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weaning kittens. Help!

ownedbycats
September 24th, 2008, 12:54 PM
Hi, im new but im hoping those with experience can help me.

Background: I took in a stray cat who was already pregnant. she produced 8 kittens, 7 of which survived. the kittens are now 1 day short of 8 weeks.

Problem: the kittens are eating canned food twice a day along with as much dry food as they can eat. Misty persists in nursing them, and shows no sing of stopping. I want the kittens weaned soon for two reasons.

1) Misty was thin when she showed up, giant while she was pregnant, and is now so thin i can count her ribs(not good)

2)Misty can't be spayed until she is no longer nursing kittens, and her milk has dried up. This takes a couple weeks. In the meantime, she is ready to go back into heat, and all it takes is two seconds of open door, Misty running uot and coming back a day pregnant again. The sooner she can be spayed teh happier i will be.

I couldn't find a thread about weaning. Suggestions anyone?

rainbow
September 24th, 2008, 01:21 PM
I would separate Misty from the kittens....can you put her in a separate room?

And, please do not let her outside until you can get her spayed.

sugarcatmom
September 24th, 2008, 01:36 PM
In my opinion, if you can in any way leave them with Misty for a little while longer, that would be ideal. I think weaning should be left up to the mom, and kittens can benefit greatly by being left with her until up to about 12 weeks. From this website: http://www.breedlist.com/faq/young.html

"Weaning isn't an event; it's a process," says Dr. Arnold. "They don't just start eating food one day. They eat a little food, nurse, eat a little, nurse, and so on. Eventually they eat more than they nurse, and then stop nursing altogether. This doesn't happen by six or eight weeks of age."

Left to their own devices, mothers will eventually stop allowing kittens to nurse. With most cats this occurs naturally anywhere from eight to twelve weeks. However, this process is very important, as it teaches the kitten to learn to deal positively with frustration and denial. As the mother starts refusing to allow the kitten to nurse, which the kitten very much wants to do, she teaches the kitten how to cope with that frustration. Kittens who do not learn this lesson may develop behavioral problems.

Weaning is not simply a matter of getting a kitten to eat solid food. It's an important time when the kitten begins to assert its independence from its mother. This needs to be a gradual process. "For the most part, my babies still nurse at 9 and 10 weeks, and sometime beyond," says Rosi Carroll of Bengals by RoJon. "I have never had a customer call me up after picking up one of my kittens, complaining about the kitten meowing for its mother. They settle right in to their new environment."


What does Misty eat? Can you give her more quality protein, like some raw chicken or scrambled eggs? A more calorie dense canned food?

Love4himies
September 24th, 2008, 01:37 PM
You can separate momma from babies for 8 hour periods, but I warn you, if this is a very caring momma you may get momma very upset if one of the babies cries out and she can't get to them. This is what happened with Sweet Pea, so I gave up and let her wean the babies herself. It took until the kittens were 12 weeks. Do not stop the nursing all at once, it can cause problems for the momma's mammory glands ;).

I think 14+kittens made a "sweater" out of old nylons to put on one of her mommas to stop the kittens from nursing. It allowed momma to be with her kittens.

Love4himies
September 24th, 2008, 01:37 PM
Great advice Sugarcatmom!!!!!

ownedbycats
September 24th, 2008, 06:04 PM
Thanks. That website looks like it might be useful and if all else fails maybe I will go with the nylon body stocking for at least part of the day.

I am already feeding Misty kitten food on the advice of my vet, to help her regain some weight and not lose anymore, but seven kittens are just too much.( I sympathize with her. Whenever mama isn't willing to play they come looking for me. I currently have one chewing on my hair and several just finished attacking my feet.)
Sadly our house is an open plan one with few doors, and the ones with doors are all unsuitable for confining a cat. Also, with Misty being such a good mother, seperating her from the kittens at this point would drive her and us nuts


I'm sorry if my post gave the impression that i have any intention of letting Misty out without spaying her. I don't but am worried about accidental escapes, whe wants out badly and spends time pressed against the door.

sugarcatmom
September 24th, 2008, 06:15 PM
I currently have one chewing on my hair and several just finished attacking my feet.

