least four times a day (adding up to about 6oz of food per kitten - believe it or not, they were cleaning their bowl every dang time!!!). In between meals, I worked on slowly introducing them to Dr. Elsey’s Clean Protein Chicken dry as rewards and treats during our socialization sessions. As of a couple days ago, Dr. E kibble is now out and available to them at all times.

Problem is, the biggest boy, Salem, suddenly started trying to bury the wet food...

He didn’t do this in the beginning. Previously they would all nibble on it together, take potty and play breaks, then nibble on it some more and finish it off.

As of two days ago, they eat together, and while his brother and sister (Binx and Oreo) go off to potty and play, Salem will very enthusiastically try to bury the bowl.

Now, since they are crated, he obviously has a limited means of doing this. When he first started he was grabbing and moving blankets and beds over the food. I ultimately took those out, and then he started using the puppy pads. I took some of the puppy pads out and rearranged the way I place the remaining ones to make it more difficult for him to use them for burying. Now he messes them up trying, often still succeeds, and is now also using the toys.

Aside from being terribly messy and forcing me to remove some of the limited enrichment they had in the crate, he and his siblings seem unable to find or access the food once he “buries” it. I try to catch him when I can but he just tries to bury it all over again anyway!

Since he began doing this, the bowls have gone from empty when I go to retrieve them, to half, or more than half, full. I fast tracked introducing the dry food after just two times of this because I was afraid they weren’t going to get enough nutrition.

I’m aware Salem is only acting on instinct, but is there anything I can do here within reason? We have a bad diarrhea issue going on with them right now, so I REALLY want to ensure they’re getting as much wet food as possible...

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And the perp...

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moxiewild

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Oh, and bonus question -

The little girl, Oreo..... she pushes her face into the litter before and after going to the bathroom. She digs out a spot, does her business, then meticulously covers.

But she uses her face just as much as she uses her paws to do this. I just see her adorable little face look up at me when she’s done and it is absolutely covered in litter.

I worry especially because they had/have pretty bad worms (they received their first deworming on Friday - fresh stool sample still pending). I worry about her eyes being so exposed to their infected waste, let alone what all she might be breathing in by doing this........ but maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Monsters Inside Me 😂

Either way, it is not sanitary. I hesitate to clean them since I am trying to build trust, so I am always torn as to what to do when the necessity of handling isn’t completely and blatantly obvious.

Could this possibly be a means of scent marking?

And just for reference, I am scooping their box 4x a day right now.

Oreo, our little ham of the group -

View attachment 304734

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Sarthur2

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Have they been treated for the diarrhea yet? They may need a round of metronidazole to deal with parasites and colon bacteria. This would be different than treatment for worms.
 
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moxiewild

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Have they been treated for the diarrhea yet? They may need a round of metronidazole to deal with parasites and colon bacteria. This would be different than treatment for worms.
We’ve been waiting to collect a stool sample so we could have a more definitive course of action, but I haven’t been able to do that because I’m spending virtually every spare minute I have right now trying to trap the last kitten still and commuting over an hour both ways to do it.

I just haven’t been around to collect fresh sample, basically :/
 
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