Taking care of kittens - help

Aeoh

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Hello,

We took in a stray about a month ago, not realizing she was quite pregnant. Surprise - she had kittens last week (the same day I took her to the vet to confirm she was pregnant, ha), and all 4 of them seem pretty healthy so far and she’s doing a good job of feeding them, cleaning them, etc.

I’ve been doing a ton of research since she had them. My concern is at the 3/4 week mark, I understand they start needing a mix of solid food and formula in addition. Me and my partner work normal work hours where we are gone for approx 9 hours a day. There is not really anyone we can depend on EVERYDAY to feed them within that 9 hours that we are gone - meaning their feeding might lag between 7am and about 4/5pm.

They would be able to regularly get fed at about 11pm, 4am, 7am, 430pm, 8pm. There is a large gap in the middle that doesn’t follow the 3-5 hour range.

Will this be detrimental to their health and development? We want to do everything we can to make sure they get what they need and are healthy, but I’m an extreme worrier and if we know that it’s not survivable for them, we will try to find outside resources (but the mom is very settled with us and we don’t want to have to remove her from the environment. Plus, we love her and the kitties!)

I appreciate any help and advice. We didn’t plan on having kitties, but we are trying our best to be good caretakers.
 

lutece

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As long as mom is feeding the kittens, you don't need to worry about formula. They will naturally start to eat mom's food when they are ready to wean. Were you looking at resources that discussed how to take care of orphaned kittens?
 

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Kittens begin to wean to soft foods between 6-8 weeks, but will continue to nurse from mom. As long as you put plenty of wet and dry food down, they will learn to eat and can nibble throughout the day while you both are away at work. 😊

You will need a kitten-sized litter pan with non-clumping litter once they begin to eat and have solid poops.

A Aeoh
 
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Aeoh

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As long as mom is feeding the kittens, you don't need to worry about formula. They will naturally start to eat mom's food when they are ready to wean. Were you looking at resources that discussed how to take care of orphaned kittens?
Honestly I have been reading so much it’s possible that I mistakingly read about orphaned kittens. I was under the impression that even when weaning, they have to have some sort of food (wet) every 4-5 hours.

If it’s just a matter of leaving out extra kitten food when we go to work, that’s a little more reassuring!
 
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Aeoh

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Kittens begin to wean to soft foods between 6-8 weeks, but will continue to nurse from mom. As long as you put plenty of wet and dry food down, they will learn to eat and can nibble throughout the day while you both are away at work. 😊

You will need a kitten-sized litter pan with non-clumping litter once they begin to eat and have solid poops.

A Aeoh
Great! Like I said, I’m a worrier and I just want them to be healthy. We have excess kitten food in the house right now (wet and dry) because I read that’s what mom is supposed to be eating as well so leaving more out wouldn’t be an issue!

We did already purchase non clumping litter and an extra litter pan that they should easily be able to maneuver 😊. Still have clumping litter for mom in the room with them at the moment, but when they start walking and exploring we will switch with non clumping.
 

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Wonderful! You’ve educated yourself quite nicely and you sound very well prepared. :lovecat2:

And you are right that kittens need to eat 4-6 times a day while young. I currently have a pair of ten-month olds who are finally moving from 3 wet food feedings a day to two, with dry food and water always available. My 4 “kittens” - now 6 years old and still living with their mom and me - ate wet food meals every 4 to 6 hours the first few months. You’ll find yourself going through lots of cases of wet food!

Keep us posted, and we love pictures!
 

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Be very careful of that clumping litter, once they move around, switch it to non-clumping, like you said, they almost always taste the litter and it can block their intestines. I set flats that canned goods come in around, kittens have tiny bladders and can't always make it to the box. they are free and you can just throw them out when they are too dirty. Yeah, I would just set a bowl of kitten chow dry out, mama can eat it too, she needs the extra nutrition and calories right now. Bless you for helping her!
 
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Aeoh

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Wonderful! You’ve educated yourself quite nicely and you sound very well prepared. :lovecat2:

And you are right that kittens need to eat 4-6 times a day while young. I currently have a pair of ten-month olds who are finally moving from 3 wet food feedings a day to two, with dry food and water always available. My 4 “kittens” - now 6 years old and still living with their mom and me - ate wet food meals every 4 to 6 hours the first few months. You’ll find yourself going through lots of cases of wet food!

Keep us posted, and we love pictures!
I’ve never been around kittens (I’ve only been around cats for about a year!) so I’m trying to educate myself as much as humanly possible! I’m obsessed with the little guys now.

There’s Momma Bean (short for TiaBeanie) and her babies - temporarily named Tux, Shelby, Lucy, and Una until they go to their permanent homes in a few months 😊
 

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Sarthur2

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Mom is very pretty! The babies are adorable. They need to stay with mom for 12-16 weeks. 😊

Yes, they grow quickly! ❤
 
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Aeoh

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Be very careful of that clumping litter, once they move around, switch it to non-clumping, like you said, they almost always taste the litter and it can block their intestines. I set flats that canned goods come in around, kittens have tiny bladders and can't always make it to the box. they are free and you can just throw them out when they are too dirty. Yeah, I would just set a bowl of kitten chow dry out, mama can eat it too, she needs the extra nutrition and calories right now. Bless you for helping her!
Thank you for the advice! I planned on switching the litter before they hit the two week mark (which would be next Wednesday), but if they start moving before then, I will absolutely switch it earlier! Right now they’re just crawling around the box and mom, lol.