Pictures!!! I want pictures!! We need evidence of this unruly harassment.

14+kitties
September 24th, 2008, 06:15 PM
Don't know if this will help or not but my solution to weaning ..........

http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=52941

It worked. :shrug:

rainbow
September 24th, 2008, 06:22 PM
I'm sorry if my post gave the impression that i have any intention of letting Misty out without spaying her. I don't but am worried about accidental escapes, whe wants out badly and spends time pressed against the door.

That's why I suggested confining her to a separate room but I've never had a cat that had kittens so didn't know that it is wrong to keep them apart them like that. :o

As far as accidental escapes perhaps you could put a big "Don't let Misty Out" sign on the door so you can shoo her away before you open it. :shrug:

ownedbycats
September 25th, 2008, 07:17 AM
I love the pictures of the body stocking. It has to be a gradual weaning but a few hours a day and slowly lenghtening the time might work?
I will try to post pictures of the kittens, but (if I figure out how to do it) they will probably be asleep. Moving kittens are hard to photograph, they turn into colorful blurs ( well, black white and grey blurs as they are all either black, white, blackand white, or grey tabby)
OW! I'm bieng climbed!:yell:

14+kitties
September 25th, 2008, 07:28 AM
If these kittens are already 8 weeks old the weaning should be well on it's way. Mom probably isn't feeding any more than once, maybe twice, but her milk should be starting to dry up a little on its own. I started with only an hour or so the first day working up to all day within a few days. I did separate the mom from the kittens at night. It didn't seem to hurt her or the kittens. I used large dog crates. They could still see but couldn't get to each other.
Mom should be slapping the kittens when she doesn't want them feeding at this point.

Love4himies
September 25th, 2008, 07:38 AM
Thanks 14+, I mentioned your nylon "sweater".

Sweet Pea had 7 kittens too, I know it is very difficult on both momma and you. She was a stray that you could feel her ribs and spine too. I too have an open floor plan so it is very difficult to confine everybody.

I so agree with sugarcatmom's advice, let her wean her on her own, once the weaning takes place, your momma cat will start to put ther weight on, trust me. Sweet Pea would lay with her tummy on the floor and refuse to allow her kittens to feed on demand when she started weaning them.

What kitten food are your feeding her? The only one I found of good quality was Kitten Wellness Canned. There is also a high calorie quality all stages food: Instinct Canned: Duck formula, very high in calories (500 in can). Have you considered supplementing with raw meat? Cats get their energy from protein and meat fat, unlike humans who can get it from carbs.

14+kitties
September 25th, 2008, 09:59 AM
Thanks L4H! :D

I agree with letting mom wean the kittens on her own time too but I think the biggest issue with this one is that she is trying to escape because she is in heat? Is that right? So the best thing to do is to get her fixed before she manages to escape and possibly disappears. If she was a stray before she may decide her job as a mom is done and go looking for other stomping grounds. That's what my ferals do here. Or did before most of them got fixed.

If that is the case than I think the best thing to do is to get her fixed asap.

FYI - if Misty does manage to escape and come back pregnant as long as the pregnancy is not too far advanced and the vet deems it not dangerous she can still be spayed.

ownedbycats
September 26th, 2008, 07:12 AM
Misty was a stray but if she gets outside I don't think I have to worry about losing her (pregnancy yes, losing no). You see, I know most of the cats around my house, including the regular strays. Misty showed up one day, and she couldn't have been there long because she came running to anyone she heard talking. She was pretty hard to miss. she tried to get into everyone's house. I didn't adopt her immediately. First, I tried to find her owner. I found a kid who gave me the information that Misty(don;t know real name) belonged to a cousin or something and escaped out a window so was given to kid's dad, who decided she should be an outdoor cat. Since at this point she had spent an entire week living either on my porch or under my dad's van, and I could step out the door at any hour and she would com running, i didn't think they were feeding her.:frustrated: The kid saw Misty, I said they should come pick up their cat if they wanted her, but no one came. Since that week outside, Misty and Dr. Seuss spent getting used to each other, we were pretty sure they would tolerate each other. Misty was healthy(no earmite) , so the next time she made it through the door she stayed. Counting backwards, she was about three weeks pregnant. She insisted on having the kittens with a human watching and every move was to a room where we spend a lot of time. She is so centered on humans I doubt she will leave voluntarily(although the kittens are getting rougher, she may want some time away.):)

