Young Mama with 6 Kittens

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MinkaTasha

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So I washed the kittens with Dawn in a very warm bathroom today per the shelter, and treated mama with Advantage. Only saw two fleas tonight so it’s working and we will do another bath tomorrow.
But one of the kittens only gained 4 grams today. He was 89 at birth and then 109, 125, and 129 each subsequent day. I tried giving him both a bottle and syringe with warm KMR and he wouldn’t take either. I aimed for the corner of the mouth and stroked his back and head. Any other tips? All the videos make it sound easy.
 

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It’s okay. He had big gains the other days. They can plateau for a day, but he really didn’t - he still gained, just a bit less. Carry on!

Glad the flea situation is improving. Try not to bathe the kittens too often at this age, and make sure they are dried well and warm afterwards. They cannot maintain their own body temperatures for the first 3 weeks.
 
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Thanks! That makes me feel better. I tried to keep the baths to 2 minutes in a tiny bathroom with a space heater and then I used a blow dryer to dry their bodies. I just saw a flea run up one, so we didn’t get them all. Yet.
 
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How long do I continue to weigh the kittens? 5 weeks?

All 6 of our babies are doing well at 10 days old. Every day, a different kitten seems to not gain or to only gain 1 or 2 grams, but then he catches up the next day and it’s another kitten’s turn to worry me for 24 hours. The biggest one is 240 grams and the runt is 185. We kept the fleas at bay for a week, but eggs must have hatched because we had a few more today. They had a Dawn bath and I’m praying this will be the end of fleas.
 

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Fluctuations are normal. I would weigh for one more week. They should be out of danger after 3 full weeks. Hang in there! It’s the first 3 weeks that are crucial.
 
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How long should I keep a heating pad in the nest?

Last night, mama moved her 2 week old kittens under the couch and onto the cold tile floor, and a few of the kittens climbed into a box I had under there (placed to discourage mama from going under the couch when we first got her from the rescue). I am guessing the kittens in the box were trying to get off the tile. We moved them back to the nest because they were all crying in distress--something they have never done--and when mama went into the nest, they acted like they hadn't nursed in a long time.

Trying to figure out why she would move them, and wonder if the heating pad is making the nest too hot. It takes up half the nest. It was a low of 68 degrees outside last night, and I keep a portable space heater in the room. I would guess it was around 78 degrees when I went into the room this morning. The only other thing I can figure is she doesn't want me touching and weighing them. She will sometimes cover them by laying on them after I get done weighing.

Finally, mama started with a limp last night. Her back right leg. We have some high bookshelves in the room that she has jumped to before. She could have fallen, but I don't t know if there is any condition that would make a nursing cat limp that I should watch for. Thanks!
 
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Also--best news of all--the rescue told me yesterday that the man who found mama wants to adopt her when she goes back to the shelter. He found her on a Wednesday, I got her on Thursday, and she delivered on Friday. It doesn't take long to see what a great cat she is, and it makes my heart warm to know I won't be checking the rescue once a week to see if she has been adopted.
 

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You probably don’t need the space heater AND the heating pad - one or the other. Is the heating pad set on low? It may have been mama who was too hot, but cats instinctively move their kittens at times.

How is her leg today? She may have a soft tissue injury if she did jump down and land wrong. How bad is the limp? Does she seem in pain? She may need an anti-inflammatory or cortisone injection if so.
 
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Yes, it’s on low and it’s one made for pets. I’ve removed it and so far, so good.

Mama is still limping the same today but has let me examine it without any sign of pain. My son said he saw her lay down and the leg shook for 10 to 20 seconds earlier today, but I haven’t been able to catch that. Of course, the rescue just told me to keep an eye on it. I had another foster mom from this same rescue tell me that they are infamous for not addressing medical issues and many foster moms end up paying to take fosters to their own vets.
 

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Her leg should really be seen by a vet. She may need medication. It is possible that it is an injury that is related to giving birth. Can you ask the shelter for an appointment with their vet? If she improves, you can always cancel it.
 
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I'm back! Mama's leg is all healed and the kittens are 3 weeks, 5 days.

I have a question about weight gain. Just about every day, we will have a various kitten that doesn't gain more than 1 to 4 grams. It's happened to all 6 kittens at one point or another. Mama seems to only have five good nipples, so this makes sense and I just make sure the low gainer gets some private sessions with mom to catch up. They always do, and by the next day, they have a larger than normal gain (sometimes as much as 30 grams!).

But this week, we have two that have lost weight. Boba, the former runt, lost 11 grams on Sunday. The next day, he gained back 16, so a +4 gain over two days, and yesterday he was back to a +11 gain. Then yesterday, Mark Pi, the one that the runt passed in weight about a week ago, lost 16 grams. I don't officially weigh him for another 12 hours, but he's already gained back 17 grams this morning. He is our laziest and most relaxed kitten and when he gets pushed off a nipple, he accepts defeat and goes to sleep. Neither Boba nor Mark Pi is weak and both are active and nurse eagerly. Both weigh around 340 grams. The largest kitten in the litter is 430 grams and the other three range from 355 to 405.

So, to my question: should I be worried about the weight loss and asked to have them checked? Or do I only worry when we have consecutive days of weight loss?

Background Info:
1. Last week, about 5 days apart, we found two diarrhea stains in the nest. Both stains were orange and we were unable to tell which kitten(s) they came from. Because they seemed to be isolated incidents that did not continue, I didn't worry too much about them. The internet says orange diarrhea indicates too much bile in the belly, and if someone didn't get enough to eat one day, I imagine that would create a food/bile imbalance. There was no weight loss of any kittens on the days we found the stains and there have been no stains for 6 days.

2. We have not seen fleas since a Dawn bath 2 weeks ago and there is no flea dirt coming off the flea comb, on Mama or the kittens.

3. Mama seems to have quit nursing in the nest unless she's doing it there at night and I don't know about it. She lays on a blanket outside the nest and feeds them there during the day. I wonder if this has contributed to the weight loss, especially since Mark Pi is lazy and is the last to want to leave the nest.

4. I am offering wet kitten food mixed with a little KMR, but so far, there has been no interest and Mama eats it instead (even though I give her food mixed with KMR at the same time). I've put a little on their mouths and they lick it away, but don't go back for more.

Thanks!
 

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Kittens should weigh about 16 ounces (1 pound) at 4 weeks. Your smallest kitten is a tad over 12 ounces, which is the weight of a 3-week-old, and your largest is about 14 ounces, so closest to the mark, but all are on the small side to be turning 4 weeks old in a couple days.

The weight loss followed by good gains is not too alarming, but overall it sounds like none have gotten quite as much milk as they need. I do not think it’s an emergency requiring a vet visit, but I do think supplementing is in order a few times a day until they begin eating soft foods, which for most kittens, occurs between 5-7 weeks. So, in order to give them a boost in nutrition and weight, try supplementing over the next week to ten days.

Also, they will all be out of the nest soon for good, and will nurse mom wherever she lies down. And once they do begin eating soft food their weight gains will take off.

If they are eating what you put on their mouths, then put them at the plate with the food and see if they will eat more.

Here is a helpful video:

 
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