We did get puppy pads to line the floor and put under their blankets once they start really moving around. Hopefully it’ll help with a little of the mess!

She’s sweet! The whole thing was a misunderstanding - the first vet we went to told us they couldn’t tell if she was spayed and to wait to see if she went into heat (we did want her spayed, but they threw so much info at me the first day I picked her up from outside that I didn’t question it until she started looking FAT the next week). We didn’t plan on kittens but just taking it as we go and trying to be good parents and grandparents.
 
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Aeoh

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Mom is very pretty! The babies are adorable. They need to stay with mom for 12-16 weeks. 😊

Yes, they grow quickly! ❤
She’s a sweetheart!

Is 12-16wks recommended? We’ve been seeing 8-12wks, so we’ve been leaning towards trying to get them to homes around 12 weeks, once they’re all vaccinated and fixed.
 
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Aeoh

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OMG, how adorable! Thanks again for helping this beautiful little family!
Wouldn’t have it any other way 🥰 Knowing she would have had them outside if we didn’t take her in is so scary! She was by a pretty busy road and we still had some chilly Spring weather and rain where I am at.
 

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if you have not been around a family of kittens before, you are in for a treat! They are a lot more agile and active than puppies. Their energy is boundless. They recommend at least ten weeks for leaving. The reason is kittens learn their limits and manners on how to play nice at between 6-12 weeks. They learn this by being too mean to their siblings and mama who quickly sets them right. There will be a lot of screaming and scrambling, but humans are too nice and let them bite their hands, etc, which quickly gets out of hand when they get older, heavier, and bite harder. It turns into big behavioral problems. If people have raised kittens before and know not to let them bite and attack, they could leave at a younger age.
 
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Aeoh

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Update: we lost one of the kittens last night 😔

She was doing okay but a little smaller than the rest, but she seemed to be eating just as much and was active. Suddenly last night, we noticed she was very limp and wouldn’t feed. We rushed her to the emergency vet but oxygen, glucose, injections etc. couldn’t save her - they said it was probably something wrong internally.

Now I can’t help but be super stressed about the other 3 kittens. They are about 16 days old and seem to be progressing well- they’re all around the same size, trying to support themselves and walk, huddle in a group, etc., but I notice mom cat doesn’t necessarily spend all her time in the box with them anymore.

She is closed in the room with them while we work so we have no way of knowing whether or not she’s feeding them for those 9 hours or so; we give her a little freedom while we are around (she will run around the house a little but ends up back in the room with them within an hour or two), and I try to make sure I see her feeding them at least when I’m home.

I guess my concern is -since one kitten just seemed to suddenly fade and pass away out of nowhere, is there reason we should be more concerned about the other three? There’s only so much I can do since we are not always home - a lot of it is trusting mom to actually feed them.

It was just an awful experience and I don’t want to repeat it, so any advice, suggestions or reassurance is appreciated! I’ve been doing my best to be a good mom to Bean and grandparent to the kittens, but I’m not in a position where I can dedicate my whole day to it, and I’m terrified I’m going to come home and find the same situation 😔
 

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I’m so sorry you lost one. The other 3 kittens sound healthy! Mom is feeding them while you work. This is the natural selection process of Mother Nature. In the wild, not all kittens survive, nor do they all make it in a home. Fading Kitten syndrome is real. It is sad but usually a genetic problem and not much can be done. Hang in there!
 

di and bob

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I'm so sorry.....fading kitten syndrome is a real condition that often happens,especially with the runts. There is truly nothing to do....
To see if the others are doing as well as they should, they should be weighed at the same time every day. They should be gaining about 10 grams minimum
every day. Or 1/3 of an ounce. Grams is more accurate. If not they should be supplemented. At around 4 weeks you can start watered down solid food, smear a tiny bit in their lips to get them started. They will grow like a weed then! You can't be there 24/7 you have to trust mama and her instincts. I pray the others do well...
 
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Aeoh

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Good morning!

Mom and 3 kittens seem to be doing okay still, though she’s definitely coming out of her shell and really acting like a kitten as a stray! The vet we had taken her to said she was around 3 years but I have a feeling she’s even younger than that, so it’s funny and nice seeing her really getting a sassy personality.

Question of the day is more for my other adult cat and mom cat when she stops nursing - good recommendations for wet food? We had been feeding Blue Buffalo Healthy Gourmet, but since they reformulated with the tasteful formula, we can’t stand the smell and the adult (non Mom) cat won’t even eat it. I found a few Healthy Gourmets on clearance since they were getting rid of the stock, but we are almost out.

Any suggestions on a healthy wet food for adults? We have given her Merrick in the past but not sure if that is considered “healthy”. I’m okay with spending a little extra if it’s going to be the best for her/both of them.

Mom cat is currently eating the Royal Canin mom and baby cat food (which I plan to continue getting for her and the kittens when on solid food). I also got some Hills kitten food as well as Halo kitten food as backup in case they don’t like the Royal Canin.

So... yeah. Should I stick with something I know like Merrick for the adult cats, or should I try something branded as more vet recommended/natural like the Hills/Royal Canin for adults?
 
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