Love4himies; Vet recommended Medi Cal Canned Food (I had to mix in dult food to get her to eat it at first)

Love4himies
September 26th, 2008, 07:35 AM
Medi-cal is not a great food and very expensive for what you get. I was feeding Sweet Pea and her kittens Felidae Cat and Kitten, canned because she was a foster and she was eating so much that I couldn't afford anything better. I supplemented her feedings with some raw and cooked meat to ensure she was getting enough protein.

Not sure what medi-cal diet you are feeding, assuming development formula:

http://www.medi-cal.ca/diets/diets.php?diet=25&page=ingredients&lang=en

As far as I know, Medi-cal does not use human grade ingredients as Wellness, Natures Variety Instinct and Organics by Nature so they could be using diseased meat in their food. Also, they were part of the pet food recall last year.

http://www.bynaturepetfoods.com/productpages/organiccannedcat.php#ttl

http://www.naturesvariety.com/instinct_cat_can

http://www.wellnesspetfood.com/cat_wellness_can_beef_chicken.html

Wellness sells in large cans so you will probably find it much cheaper than vet food.;)

Nature's Variety is a little pricey, but if you are worried about increasing calories, it may be worth to see if she likes the Duck or Lamb, it is quite high.

ownedbycats
September 26th, 2008, 11:56 AM
I will have to check out those brands at the pet food store next time i go.
Misty probably isnt all that badly off, but I'm paranoid about skinny cats.
my elderly cat who just passed away a few months ago had hyperthyroidism that caused her to be really skinny, even though the vet said we caught it before she had damaged her organs. She was already battling that and every little thing that came along she caught. So to me every skinny cat is at death's door (I'm a worry wort when it comes to my pets.)

ownedbycats
September 28th, 2008, 05:58 PM
Starting an chair back(laft to right) and going forward. Tabby, FLicka, Runt
Chair seat(back row): Houdini and THing 2
Chair seat (front): MooBoots and Thing 1
Things are black. (Think Dr. Seuss' The Cat In THe Hat)
42177

Love4himies
September 29th, 2008, 08:25 AM
What sweet little kittens. :cloud9: :lovestruck:

Don't be paranoid about skinny cats unless there is an unexplained weight loss, most house cats are actually overweight and need to loose a few pounds.

I am sure once the she starts weaning she will put on a pound or two ;).

ownedbycats
December 9th, 2008, 03:15 AM
It has taken me a while to get the computer long enogh to write a lenghty posts (:D) but I thought those who gave me such helpful advice deserved to know how things turned out.

First: I basically just let Misty wean the kittens (since until last week she had no intention of doing so the kittens nursed right up until they left, but she wasn't producing any milk by then.)

Second: Misty had her spay surgery last week and had her stitches out yesterday. She's back to normal (actually, she thought she was healed long before i was convinced.)

Third: I found homes for all the kittens. Thanks to warnings posted on this site I did NOT use free to good home ads, but went through word of mouth. three of the new owners are first time cat owners. One is being advised and supervised by a lady I know who is really good with her cats. The other two are taking (and, according to my vet have already) taken their kittens to the same vet I use. All the new owners are people I can and am checking up on to make sure my kittens are safe.

