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Uneven kitten weight gain / stalling?

Discussion in 'Pregnant Cats and Kitten Care' started by kat hamlin, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. kat hamlin

    kat hamlin Thread Starter "RESCUE" is my favorite breed Adult Cat

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    Jun 25, 2015
    Midwest
    Hello,

    I am new to the community here.  I have been a foster mama to kittens with and without their biological mothers for a good 5 years now.  However, I am having a tough time with the two I have right now.

    Harry and Henrietta were surrendered to the rescue group I work with by an 85 year old woman who found them as newborns and bottle-fed them.  They are approximately 7 weeks old right now and fully weaned, hooray.  Harry is a plumper at 2 lb 1 oz, however Henrietta is only 1 lb 3 oz.  They both eat and drink well, have good stools, and are moderately active.  Harry does not eat appreciably more than Henrietta does.

    My problem is that Henrietta is not gaining weight at anywhere near the rate that Harry is, which is what I am used to and comfortable with.  She was 12 oz a few weeks ago and surpassed one pound about a week after that.

    Normally, I don't have the benefit of assuming that my kittens are the same age, because I get them from a shelter where they are caged together if they happened to be taken in on the same day, and as space and temperament allowed.  However, I am fairly sure that these two are the same age, so why the dramatic difference in weight?

    Henrietta is not acting like a FTT kitten, and, at any rate, I usually lose them before 7 weeks if they are FTT.  The fact that she has lived this long indicates to me that this is not the issue.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this sort of weight plateau?  I will be deworming them again today, just in case.  In the past, it has seemed like her weight may have jumped up following a deworming, but I can't be sure.

    I can try weighing her daily to see if I can establish a pattern, but I would love to hear what other kitten raisers have experienced. These guys are a bit out of my comfort zone--I rarely if ever have kittens under 4 weeks without a mom but these guys were about 3.5 weeks when they came to me.  Usually nowadays I just grab whatever is 6-8 weeks at the shelter when I'm pulling because we have such a hard time placing mama cats.

    Also due to size I have yet to pull blood for a FELV SNAP but I'm hoping to get that done later today on Harry, and the test results should apply to Henrietta as well.  But I don't expect a positive.  FELV is relatively rare in our area, thank the lord, if they were FELV + I would expect both to be experiencing issues.

    The last comment I have: I know a common refrain on the internet is "consult a veterinarian".  I am affiliated with a rescue group; this equates to limited funds.  We consult vets when necessary; a kitten who is slow to gain weight is not a vet matter, not when it costs us $35 (our discount from $55!) to so much as bring the kitten into the exam room with a vet present.  That is just the way of the world.  When I lived on the West Coast, I fostered for a very moneyed shelter that would have been able to provide me with a veterinarian's opinion easily but now we're in the Midwest, so I've had to adjust to things just being different.

    Sorry for being so long-winded!  I look forward to any advice.
     

  2. Sarthur2

    Sarthur2 Cat lady extraordinaire Staff Member Advisor

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    First of all, what are you feeding Henrietta and how often? Try to be brand-specific. How much of this does she eat per feeding per day?

    Are fleas a problem?

    Do you have a scale to weigh her daily? This would help to establish a pattern to maybe see what is going on.

    What product did/are you worming with?

    Let's see what we can sort out here.

    And welcome! You are performing an invaluable service by fostering! :)
     
    StefanZ purraised this.

  3. kat hamlin

    kat hamlin Thread Starter "RESCUE" is my favorite breed Adult Cat

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    Jun 25, 2015
    Midwest
    Henrietta and Harry are free-fed donated dry food (mix of Purina Kitten Chow and Purina One Healthy Kitten formula).  In the morning they receive about half a standard can (not the tiny ones, or the giant ones) of wet food, usually Friskies (also donated).  In the evening they eat a similar amount--maybe 1/3 cup split between them? of ground raw mix from My Pet Carnivore.  Usually chicken or beef, sometimes rabbit or pork.

    She is flea-free and due for monthly Revolution in a few days.

    I do have a scale and will begin to weigh her daily.

    I deworm kittens for roundworms with Pyrantel Pamoate.  No sign of tape worms.  Fenbendazole is not approved for kittens under 6 weeks and I'm not sure if I have any, but we don't routinely deworm for hooks or whips without a positive fecal, which is also something we don't get done routinely.  Because her stools are good, I don't think she has a heavy load of hooks or whips.  If weight plateau continues another week or her stool quality deteriorates, I may request a fecal.
     

  4. Sarthur2

    Sarthur2 Cat lady extraordinaire Staff Member Advisor

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    I would worm her again for starters. Does she seem full after she eats, or is she looking around for more? It may be that at 7 weeks, she needs more wet food offered more frequently. I feed my kittens wet food four times a day at that age.

    Some KMR mixed and served in a dish for her to lap up may help to give her a boost with the extra nutrition. Gerber turkey baby food provides a big serving of protein if you want to spring for it.