Oh, and in case your wondering how I managed to give a way 7 kittens, I didn't quite succeed. No one seemed to want MooBoots (Mooby) :shrug: the black and white kitten. There's a happy ending, though. My mom and dad really like Mooby most of the time, so he isn't going anywhere. :thumbs up

(Although I think Misty is beginning to wish he would disappear occasionally. He is always jumping on her and biting her ears, and at 16 weeks was still trying to nurse. Unusually tolerant, Misty is only now starting to swat him when he gets out of hand...or should that be out of paw? She still doesn't want him to go away entirely. After her spay I tried to put her in a room by herself with food, water etc. so she could have a couple quiet days to recuperate. The minute she heard Mooby meowing she started going crazy, digging at the door and jumping at the wall. I had to give in and let her out so she wouldn't hurt herself. and, of course, that kitten's first reaction was jump on mom and start a wrestling match!!:yell:)

14+kitties
December 9th, 2008, 07:15 AM
Great news! :thumbs up Thanks for giving us an update. It's nice to know your kitties are in good, safe homes. Good job!

Mom's reaction to being separated from her baby is not unusual. Good mommas have a strong bond to their babies for the first while. She will also put Mooby in his place if he gets too rough. I have one here who, at 9 months, still likes to find an available nipple and suck. Not his mommas. He has chosen his aunt who has never had a litter. :eek: She puts up with it so can't be bothered much.

I think it's time we see a couple of pics of these two in action. We love seeing kitty pics!!

So is Mooby's appt to be castrated set up? :rolleyes:

Love4himies
December 9th, 2008, 07:33 AM
I am so glad everything turned out great and what a wonderful job you did :thumbs up :highfive:. Give yourself a pat on the back.

14+ is right, Misty's reaction towards Mooby is completely natural, she is a good momma, but firm. You did the best thing for those kitties to continue to allow them to nurse from momma. I had a foster kitten who tried to nurse from her momma until she was 6 months old, no milk, just wanted to suckle before going to sleep.

Oh, we need to see some pics :D

ownedbycats
December 9th, 2008, 08:23 AM
Mooboots is going in for his last set of vaccinations on Thursday, and we will make an appointment to get him neutered for the end of january/beginning of February as he will be 6 months old then.

Pictures, hmmmm, I just filled up an entire memory card, were did they go....
just kidding, I know exactly where those pictures are. Unfortunately, the picture i already posted is the last one of all the kittens together. (It is really hard to get 7 kittens sitting still at the same time, in the same place.) Also, every time I try to shrink the file size the pictures end up looking like the one I already posted in this thread, like it is a mosaic, and not a very good one at that.

Tundra_Queen
December 9th, 2008, 03:41 PM
That is great u found homes for all the kittens! I love happy endings. :) You are a very good cat grandmother..... *S*

Debbie

CaptainOlimar
December 10th, 2008, 02:33 AM
Ah, what sweet, sweet babies! Fabulous mom has healed up so quickly!

I'm in the same boat, my two babes are 12 weeks now and mom has a vet appointment to be spayed on the 19th. She lets them nurse once or twice a day - not much but I'm still worried. The vet tech suggested I put a dog t shirt on Mama. I tried it but she just about took my hand off. Didn't like it one bit.

ownedbycats
December 10th, 2008, 03:09 AM
I had the same worries about Misty and MooBoots because his favourite nipple was right beside the incision site. I tried removing him every time he started nursing (resulting in one unhappy little kitten). However, it was Misty that solved the problem. As long as he just nursed and didn't knead or touch her incision, she would let him stay. The minute he put a paw anywhere near her incision, mama either pushed him off, or got up and walked away. Mom and I still kept trying to stop him, but I think Misty was more effective at teaching than we were.

I also made sure to check the incision whenever possible. And she did eventually pull a stitch, But it was close to the ten days before she did so, and I think it was either her washing herself or jumping. I don't think it was Mooby's fault. (Unless his jumping on her and trying to wrestle was the cause.:evil:)

hazelrunpack
December 10th, 2008, 09:29 AM
What a great thread! I love being able to read all the way through to the happy ending. :D

Misty had a beautiful litter! And you did such a good job placing them! You're an :angel: for taking Misty in and watching over her brood so well!