    The average weight at 2 months should be around 2 pounds. She is definitely on the low side. See if she will eat more wet food and kitten milk more times a day, even if you have to feed her separately for a while. Be sure her sibling isn't eating her share when they eat together. She may just need more than she is getting. Let's try this and see if she begins to gain. If not, we'll explore other options. You indicate that overall health is good otherwise.

    How many other cats is she in contact with at your home besides her brother right now?
     

  5. kat hamlin

    kat hamlin Thread Starter "RESCUE" is my favorite breed Adult Cat

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    Jun 25, 2015
    Midwest
    Thanks for the advice.  I will likely mix the KMR powder in the wet food for her with some extra water, so it's kind of a gruel.  She does crunch well too, though.

    She doesn't appear to be hungry--this morning they actually left wet food in their dish for a bit.  I will add a midday wet feeding so that will be AM canned, midday canned, and raw PM--with kibbles free-fed.

    Deworming to happen presently.

    She and Harry are in a large kitten/ferret cage due to their size.  They have nose contact with other healthy cats (3 permanents and 4 other fosters) but separate food source and litter box.  Due to dogs, our young kittens do not roam free in the house.

    The only thing I notice is Henrietta does sleep more than Harry.  They wrestle together but she is less interested in toys.
     

  6. Sarthur2

    Sarthur2 Cat lady extraordinaire Staff Member Advisor

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    I am thinking that she may be bored, and maybe even stressed from living in a cage. Their natural inclination at this age is to explore, run, chase, tussle, climb, and even to hide!

    Wondering if you could allow them free reign for a few hours a day in a certain room with no other pets in with them? A spare bedroom perhaps? For the sake of exercise and pursuing their spirit. :).

    Also thinking that it might help her comfort level to have a place in the cage in which to hide. A box turned upside down with a door cut out and something soft to lie on?

    She may be a sensitive cat whose needs are not being met, and she may respond well to these minor accommodations. Then she might well be hungrier and put on some weight!

    I am also thinking that you might want to recommend that the two be adopted together.
     

  7. kat hamlin

    kat hamlin Thread Starter "RESCUE" is my favorite breed Adult Cat

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    Jun 25, 2015
    Midwest
    Once they are FeLV tested they can come out of the cage for romp time, as long as they're supervised.

    It is a very large cage, about 4.5 ft high, 3.5 ft long, and 2 ft deep, just FYI.  They have several houses with hidey holes and beds and all manner of toys.  Four shelves at varying levels and they do love to climb!

    That said, it is about time for them to be getting more exercise.  So I will FeLV test Harry tonight and then tomorrow they can have some out of cage time.

    I hope you don't think I'm being cruel but until the kittens are a solid 2 pounds I don't like them to be free range entirely throughout the house.  For one, it solidifies their litter box habits, and for two, only one of the dogs is crated when someone's not around to supervise and we did have one incident a few years ago with the dogs 'playing' with some kittens.  All 3 are quite low prey drive, and they really were just wanting to play from the looks of it, but I will not risk that again.  At 8 weeks / 2 pounds they are more solid and smarter about finding dog-free places if they don't want to be bothered.  And of course, if they're ill and need medicating, I don't have to chase kittens around the entire house if they're in a cage.  I do enough of that on adoption event days or to get Revolution on everybody!
     

  8. Sarthur2

    Sarthur2 Cat lady extraordinaire Staff Member Advisor

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    All this sounds great! I wasn't suggesting total free reign anyway with your other pets. Just some time to run a bit and explore. You sound like an extremely competent foster caregiver in fact. Just wondered if she was having some melancholy. She also may just be of a shy temperament and not a big eater. I have 3 male kittens and one female, and the males have always eaten more and been bigger than their sister. She was very lightweight until recently, when she seemed to grow and put on more weight. Henrietta sounds very healthy and may just be a bit of a late bloomer. :)
     

  9. handsome kitty

    handsome kitty TCS Member Top Cat

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    Could Henrietta just be a small cat?   Well, future small cat.  Large cats grow at a faster rate than small cats.
     

  10. StefanZ

    StefanZ Advisor Staff Member Advisor

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  11. kat hamlin

    kat hamlin Thread Starter "RESCUE" is my favorite breed Adult Cat

    241
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    Jun 25, 2015
    Midwest
    Update:

    Henrietta was all of 1 lb 5 oz yesterday.  But gain is gain, however slow.  Brother Harry is about twice her size.  They did test negative for FeLV and are enjoying their time out of the cage, scampering around the house and chasing Carlos and Cecilia.

    I will continue to deworm routinely.  Stools continue to be good, so there is really nothing to do but wait for little Henrietta to grow.  They are eating wet food three times a day and it is Henrietta, not Harry, who bullies about the food.  She plows right in and growls. 
     
    Sarthur2 and handsome kitty purraised this.

  12. Sarthur2

    Sarthur2 Cat lady extraordinaire Staff Member Advisor

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    This is wonderful to hear! Sounds like they are enjoying life! :)
     

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